Although it really is hard to believe, my father has been gone for five years now. And, while he certainly had his fair share of flaws and missteps (as we all do), if there's one thing that I found to be really refreshing about him, it was his signature raw candor. Sometimes he would say things that would even leave me taken aback (I've been told that he and I have that in common). But even when what he said came off as jarring or super uncomfortable, at least I knew where he stood, and where I stood as it related to where he was at. And, if there is one thing that he used to constantly warn me about, it's that I had narcissists all up and through my bloodline. On both sides.
Actually, more times than not, he didn't refer to them as "narcissists"; "arrogant assholes" was his phrase of choice, but after getting my heart broken by a narcissist, drawing some clear boundaries lines with a few family members due to mind-boggling toxicity, and doing about 12 months of research on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder (for the record, a lot of people have some of the traits; it's another matter entirely to be officially diagnosed with the disorder), I have to admit that he was right.
I can't remember who said it, but there's a quote that says something along the lines of, "Once you've had an epiphany, you can never go back to who you were before it. It totally alters your being." Now that I know what a narcissist is, I get why I struggled so much with my self-worth while growing up, why I tolerated some of the abuse that I did from people in and outside of my family, and just how many individuals around me have suffered at the hands of narcissistic abuse—some from their very own mother or father.
If you're someone who doesn't have a healthy sense of self; you lean towards codependent relationships; disappointment absolutely devastates you; you know you've got trust issues that you just can't seem to shake; you constantly battle with anxiety and/or depression; you feel empty inside; you don't have any real personal boundaries; you feel guilt or shame for telling others "no"; you still think you have to run major life choices by your parents and/or you have absolutely no clue what you want out of life because you've been doing what others want you to do since forever—while seeing a professional therapist is recommended, what I will say for now, is those are all side effects of being raised by a narcissist.
Wow and ouch, right? Now let's go a little bit deeper.
How Can You Know If Your Parents Are Truly Narcissistic?
Narcissism: selfishness, involving a sense of entitlement, a lack of empathy, and a need for admiration, as characterizing a personality type
There's no way around the fact that, if you have a narcissist parent, that means you also have a toxic one. But because not all toxicity is narcissistic, let's briefly touch on some pretty telling signs that your mom or dad falls into the narcissism parent category (I'm putting these in past tense, but that doesn't mean that it might not still be happening; chances are, they are):
- You grew up feeling controlled (even if it was via passive aggressive behavior)
- They always laid guilt trips on you
- They seemed to compete with you and/or "own" your accomplishments
- You constantly had to walk on eggshells
- They had alter egos—they seemed perfect to those outside of the house yet all-over-the-place at home
- They lied a lot
- They had unrealistic expectations
- They gaslighted you often
- They manipulated religion in order to get their way or justify their questionable behavior
- They made you feel bad for making choices without them
- They always made you question your own thoughts and feelings
- They displayed very little compassion or empathy
- They were possessive
- They were neglectful
- If they were physically or verbally abusive, somehow it was everyone else's fault but their own (they didn't take ownership for their actions)
You know what's crazy about this list? I could actually put about 30 more signs on here, but there's simply not enough space to keep going. Anyway, as you're processing everything that you just read, it's important to keep two things in mind. One, a parent having one or two of these qualities does not automatically make them narcissistic; however, if you can pinpoint a consistency of five or more, you've definitely been affected—if not flat-out traumatized—by a narcissistic mother or father. Secondly, the reason why your parents are this way is typically due to some sort of trauma they experienced themselves while growing up—and by "trauma", I mean there's a pretty good chance that they were raised by a narcissistic parent too, although I should put on record that that is not always the case. Sometimes it's due to other issues.
If you check out articles like "Childhood Roots of Narcissistic Personality Disorder", you'll see that narcissism can also be "birthed out of" childhood bullying; being spoiled and developing a sense of entitlement; arrogance; selfishness; not being taught how to co-exist with peers; not knowing how to handle criticism and correction (or being overly-criticized and corrected); creating a fantasy world where you lie to yourself rather than accepting reality and/or not knowing how to have a healthy sense of self-worth. Something that all of these things have in common is healthy parenting works to make sure that these things do not transpire. When that doesn't happen, the innocence and natural trusting ability that children have becomes tainted. As a direct result, they try and figure out ways to no longer feel vulnerable; they take extreme measures to protect themselves from any more harm. Sometimes those measures are extreme. One of those extreme measures is narcissism—putting themselves above everyone else, at the expense of everyone else. Even their own children.
The reason why it's so important to know the backstory on narcissistic behaviors and tendencies is because, while the actions of a narcissist can oftentimes be perceived as pure evil, they are oftentimes victims (including self-victimizers) themselves. There are very few individuals who "want" to be narcissistic. At the same time, because it is a form of mental illness (especially once someone has been diagnosed with this disorder), it's not something that someone can just turn on or off like a faucet. Narcissism needs professional help in order to work through; that starts with having enough humility and self-awareness to admit that one needs assistance. Ironically, because of the arrogance (which is usually a low form of self-esteem) of a narcissist, rarely does this happen.
So, you know what that means, right? If you one or both of your parents are narcissistic and they refuse to get professional help—tell them that an altar call at church ain't gonna cut it; they need to see a therapist; even the Bible says "Seek wise counsel" (Proverbs 11:14, 12:15 and 12:20)—they are going to remain narcissistic. If that is how it all goes down, what exactly should you do?
How Can You Heal from Being Raised by Narcissistic Parents?
If the narcissistic parent that you happen to have is your mom, do yourself a world of good and read "10 Signs You Might Have Unhealthy Boundaries With Your Mom" (you can't change what you're not fully aware of). Then follow that up by watching a great YouTube video on the topic, "The Problem with Being The Daughter of a Narcissistic Mother, and How to Fix It". In the video, not only does the coach touch on some other signs that you've been infected/affected by a narcissism parent (including not knowing yourself well enough to be aware of your true likes or dislikes, constantly feeling incompetent and not having a clue what self-care looks like), she also talks about how to get onto the road to healing. Between her video and some other research that I've done (and implemented), if you're ready to heal from being raised by a narcissistic parent, here are some of the things that you should do.
1. Take a "vacation" from your narcissistic parent.
The best thing that you need to do is probably the hardest. Since narcissistic parents cultivate such a perfect storm of control, manipulation and playing the victim, announcing to them that you need some time apart, is not going to sit well with them. Not at all.
But I can promise you, sis, that if you clean break, even if it's just for a couple of weeks, it will give you a new perspective on your parents as well as yourself.
At the same time, I'll also say that if you don't do this part, you might as well click out of this article because everything else won't be all that effective. The reason why I say that is because remaining in the presence in or even around the energy of a narcissistic parent is like…trying to get over the flu when someone who has it is kissing you in the mouth. In order to heal, space from what's hurting you is required.
2. Journal what your needs, likes and goals are.
A part of the reason why you need your narcissistic parent out of the way is so the world around you can get quiet enough for you to hear your own thoughts. If in the silence, you have absolutely no idea where to begin dreaming for your own life, that's another sign that your parent was probably narcissistic. The remedy to that is to get a journal (or vision board or create box) and start thinking about what you want for your own self. Stop worrying about what they will think if you change career paths, move to another city, or choose to break-up with someone they really like. Now is the time to put your voice before their own. They have a life to run—theirs. It's time to take back control of yours.
3. Set firm boundaries.
Even the healthiest parent has to adjust to letting their child go. But a narcissistic one? Chile, they wouldn't know a boundary if it kicked them in the face. You're an adult now. This means that you don't need their permission to do…anything, really. And while it would be nice to get their support in your decisions, boundary-setting teaches you that you shouldn't be so caught up in how they feel that you don't live the life that you want to lead. When writer Anne Lamott once said, "'No' is a complete sentence", she didn't say "except when it comes to your parents". Everyone applies. And here's the thing—if a parent loves in a healthy way, they will also respect the boundaries/limits that their adult children have set. If yours doesn't, well.
4. Say what you mean, mean what you say.
One of the narcissistic relatives that I have? It's like the only thing they listen to is what they want to hear. And so, in order to get them to really honor my limits, I've had to be a bit excessive. For instance, there is a particular thing that I requested they do for a year. For three years now, they haven't followed through. So, every time they've violated the request, I've reset the clock. This past year is the first time when they've gotten the memo. That's the thing about boundaries—in order for (some) people to honor them, breaking them needs to come with consequences. Extreme ones, if necessary.
5. Avoid other narcissistic relationships.
Since our parents have such a significant amount of influence in our lives, a lot of us end up with other narcissists in our space; not because we want to but simply because it's familiar to us. I'll tell you what—ever since I've be detoxing from narcissistic relatives, a lot of my social circle has shifted too. That's because I realize that I gravitated to narcissists by proxy. But once you start to love on yourself, set your own life terms and live without permission or apology—you get super picky about your relationships. As you're figuring out how to deal with your parents, be intentional about the other people who are in your life too. Read books likeBoundaries andSafe People (same authors).
Check out two of my favorite YouTube channels that are devoted to healing from narcissism (The Royal We and Divine Truth). Take in the wisdom of articles like "Why Narcissists Struggle With People Who Practice Self-Compassion" and "7 Healing Affirmations For Victims Of Narcissistic Abuse" and videos like "The 3 Stages of Narcissistic Abuse + My Experience" and "The 5 Most Common Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Mistakes". Surround yourself with individuals who not only love you, but will totally allow you to BE you.
I know what it's like to have narcissistic relatives. Because I do, if you have them, I wish I could hug you right now; you've been through a lot. But please don't allow their issues to continue to take over your own life. You deserve to heal from narcissistic abuse and then live freely and fully. My hope and prayer is that this article is a step towards helping you to do just that.
Feature image by Shutterstock
- How parents create narcissistic children - The Washington Post ›
- "YOU'RE NOT CRAZY. IT'S YOUR MOTHER" | Signs That Your ... ›
- Surviving a Narcissistic Parent - Noteworthy - The Journal Blog ›
- Narcissistic Parents Are Literally Incapable Of Loving Their Children ›
- 19 Signs You Were Raised By a Narcissistic Mother or Father ... ›
- The Legacy of a Narcissistic Parent | Goop ›
- How Being Raised By A Narcissist Damages Your Life And Self ... ›
- 10 Signs of a Narcissistic Parent | Psychology Today ›
- 6 Signs You Were Raised By A Narcissist | HuffPost Life ›
Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Hands down and without hesitation, my favorite time of the year is the fall season. I like the cooler temperatures. I like the turn of the leaves. Some of my favorite men (my late father and late fiancé) were Libras. Layering clothes is dope. I start to (slightly) swap out iced chai lattes (with oat milk) for hot chocolate and apple cider. The foods that are in season then are some of my faves (eggplant parmesan, anyone?). Watching sports outside is fun — need I go on? And so, even though I like to write about sex — especially ways to have even better sex — any time of the year, it’s right around now when I start to get inspired to pitch topics like this one.
And honestly, I ain’t got no lies for you. The reason why this headline has “2.0” in it is because it was right around this time, three years ago, when I penned the piece “Here's How To Have Some Really Great Fall-Themed Sex.” Well, I think it’s been long enough to “upgrade” it a bit by providing you with 15 other fall-related ideas that could cause you to literally fall in love with fall as much as I have…and quite possibly renew your enthusiasm in the bedroom in the process.
Can you feel yourself getting excited? LOL.
1. Pumpkin. Lots ‘n Lots of Pumpkin.
Pumpkin bread. Pumpkin lattes. Pumpkin pie. Pumpkin cheesecake. Pumpkin deviled eggs. It should go without saying that if there is a signature food for this time of year, pumpkin would be it. So, if you’re someone who is big on aphrodisiac consumption, definitely add more pumpkin into your diet, even if it’s snacking on pumpkin seeds. Between the zinc that’s in it, which helps to boost your libido (and can even help with erectile dysfunction in men) and the fatty acids that help to keep sex hormones in balance, every time you enjoy some of your favorite pumpkin-flavored foods, you’ll be giving your sex life quite the boost.
2. DIY Some Cranberry Seed Massage Oil
Another fruit (because, yes, pumpkin is indeed a fruit) that is at its best during the autumn season is the cranberry. Although many of us don’t give it much thought beyond the cranberry sauce that sits on the table during Thanksgiving, its scent is actually pretty sensual when you use it in the form of a scented soy candle or if you decide to make some of your own massage oil.
In fact, if you purchase organic cranberry seed oil, it naturally comes with a subtle cranberry scent which means that you can give your man a lingam massage (check out “Blow Your Man's Mind By Giving Him This Tantalizing Massage”) without worrying if the ingredients in the oil will irritate his penis in the process.
As far as how to make the oil, all you need is some cranberry seed oil, a favorite carrier oil (check out “So, Here Are The Carrier Oils That Will Take Your Sex Life To A Whole 'Nother Level”), and possibly a bit of honey (for flavoring’s sake) and you’re good to go; especially if you heat it up in the microwave for like 10 seconds before applying. Whew, chile.
3. Also, DIY Some Pear-Flavored Whipped Cream
Another fruit that’s in season for fall is a pear. I like them, not just for how they taste, but because they symbolize things like abundance, femininity, fertility, and happy relationships — all of which are awesome things to think about when you’re sharing intimacy with your partner. That said, you know, there is nothing quite like bringing in a condiment or two during sex (check out “12 ‘Sex Condiments’ That Can Make Coitus Even More...Delicious”), and so, if whipped cream is totally your thing, how about making some that is pear-flavored? I found a recipe that is super easy (so long as you have some xanthan gum around). You can check it out here.
4. Incorporate Some Vanilla Lubricant
Another popular scent for autumn is vanilla. As far as your sex life is concerned, science backs that the smell of it can increase sexual arousal and even improve sexual performance in some people. Since pretty much all of us know that sex is so much better when it’s wetter, it might also be a good idea to have some vanilla (especially vanilla-flavored) lubricant on tap. Hello Cake has a vanilla chai lube that is a fan favorite (you can get it here). I also peeped a TikTok post that features a DIY recipe for this kind of lube (here), although it needs to go on record that it’s not the kind that you would incorporate if you use condoms (because there’s oil in it). Just sayin’.
5. Make Some Maple Syrup-Flavored Lip Butter
Is there anything better than a stack of homemade pancakes or French toast with some maple syrup on a cold weekend morning? Take the maple flavor up a notch by making some lip butter that tastes just like it. You know, I was recently talking to a group of guys about some of their underrated turn-ons, and one of them said that when a woman exfoliates her lips, he can always tell because they feel extra soft. Let that be a reminder that taking a couple of minutes out to apply a lip scrub ain’t never hurt nobody. Then, if you add some lip butter afterwards?
Girrrl…he’ll be all up in your mouth from sunset to sunrise! (No, I didn’t forget. The lip butter recipe is here.)
6. Add Some Lit Vines Around Your Bed
It’s kind of wild how much people underestimate the sensuality of good lighting when you’re trying to set the mood. Although candlelight is always a bomb option, if you want to think a little outside of the box, there are vines that you can purchase to put around your bed. I found some on Amazon (here) that can make you and your partner feel like y’all are in an enchanted forest or a log cabin somewhere — until you can actually get there. Plus, this kind of lighting can be sexy because it can cast shadows on your body without making you feel super self-conscious in the way that overhead lighting or a lamp (with a bright bulb) could.
7. Put Some Fairy Lights in Some Mason Jars
As far as lighting goes, another option to consider is putting some fairy lights into a couple of mason jars. I find this option to be very romantic as well as seductive. Plus, if you’re looking to create a sexy night at the last minute, you can find the lights and the jars pretty easily and at a reasonable price. For instance, a quick Walmart run would have you covered, all the way around.
8. Apply Some Apple and/or Caramel-Scented Fabric Spray
When it comes to attraction, looks aren’t everything. Studies reveal that how someone smells can help you decide if you’re truly interested in them or not. Not only that, but scent can impact your mood and performance ability, and, I’ve shared before that people with smell sensitivities tend to get aroused more easily; some women who fall into that demographic are able to have more orgasms too.
For all of these reasons (and probably more), you definitely should pay attention to how things smell in your bedroom prior to copulating. Something that you can do to make your bedding smell delightful is to either find a fabric spray that smells like fall-themed things such as apples or even caramel. I even found one on Amazon that is a combination of the two (here). #yourewelcome
9. Create Some Fall-Themed Potpourri
Do you want to keep some of the scents from your favorite summer flowers around for longer? Or maybe you want to avoid spending money on Air Wick and Glade Plug-Ins. Either way, something else to consider is making some of your own potpourri. I grew up with that in the house, and it really did make every room of the home smell divine. A YouTube Short that will walk you through how to make a fall-themed one is located right here.
10. Design a “Fallen Leaves with Love Notes” Hanging
While I was playing around on the internet a couple of days ago, I happened upon a page that was full of fall-centered arts and crafts. One that I liked, especially, was a hanging that had faux fall leaves on it (it’s #9 here). After looking at it, I thought, “Now, how sweet would it be to add some handwritten cards or Post-its that either express how someone feels about their partner or what they want to do to their partner?” You can even switch it up every couple of weeks to add some spontaneity. Just putting it on out there for you home décor (who also happen to be horny) folks.
11. Invest in Some Silk Sheets
If you go to your favorite search engine and you put something along the lines of “silk and warmth,” you will see all kinds of articles that cosign on the fact that although silk is light and soft, it also is a temperature regulator that has the ability to keep you warm. So, as the temperature drops and you’re looking for some sheets that will feel good to the touch, don’t have as much “heat generating potential” as flannel, and can bring sensuality into your space, investing in some silk sheets is definitely the way to go.
12. Pick Up Some Fall-Themed Lingerie
If you’re getting new bras and panties (roughly) twice a year (because that is what you’re doing…right?), you should put in your budget to cop some new sexy lingerie while you’re at it. Basically, some new stuff for spring and summer and some new different stuff for fall and winter. Since Black women look AMAZING in jewel tones (which are big during the holiday season), knock yourself out — or even go with something that particularly caught my eye called “Fall Fire Lingerie” (here). Husbands are constantly telling me that when their wife puts on something that they haven’t seen before, it’s like Christmas all over again. So, why not ring in Christmas early this year, a few times? Real talk.
13. Hang Some Eucalyptus Vines on Your Showerhead
Listen, the past couple of weeks, I know of several people who’ve gotten COVID; one had to be hospitalized. So, although I am a huge fan of shower sex (check out “So, This Is How To Make Shower Sex So Much Better”) and I absolutely think that bringing some greenery into the space is visually appealing, there is another reason why I’m making this suggestion.
Fresh eucalyptus has the ability to relieve congestion, suppress coughing, and make it easier to breathe. So, since the fall and winter seasons are the time of year when people tend to have more colds, be proactive and hang some of these vines from your showerhead. It looks great, it’s good for you, and it can help to keep both of you from passing unwanted germs back and forth.
14. Swap Out Your Light Bulbs for Something…with a Deeper Glow
Oh, here’s another lighting idea. So, what if you prefer to have sex when it’s pitch black and your partner would like a little bit of mood lighting? Colors like red and orange definitely fit in with autumn — and they also can be a real turn-on in the bedroom if you swap out your white bulbs for ones that are that color instead. They can also help you to relax when you’re all caught up in the afterglow of things too. #wink
15. Enjoy a Fall Fruit Aphrodisiac Cocktail
Whether it’s red wine, whisky, or tequila — all of them can get you where you’re good to go. That’s why, it only seemed right to wrap this up by recommending that you make a cocktail out of a fruit that’s in season this fall, whether it’s apples, pears, figs, passionfruit, pomegranates or something else that tickles your, umm, fancy. A girlfriend of mine is a huge — and I mean, HUGE — fan of fig and honey cocktails (recipe here) and ginger pomegranate martinis (recipe here) as far as her libido goes. She’s got sex stories for days, so…I’d at least give it a shot (no pun intended).
LAWD. Who thought that fall could be this damn sexy, right? Enjoy, sis. ENJOY!
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