After years of talking to my readers, I’ve learned that many of us who have either been raised by or married to narcissists, hate the holidays. Me too! My narcissistic mother griped constantly about how much work she had to do (yet never hosted a family dinner or party, barely decorated..) & criticized the fact I enjoyed the holidays as if I was abnormal. As an adult, my narcissistic ex husband spent holidays with his family, whether or not I went with him. My current husband also spends holidays with his family. Some people have tried to guilt trip me into attending holiday parties even though I was unable to because my husband was working or I was unavailable. Others have shamed me for my lack of enthusiasm & tried to force me to “get into the holiday spirit.” So yes, like many other people, I am no longer a fan of holidays.
In spite of feeling much like I do, many people often feel forced to participate in Thanksgiving & Christmas get togethers. It is for you I am writing this post.
First, please know that as an adult, you are not obligated to do as you are told regarding gatherings. You do not have to attend these events if you don’t want to! You are allowed to do as you see fit. Attending or not are within your rights! No one has the right to attempt to manipulate you into going if you don’t want to! And if they try, you are perfectlly within your rights to ignore their manipulation.
If you opt to go, you have the right to set boundaries. You need to, in fact, especially if you’re going to have to deal with narcissists.
Decide ahead of time how long you are going to stay, & leave at the time you have settled upon. You don’t owe anyone explanations of why you have to leave when you do.
Many relatives want to discuss topics you aren’t comfortable with, such as “why don’t you have a boyfriend”. “When are you two getting married” or “When are you going to have a baby.” You don’t have to discuss such topics if you don’t want to. Change the subject, repeatedly if necessary. You can say you don’t want to discuss this topic. You can remind the other person that this topic is none of their business.
If you need to leave, you can do that too. Spending time with narcissists is hard enough, but it potentially can be worse during a holiday get together. Maybe after a couple of glasses of wine or just because there is an audience, but it can happen. It may get bad enough for you to want to leave. You have that right! If you don’t feel able to just walk out, make an arrangement with a friend ahead of time. If you call her & let the phone ring a couple of times, she can call you back or text you saying she needs you to come over immediately.
Whatever you do, I hope you enjoy your holiday season the best you can!