Tag Archives: holiday

Dysfunctional Families And The Holidays

Since the holiday season is officially upon us, I thought it would be a good time to talk about dysfunctional families & the holidays.

The holiday season is supposed to be a joyful time of year, & spent with those you love the most.  Instead, for people with dysfunctional families & in-laws, it is the most dreaded time of year. 

These families make unreasonable demands, have their own traditions that allow no room for change & have no tolerance for anyone who doesn’t go along with their traditions & demands.  They turn a joyful time of year into one full of stress, anxiety, hurt feelings, & anger for anyone who doesn’t go along with their “one big happy family” charade. 

Clearly this is very common with narcissists, but those who are simply dysfunctional can behave in the same way.  Their motivations are different than their narcissistic counterparts.  It is usually done to make them feel as if their family isn’t dysfunctional.  After all, they always get together at the holidays, so they must be a close, happy family, right?

Whichever is your situation, you are in a frustrating, difficult & exasperating position.  I understand it all too well since I have been there more years than I care to remember with both dysfunctional people & narcissists.  I’ve learned some things that I think can help those of you who are currently in this situation.

Remember, as an adult, you aren’t obligated to do what your family or in-laws tell you to do.  Just because they think you need to obey their wishes & celebrate their way doesn’t mean that you need to do as they say.  Not doing as they want will upset them, & they will hurt you.  Think about this… is it worth wasting your time being miserable to appease them to avoid them basically pouting like a spoiled child?  Hopefully you feel you can handle their temper tantrum & spend the holidays as you want.  If you do, chances are you are going to feel guilty & hurt when they are mad at you, since that is normal.  When that happens, just remind yourself that you are a grown adult, & no one has the right to dictate how you spend your holidays.

If you opt not to spend your holidays with these people, then be sure to do something you enjoy doing.  Spend the day with friends instead of family.  Go on a trip.  Start your own traditions that don’t involve them. 

If you don’t feel you can avoid doing what your dysfunctional family & in-laws want you to do though, hope is not lost!  Rather than do everything they want, set some boundaries.  If they want you to spend all of Christmas day with them, say you only have a couple of hours to spend with them.  Or, offer to spend Christmas Eve or the day after Christmas with them.

I know setting boundaries with narcissists & very dysfunctional people can be hard, but you can do it!  If the suggestions I just made feel like too much, start small.  If this person wants you to be at their house at 11, say you will be there at noon.  If they want you to bring three dishes for dinner, offer to bring two instead.  Moves like this are small, but significant.  They help you take back some of your power.  Often, those small steps lead the way to setting bigger boundaries with confidence.

I also learned that after years of ridiculous holiday expectations of demanding dysfunctional people, I absolutely detest holidays no matter what I try to do to enjoy them.  The narcissists & dysfunctional people in my life ruined almost all of the holidays in my adult life.  Even though they are all gone from my life now, I still hate holidays.  I’ve spoken with other people who have been in similar situations who feel the same as me, so I am left to assume this is normal.  If this happens to you, don’t beat yourself up over it.  You can’t help how you feel.  Dysfunctional people made you feel this way, & there is nothing wrong with you for that.  Many people can’t understand feeling this way & can be quite hurtful with their judgments.  Don’t pay any attention to what they say.  Their opinion isn’t important.  Your feelings aren’t damaging their life in any way so you just be yourself & don’t worry about them!

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For Those Who Lack Joy During The Holidays & Are Judged For It

Many people struggle through the holiday season for a range of very valid reasons.  Dysfunctional families causing unnecessary drama & misery, suffering loss through failed relationships or deaths of loved ones & financial struggles are some of the most common reasons, but there are many more.  Yet in spite of the validity of these reasons, many people are quick to shame these poor people, making their pain even worse.

My heart goes out to such people.  As I’ve written about plenty of times, I struggle through the holidays as well.  And, as many others have experienced, I’ve been shamed for that as well.  I’ve heard the usual comments like, “Focus on the positive!”  “It’s the most wonderful time of year!”  “Everyone is so happy.  Why can’t you be happy too?”  “Don’t be so negative.  It’s Christmas!!”  It’s no surprise, but comments don’t help. 

What people who make comments like this fail to realize is saying such things doesn’t make a person automatically feel better.  In fact, they only make a person feel worse.  It’s much like how saying, “cheer up” doesn’t cure depression or, “stop worrying!” doesn’t cure anxiety.

When you are faced with these overly judgmental people, it will be upsetting.  There is no avoiding that.  It does help to remember that some people simply aren’t very understanding others.  They either can’t or won’t try to understand the position of another person & unfortunately, they are everywhere.  This is how they are & they have no desire to change that about themselves. It has nothing about you that makes them act this way. 

There is also the fact that so many people have their own issues that they refuse to face.  Some people have come from their own dysfunctional, abusive pasts & rather than admit that fact & face their demons, they prefer to think only of happy things.  Traditionally, holidays are supposed to be a time of joy, so they are a great time to justifiably be focused on only happy things.  Or maybe holidays were the only time of joy they had in their childhood, so as adults, they cling to them to bring them joy as they once did.  Holidays also allow dysfunctional families to gather together & pretend that they are functional & happy.  Those from these families may enjoy this charade because even if only briefly, they can believe that they have a happy family.

One final thing to consider.  Colossians 2:16 in the New Living Translation of the Bible says, “So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths.”  Notice that even the Bible even states that people aren’t to judge others for how they celebrate special days.  Celebrating certain ways & certain days is traditional, but it isn’t necessary for anyone, even professing Christians.  God gives people free will to do as they please, & that includes how they celebrate special days.  If He won’t judge you for what you do or don’t do during the holiday season, then there is no reason to accept the judgment of human beings.  Do what makes you comfortable, & ignore the petty criticisms of people who don’t know your situation. 

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Filed under Christian Topics and Prayers, Enjoying Life, Mental Health

Narcissists & Gifts

Giving gifts can be a wonderful thing.  It makes the receiver feel loved because someone would listen closely enough to know what gift would make the receiver happy, then spend the time to pick out or even make this gift, spend the time to wrap  it up pretty & all this shows that they cared enough to want to do these things.  The giver is also blessed because there is a great joy in seeing someone’s face light up when they get a special gift that you are responsible for giving them.

With narcissists, this isn’t how this scenario happens.

For one thing, narcissists are notoriously terrible at giving gifts.  To give a good gift, you have to look beyond yourself.  You have to listen to what the receiver says about their needs & wants.  You have to know things about them, such as their favorite color, the size clothing they wear, styles they like, their favorite author or singer.  Narcissists can’t be bothered with those things, so they give gifts that are what they like or think you need.

Narcissists also give you gifts in order to try to make you more like what they think you should be.  Probably in 1999 or so, during a conversation with my mother in-law that took place not long before Christmas, I mentioned that I don’t like to cook, unlike her & her daughters. I didn’t criticize them, just said I didn’t share that with them. For Christmas that year, she & both of my sisters in-law gave me cooking stuff.  Spoons, spatulas, cook books, food & the largest, ugliest pasta dish I have ever seen.  At least I did find a good use for that.  When the roof leaked, in the short time before it was fixed, I used that ugly dish to catch the rain water that leaked into the attic ..lol  Everything else was donated, given to my friends or thrown in the trash.

And of course, in true narcissistic fashion, when they give gifts, the purpose is self-serving.  Giving makes them feel like they are good people.  See how caring they are?  They gave someone a gift!

There also may be another motive when receiving gifts from a narcissist.  They may want something from you.  They may want you to do something for them, so when they ask for you to do that favor, they can say, “How can you say no after I gave you that great gift?”  Gifts come with strings attached.  They may give birthday & Christmas cards with money inside, & in return, you need to help them with whatever needs they have, no matter how ridiculous or the personal cost to you.  It is an unspoken rule many narcissistic families have.

Some narcissists also give to others in the hopes of making themselves appear to be the martyr, taken advantage of by ungrateful people.  This often makes the recipient of the gifts feel as if they are taking advantage of the giver somehow, & they offer to repay the “generous” narcissist.

When it comes to giving gifts to a narcissist, it isn’t really a better scenario. 

Narcissists are impossible to please.  They set these high goals for their victims, then when the victim comes close to it or even reaches it, they say that isn’t what they want, they want something else that is even harder to do.  Nothing their victim does is good enough.  This scenario plays out similarly with gifts.  They may say they want something, but when they receive it, it somehow falls short of their expectations & the giver feels badly.

They also compare gifts.  For example, let’s say you gave your parents a gift certificate for their favorite restaurant for their anniversary.  A thoughtful gift, but not to them.  Instead, they may tell you that their neighbor’s son bought them a 65” television & set it up for them while they were at the grocery store. 

This holiday season, if you are in the unfortunate position of exchanging gifts with a narcissist, I hope you remember what I have said.  They do these awful things because this is just how dysfunctional, abusive & toxic they are.  It truly has nothing to do with you.  When they criticize what you give them, remember the nicer your gift, the more they will criticize it.  When they give you awful gifts or things that they like knowing you don’t like those things, just say thank you… then later, quietly find a new home for that gift.  Maybe a friend of yours could use the item or you could donate to a worthwhile charity.  Or, throw it in the trash!  You’re under no obligation to keep gifts that were given to make you feel badly or that come with strings attached.

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Depression During The Holidays

Many people suffer with depression during the holiday season.  November & December are very painful for them.  Yet sadly, this phenomenon is rarely discussed.

Thanksgiving & Christmas can be a very difficult time for many people & for countless reasons. 

Even for those who adore the holidays & circumstances are good in their lives, there is the stress of extra money spent for meals & gifts, so much more to do in preparation such as meal planning & decorating, less time to relax & more.  This stress can ultimately result in anxiety & even depression.

For those who don’t host, holidays still can be very stressful.  There are family demands & expectations.  Many dysfunctional families have very high expectations for the holidays & everyone must meet them or else suffer consequences.  Having been down this road, I can assure you, it doesn’t exactly make a person happy during the holidays!

Often young married couples are pressured to spend holidays with their two families, which is very stressful.  Their holidays are a source of stress & scheduling to make everyone happy or consequences if they don’t.

There are also so many people who have lost a loved one to consider.  This may be their first holiday season without the loved one who enjoyed hosting holiday get togethers.  No longer having those gatherings can create sadness as losing them is what is known as a secondary loss to the primary loss of that special person.  Even years later, that loss still can be painful.  Or, even if that person didn’t make a fuss over holidays, holidays still may be a reminder that someone special is gone.

Many other people have had to sever ties with their abusive families, & the holidays are a painful reminder that they are without a family.  Seeing others happily spending time with their families or talking about how they can’t wait to visit with their relatives are painful reminders of what a person in this situation is missing.

People who are unable to be with their family during the holidays experience similar emotions.  Law enforcement officers, first responders & military personnel are some examples of people in this situation.

I recently read that an estimated six percent of people struggle with depression during the holiday season.  Many of those people don’t experience depression at any other time.  Some of them also have been misdiagnosed as having Seasonal Affective Disorder because they present with similar symptoms & happen at similar times of the year. 

It’s also estimated that 64% of people with a mental illness experience worsening of their symptoms around the holidays.

If you too experience depression during the holidays, you aren’t alone by far!  Many people share your pain.  There are some things you can do that can help.

I always recommend starting with prayer.  Ask God to help you however you need.

If you feel alone, try spending time with friends whenever possible.  Go out for coffee or lunch.  Hang out at home & talk.  If they aren’t available, volunteer with a cause near to your heart or visit folks in nursing homes. 

Consider seeing a counselor.  If you aren’t able to or are uncomfortable doing this, at least write in a journal.

Have good boundaries.  Don’t say yes to every invitation.  You don’t need to be constantly busy. 

Create new traditions either just for yourself or with your family.

If you feel you must visit others on the actual date of the holiday, set aside a different day to enjoy the day with those closest to you. My paternal grandparents never celebrated Christmas on December 25.  They celebrated on the weekend between Christmas & New Year’s.  That way, no one felt pressured to be with them on Christmas day.  They could spend the day however they wanted & still enjoy my grandparents’ annual Christmas celebration.

Don’t expect your adult children to spend all day with you, especially if they have a significant other or friends they want to visit.

Keep your expectations realistic.  Don’t expect to lose this depression easily.  One good holiday won’t cure you forever.  It may take several holidays to make progress.  Or, you may not be able to shake the depression completely.  I haven’t been able to.  But, since I know it will come each year, I try to find ways to bring some joy into my life during the season.

Don’t let anyone shame you for how you feel at this time! I’ve experienced this & can’t tell you how maddening it is. People who are quick to judge lack empathy & have no business hurting someone who is already hurting. Ignore them!

I hope these tips help you!

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Filed under Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Enjoying Life, Mental Health

Special Days After Escaping Narcissistic Abuse

Special days after escaping narcissistic abuse can be very odd & very difficult days.  Many narcissists make holidays miserable in some fashion.  The overt narcissists may do everything they can to ruin the day by starting some ridiculous drama as a way to sap the enjoyment out of the day for everyone else.  Or, the covert narcissists may work hard to make special days extravagant so they may be praised for all their hard work, & make people think they’re so wonderful because there is nothing they won’t do for their family.  Whichever the case, special days make a very deep & lasting impression on victims of narcissistic abuse, & sometimes they can be very difficult even after the abuse has ended.

My late mother in-law controlled the big holidays & some special days such as her & my late father in-law’s birthdays & their anniversary.  Everyone was expected to show up to her get togethers, no excuses not to, & bask in all the hard work she put into making these days special.  I wasn’t overly fond of holidays to start with because my ex in-laws, although not narcissists, also expected certain things on the holidays & there was no excuse not to do them.  I already was fed up with holiday demands, & my mother in-law’s behavior didn’t help!  As a result, I still hate holidays even years after my last attendance at such events.  I’ve tried creating new traditions or doing things I enjoy on the day to counteract my negative mindset, but nothing has worked.  Most holidays & special days are now just another day to me at best or at worst days I dread.

In my family, my grandparents made July 4th into a celebration combined with a family reunion.  As a kid, I loved it.  I got to see my two favorite people, my grandparents, & it was always a fun time with my family lots of fireworks.  It’s only been in the very recent past that it occurred to me that most of those people I was so happy to see each July 4th are narcissists.  I can think of eight people off the top of my head that have been utterly cruel to me.  That’s a lot of people in just one family!

Since you’re reading this, it’s safe to assume your story is similar.  I’m sorry for that.  My hope is to help you to handle this situation in a healthy way.

I always recommend prayer as the best place to start because, well, it is.  God knows us much better than even we do, & is infinitely smarter than us.  What better source could there be for help?!  Just ask Him to help you to in this situation & He will. 

You can try creating new traditions that have nothing to do with the narcissist, too.  Do something that is pretty much the opposite of what the narcissist did.  Create a calm environment without pointless drama.  Rather than participate in the usual traditions, do something unique like take a trip somewhere you like.  For example, instead of spending Christmas exchanging gifts & eating turkey & all the usual fixings, go to the beach for a couple of days.  Or, maybe go to the mountains or go skiing with friends.  After doing this once you might want to make it an annual tradition.

If this doesn’t help you to find some joy in special days, I understand totally since it didn’t help me much either.  It’s ok!  Instead, you could write out what you feel in your journal, leaving nothing out.  Granted, this isn’t going to add a lot of fun to your day, but it may help you to figure out how you can begin to enjoy special days again. At least it’ll help purge you of negative feelings.

If your situation is more like what I described with my family, you once enjoyed gatherings & only later realized there were many narcissists there, you’re going to need to grieve.  This is a loss, finding out your family members are narcissists, & it should be treated as such if you are to move past this painful realization.  It’s important to remember that moving past it is a realistic goal.  Getting over it may not happen.  Hopefully it will, but if you find that you simply can’t, don’t beat yourself up over it.  I haven’t been able to get over the realization with my family either.  It still hurts, but so much less than it once did.  And, once you get to a place of healing, you might be able to find joy in special days by doing things you like & creating new memories.

I wish you the best in your healing journey! xoxo

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Dysfunctional Family Holiday Gatherings

During the holiday season, many families get together.  They share a good meal & enjoy each other’s company.  There is no pressure about these gatherings & everyone genuinely looks forward to them.

Then there are the dysfunctional family gatherings.  They are something very different.

On first glance, dysfunctional family gatherings may look the same as their functional counterparts.  Family members get together & share a big meal.  But, that is often where the similarities end.

With dysfunctional families, the stress is terrible.  There is usually intense pressure to show up at the get together no matter what.  Sick?  Who cares?  You aren’t so sick you can’t attend!  Car trouble?  So what?  Figure out how to get there!  You would prefer to spend the day at home or with some friends?  Clearly something is very wrong with you!  No one is as worthy of your time as the dysfunctional family, & the holiday dictator will be highly offended if you even consider spending time with anyone else.  You need to attend this gathering & act like you are happy when you’re there, even if you are miserable.  Your misery means nothing, after all.  This gathering is all about appearances, not about having a good time.

There’s also the dysfunctional clique action.  Some people are going to shun other people or at the very least talk badly about them.  Maybe the other people didn’t bring a large enough casserole.  Maybe their gifts didn’t cost as much as the shunning people think they should have cost.  Maybe the other people weren’t wearing the appropriate holiday attire.  In any case, something will be found to criticize even when there isn’t anything to criticize.

The truth is that very few people genuinely enjoy this get together.  They may dread it but feel no other option is available but to attend & pretend to have a wonderful time. 

So why participate in this gathering at all?  Wouldn’t it just make more sense to do whatever you enjoy on the holidays & forego the dysfunctional family nightmare hoopla?  It would, but few will do that.  There are several reasons why.

One reason is no one wants to anger the holiday dictator.  Doing so can result in guilt trips, anger, &/or shaming.  No one wants this.  Many people think it is simply easier to sacrifice a holiday than to deal with the guilt, anger or shaming.

Another reason is that by participating in these get togethers, it gives the delusion that this family actually is a big, happy, functional family.  They can pretend that everyone gets along & is a “normal” family because after all, they got together for this holiday gathering.  That is a perfectly normal thing to do, so it must prove they are all normal.

When you are aren’t someone who is capable of blindly going along with people’s delusions & denial, these gatherings can be described as nothing less than excruciating.  The fakeness of it all is exhausting & repulsive to those who believe in facing the truth.

When you are faced with these dysfunctional family gatherings, you can cope.  You have choices.

You can choose not to attend.  This decision is a tough one, because those who are in favor of this get together will judge & criticize you harshly for not attending.  Even so, it may be worth it.

You can attend, but with strict boundaries in place.  You can avoid the critics as much as possible.  You also can set a specific time to give to this gathering then leave at the allotted time.

If you attend & the critics start their nastiness, you also can simply say, “Well, isn’t that nice” & walk away.  In the southern part of the United States, that comment is known to be a polite way of saying, “I really don’t care.”   I have said it many times then walked away.  It feels good!  It also tells the critics their opinion means nothing to you. Believe it or not, you do have options during the holiday season.  Exercise them!  It is your right!

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When People Choose To Spend A Holiday With Your Abuser

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When People Judge You For How You Celebrate (Or Don’t Celebrate) Holidays

The holiday season is a very popular time of year for narcissists.  Overt narcissists love ruining everyone’s joy by causing discord around holidays.  Covert narcissists love throwing parties, cooking, baking, buying tons of gifts & making sure everyone knows how hard they worked & sacrificed.  This sort of thing can lead to a lot of dread of holidays in many of us who have been subjected to holidays with narcissists. 

As if that isn’t bad enough, there are also those who judge those of us who are less than thrilled with holidays or even choose not to celebrate them.  I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been criticized for not liking holidays or celebrating them anymore.  I wish these judgmental jerks would experience just a part of what I have, then see if they can maintain their “holiday cheer.” 

Since that’s impossible, I figured I would discuss this topic for those of you who share my lack of enthusiasm & give some points you can bring up to the judgmental folks if you need to.

Not everyone is going to think the same about holidays, & there is nothing wrong with that!  Everyone is unique, right down to their fingerprints & DNA.  Just because someone celebrates in a way that is different than you doesn’t mean they’re automatically wrong.  It just means they want to do something different.  What gives anyone the right to say their way of celebrating is the only way to celebrate?

Some people are what I refer to as holiday Nazis.  They want what they want, when they want it for holidays, & there is zero tolerance for disobedience.  My mother in-law was like this as was my first mother in-law.  What makes the wishes of these people so important anyway?  What if someone wants to spend the day at home with their immediate family instead of attending some big party?  Why is that wrong?  I don’t see how it is. Again, it’s different, not wrong.  Besides, these people & their demands can ruin holidays for even the most die hard holiday fanatic.  How is that so difficult to understand?  It’s only normal that after repeated ruined holidays a person comes to dislike them.

Some people are also dysfunctional & not willing to work on it.  For them, holidays are a time to prove that their family isn’t dysfunctional, but a big, happy family.  These people can’t stand those of us who don’t go along with the charade, because we threaten their delusions.  Rather than face the truth, they attack those of us who live in it for not going along with their big happy family act.  How does this make any sense?  It only makes sense in the minds of the dysfunctional fools who behave this way.

And, what if someone has found a way to enjoy holidays that works for them?  Why is that worthy of criticism?  Holidays are supposed to be about joy, peace & love.  Where is any of that in judging how someone spends holidays? 

Those of us who have had more bad than good holidays don’t need judgment & criticism about what we want to do.  We don’t need to hear that we are wrong for how we choose to celebrate or if we choose to ignore the day.  We don’t need to be criticized because we prefer Italian food or some other food over traditional holiday fare.  We don’t need to have our faith brought into question because we don’t celebrate Christmas the way other people do.  Not celebrating Christmas the traditional way has absolutely nothing to do with a person’s faith in God any more than not celebrating Thanksgiving makes a person ungrateful.  No one should be made to feel flawed or “less than” simply because they choose to live their life in a way that brings them peace & joy.  If someone tries to make you feel badly for how you celebrate or don’t celebrate this holiday season, remember that clearly they have the problem, not you.  Functional people don’t try to ruin other people’s joy.

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When People Choose To Spend Holidays With Your Abuser Instead Of You

Probably no one wants to create the appearance of a big happy family more than the most dysfunctional families.  Holidays give them the opportunity to pretend that is what they have by inviting everyone to some big hoopla & pretending everyone gets along.  These families ignore the fact that someone in this family has abused someone else, & they invite both people to their get together.

This big happy family charade forces many people to make an awful choice – be face to face with their abuser or spend holidays alone.  Neither is a good solution for the victim.  I know, because this was my life for many years.

My in-laws always had huge get togethers on Thanksgiving, Christmas, Mother’s day, Father’s day… you name it.  I ideally wanted to spend holidays with my husband rather than his family who clearly hated me, maybe at best spending some time with them on another day near the holiday.  This wasn’t acceptable, however.  Holidays were to be celebrated on the exact day, no exceptions & no excuses for not being there.  Until my husband’s parents died, you probably could count on one hand how many holidays we spent together because I quit going.  Sadly, spending holidays alone was a better option to me than spending it with the people who treated me like dirt, even though it ultimately resulted in me detesting holidays.

I believe many other people are in this same boat or at least a similar one.  You want to spend the holidays with someone but they want invite your abuser to the same gathering, or they refuse to stop attending the gathering that your abuser attends.

You need to know today that your feelings are valid.  In essence, this person is choosing your abuser over you, & you have every right to be angry & hurt about that.  Accept that your anger & hurt are valid emotions!  Cope with them however works for you.

Maybe this person feels it’d be rude not to invite the abusive person or for them not to attend the same gathering.  In dysfunctional families, in particular narcissistic ones, it’s all about appearances.  No one wants to shun someone even if they are abusive.

Most people also don’t want to face the fact that someone they care about is an abusive monster.  For them, it’s easier not to acknowledge your claims of abuse.  Out of sight, out of mind, basically.

There also is the possibility that you’re the safe one to make angry & the other person isn’t.  Abusive people often get their way because others know that making them angry means they are going to suffer badly.  Some people don’t have the inner strength to stand up to people like this.  It’s easier for them to give the abuser their way.  Sure, you’ll be angry, but your anger isn’t as painful for them as the abuser’s anger.  Your anger may be unpleasant but at least it’s not the sheer torture of the abuser’s anger.

By saying these things, I’m not making excuses for those who choose abusers over victims in this manner.  I’m just offering some explanations as to why people behave this way.  Maybe it will help you not to be as hurt & angry when you see that it’s nothing to do with you.  A person who does this is the one with some issues!

As for you, if you opt to avoid these gatherings, try to enjoy your day somehow.  Take it as a day off for doing whatever you like.  Indulge in a favorite hobby, watch movies, or even clean out the closet.  Or, spend it with close friends.  Do whatever will help you to enjoy your day in a healthy way, & leave the dysfunction to those who are comfortable with it.  xoxo

 

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For Those Who Lack Joy Around Holidays & Birthdays

I truly dislike holidays & birthdays, & have felt this way for years.  The reason I feel this way is also the reason for so much negativity in my life.  It boils down to narcissistic behavior.

For all of my adult life, I’ve had demanding in-laws, both past & present, who expected my husband & I to do only as they wanted on holidays with no concern to anyone’s wishes beyond theirs.  In fact, my current in-laws claimed almost all holidays before they died, not only Thanksgiving & Christmas, but also Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter, etc.  I’ve also had husbands who felt they must obey their demanding parents no matter what I felt.  My birthday also has been ruined by narcissists more times than it hasn’t been.  This all has ruined the joy I once felt about holidays.  Seems quite understandable to me that I dislike special days now, but many people can’t seem to grasp this.  In fact, many have been very critical of me for my feelings.

I thought I should write this for those of you who share similar experiences &/or feelings about special days.

You need to understand that if you feel as I do, your feelings are reasonable & valid.  They are there for a reason, so don’t discount them.  I know, most people can’t stand to learn a person doesn’t look forward to special days with a sense of glee, but they don’t understand that sometimes things happen.  Sometimes one truly severe or traumatic thing can happen that instantly destroys your fondness of these days, such as the death of a loved one close to or on a holiday.  How could anyone look forward to a holiday again when it’s a reminder of one of life’s most painful experiences?

Other times, you experience the same special day misery over & over again every single year.  Maybe you’re forced to spend the day with someone who abused you.  You know it’s not going to be pleasant to put it mildly.  There is no way you’re going to happily anticipate holidays knowing what unpleasantness is coming your way.

Even if you haven’t experienced something awful around the holidays, you may have a family that only comes together on holidays, & the phoniness of it bothers you.  That is one thing that rubs me very wrong about many holiday get togethers.  If this group of people only sees each other on a holiday, why are they seeing each other at all?  Why don’t they call each other or hang out together other times?  To me, that feels incredibly fake, & it gets under my skin badly.  I want no part of such get togethers because of the phoniness of it all.

Whatever your story, it’s ok to feel as you do.  Accept that about yourself without judgment.  If you’re struggling to do so, then imagine your closest friend came to you sharing their story which is yours.  What would you tell that friend?  Would you shame him or her for feeling that way or would you tell your friend you understand?  Tell yourself whatever you would tell that friend.

Try to deal with your feelings however works best for you.  Pray, journal, talk to someone safe & non judgmental.  Talking through this helps a great deal to release so much pain inside you.  Writing does, too, & it also can help to bring clarity to your situation & validate you.

I’m not going to tell you that you need to try to change your feelings & learn to love the holidays.  That is up to you if you want to try to do that.  I did, but it felt fake to me which is something I just can’t tolerate in myself.  But, maybe it’ll work for you.  If so, create new traditions just for yourself,  Spend the day with special friends.  Or, if you spend the day alone, make it a day just for you by doing something you thoroughly enjoy such as reading, watching good movies or going to a park.

I truly wish you the best in your situation!  It’s not easy feeling like a holiday villain in a society that demands everyone enjoy the holidays.  xoxo

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Holiday Stress

The holiday season is officially upon us, which means those of us with narcissistic parents &/or in-laws are filled with dread.  We know the narcissists in our lives have unrealistic expectations of us every day of the year, but holidays often seem to up those expectations.

My late mother in-law would tell me when I was to be where on which holiday.  She never said the exact words, but it was clear there was no excuse for me not to be there.  The same with my ex mother in-law.  Not obeying meant facing their anger.  It also meant spending the day without my husband & being angry with him for choosing his family over me.  Obeying meant spending the day surrounded by people who disliked me, & me resenting them.  Since many others with narcissistic parents or in-laws face this same scenario, I thought I would share some thoughts on the holidays.

Remember, you are an adult.  You do NOT have to blindly obey your parents or in-laws when they demand you spend a holiday with them.  When you disobey their orders, chances are good they will be upset.  They will try to guilt trip you for not wanting to spend time with “family”, or show their disapproval in some other way such as with criticisms or even the silent treatment (if you’re lucky…).  Remind yourself as often as necessary that you have nothing to feel guilty about.  There is nothing wrong with wanting to spend a holiday with those you love, such as good friends rather than abusive & mean people

Also, if you want to spend a holiday with someone other than your narcissistic parents or in-laws, you can offer a compromise.  My paternal grandparents always had a big Christmas gathering on the weekend after Christmas.  That way, everyone could spend the day with whoever they wished, yet there was still a family Christmas party.  Why not do the same thing?  Does it really matter what day the day is celebrated, so long as it is celebrated?  Celebrating on a weekend also means many people don’t need to be at work the following day so they can relax more & enjoy themselves.  Since narcissists do things more willingly when they can see it benefits themselves, why not approach it from this angle?  “You won’t have to get up early the next day for work if we celebrate on Saturday instead of Tuesday.  That means you can relax/enjoy the holiday/spend more time with your family & friends.”  I know, many narcissists demand holidays be celebrated only on the exact day.  My late & ex mothers in-law were that way.  But if you approach your suggestion in a way that clearly benefits them, you stand a chance of getting your way.  This isn’t a perfect solution since you’ll still be spending a holiday with narcissists, but it does at least free up the actual holiday to spend however you like.  It’s a pretty reasonable compromise!

If celebrating a holiday on another day is not an option, set a time limit.  Determine ahead of time you’ll only spend 2 hours with them, or whatever time seems reasonable to you, then leave at the end of that time.  Tell the narcissist ahead of time that you only have a short window of time to spend with them, so you must leave by 2:00 or whenever.  No, they won’t like it, but don’t back down!  Stick to what you said, & leave at the set time.

If the demanding narcissist in question is an in-law & your spouse wants to spend the day with the narcissist, so be it.  You can’t make him change his mind.  You can, however, refuse to go.  You can stay at home & watch Netflix all day.  You can spend the holiday with friends instead.  You can create a new holiday tradition to enjoy when your spouse isn’t with you.  Trying to think of it as a day off to spend in any way you like definitely helps diminish & disappointment you feel.

Most of all, never forget to pray about your situation.  God will show you the best way to handle it & help you to get through this difficult time of year.  xoxo

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Narcissists & Gift Giving

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Narcissists & The Gifts They Give

Like everything in the life of a narcissist, the gifts they give are all about them.  They give what will benefit them in some way or what they think will make you change according to what they think you should be.  This is why so often, people dread receiving gifts from narcissists.

 

If they’re trying to win you over somehow such as in the early stages of dating or after an argument, narcissists may give a good gift.  That gift is supposed to help buy your love or forgiveness.  That gift may be extravagant or something you mentioned wanting.  My ex husband gave me only 2 nice gifts in our entire relationship.  The first one was about 2 months after we met, for my birthday.

 

Narcissists also may give a gift to make you indebted to them.  Maybe you are supposed to give them a gift in return.  Maybe the gift they gave you is very expensive so you feel obligated to tolerate their abuse because they spent so much on that gift.   Maybe you showed signs of wanting to end the relationship & this gift was supposed to make you want to rethink that move.

 

Often, narcissists give terrible gifts.  They lack the desire to be a blessing, & that shows in the gifts they give in particular on days like birthdays or Christmas.  They’re only giving gifts on these days because they have to in order to look good, not because they want to.  As a result, no thought or consideration goes into the gift.

 

Other times narcissists give awful gifts is when they try to change their victim.  For example, my mother gave me clothes for my birthday or Christmas for years.  While clothes in general aren’t a bad gift, they are when the clothes aren’t in the receiver’s taste, but are the giver’s.  Our tastes are extremely different & that was a problem for her.  My mother wanted me to like what she likes, & this was one way to try to force me to dress like she thought I should dress.  My late mother in-law did the same.  A few months before Christmas one year, I mentioned in passing that I hate to cook.  Yes, I do it because I don’t want us to starve, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy it.  For Christmas that year, she & her daughters all gave me a LOT of cooking paraphernalia.  Cook books, utensils, food, & a big ugly pasta dish I later used in the attic when the roof was leaking.. lol

 

Sometimes bad gifts are also a way for a narcissist to let you know they hate you without saying the words.  A narcissistic mother in-law who dislikes her daughter in-law will give her terrible gifts, as one example.  My late mother in-law gave me a Christmas sweater (I’m NOT into Christmas or Christmas sweaters), polyester slacks (not a fan) & other gifts that were clearly NOT my taste.

 

Sometimes they may “forget” to give you a gift at all.  This is just one way to let you know you aren’t important to them or the gift giving day (your anniversary, Valentine’s day, your birthday, etc) isn’t important to them.

 

Or, narcissists may give away a gift you gave to them either to hurt you or out of thoughtlessness.  My sister in-law gave me this cute little knick knack many years ago.  I thanked her & said it was cute.  She said she thought so, & was sure her mom would like it.  She gave it to her.  A few months later, her mother gave it to her & said something like, “I don’t know where this ugly thing came from.  You can have it.”  She said seeing it hurt her badly so she wanted rid of it.  Since I thought it was cute, I could have it.  My heart broke for her when she told me that story.

 

When you get an awful gift, it’s best not to let the narcissist know how awful you think it is.  If you do, the narcissist can play the victim & tell other people how ungrateful you are, making you look like a jerk.  Rather than ask for the receipt so you can return or exchange the gift, simply thank her for the gift, then when you can, quietly give it to someone who you know would like it or give it to a charity.

 

Likewise when you get a great gift, it’s best not to let the narcissist know you really like it.  If you do, the narcissist is going to get a ton of narcissistic supply from that, & feel that you owe her for giving you this awesome gift.  Simply thank her for the gift.

 

It’s always best to implement the Gray Rock method as much as possible when dealing with narcissists, including when they give gifts.

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Mother’s Day Is Fast Approaching

The most dreaded day of the year for daughters of narcissistic mothers is upon us.  Mother’s day.  *insert screams of horror here*

 

So what thoughts have been running through your mind?  Let me guess… something like these?

 

  • Where can I find a card that doesn’t make me nauseous by discussing a mother’s constant, unfailing love?  Does anyone sell nice, simple “have a nice day” cards?  (Actually, I’ve found the Dollar Tree stores do, just FYI.)
  • Should I get her flowers &/or a gift?
  • Do I really have to spend time with her?  I just saw her 2 months ago…
  • What fresh hell is she going to put me through this year?  Stories of how miserable she was when pregnant with me, what a terrible child I was or how much I’ve disappointed her?
  • Do I really have to do anything at all?!  I don’t wanna!

 

Take a deep breath, Dear Reader… now exhale.  Try to relax.  You can get through this!

 

Before you opt to do anything, pray for wisdom, strength, & anything else you feel you need.  Once that is done, start thinking logically & calmly about your situation, taking it one step at a time.

 

Do you feel you should get your mother a card?  Yes?  OK, then go shopping for a card.  Look for something very simple that basically says, “I hope you have a nice Mother’s Day”.  Those cards exist!  Or, if you can’t find one, then find a pretty card that’s blank inside & write your own simple message.

 

Do you feel you should get your mother a gift?  If yes, then think about something small you can get her.  There’s no need to go crazy or go into debt getting her something for Mother’s Day, especially when she was a less than stellar mother.  Has she mentioned something she wants recently?  A new purse?  A new casserole dish? A new clock?  Anything?  If so & you can afford it, get it.  Not sure what to get her?  Then how about a gift card from a store she likes?  Cash also works.  Don’t beat yourself up trying to figure out the perfect gift.  It’s not worth the stress or potential debt.

 

Do you feel you should spend time with your mother on Mother’s Day?  If yes, why?  Is it because you want to honor her or because you dread her massive guilt trip &/or smear campaign if you don’t?  Be  brutally honest with yourself on this one.  If it’s simply to honor her, then absolutely do it.  If it’s because you dread the guilt & smear, then do NOT do it!  Giving in to avoid her guilt &/or smear is giving her control.  You know how narcissists are- the more you give into them, the more they expect.  That whole give an inch, take a mile thing.  Another option is a compromise if you aren’t ready not to spend the day with her.  Offer to take her to lunch or dinner on another day.  If you’re a mom, no doubt you want to spend the day with your kid(s), so do it, then take Mom out another day.  She may be mad but tough- it’s perfectly reasonable to put your kids ahead of your mom!  If you don’t have kids, make other plans for that day.  Lunch with a friend.  Pick up an extra shift at work.  Something!  Anything!  You can make it sound like your plans are unchangeable too.  Work really needs you in that day (true- they need you more than she needs to abuse you!).  Your friend is having a tough time lately or this was the only time your friend has available (both of which are entirely possible scenarios).  If your mother starts with her guilt trip, tell her you have to go immediately & will talk to her later.

 

If you’re no contact, that first Mother’s Day can be rough.  Don’t give in to guilt & send her a card or gift!  If you do, your narcissistic mother will see that as you having weak boundaries or you feel guilty for being so “mean” to her.  She also may take it as the end of no contact & before you know it, she’s in your life again.  Don’t let that happen!  Maintain no contact for the sake of your sanity!

 

I know Mother’s Day is a tough day but you can & will get through it.  Really!  You can do this!  xoxo

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Thanksgiving Day, aka “Forced Family Fun”

Since Thanksgiving is a few days away, & many of you feel forced to deal with your narcissistic families on the day, I thought I would write a post for you in that position, Dear Readers.

 

All of us with narcissistic parents or in-laws know they can make the holidays hell on Earth, yet we often feel powerless to avoid these days.  The good news is that you aren’t as powerless as you think.

 

You don’t have to spend holidays with your narcissistic family if you don’t want to.  They don’t have the right to order you around!  You’re a grown up, & have the right to spend the day however you like.  You don’t owe them any explanations, nor should you feel guilty if you opt to go skiing, take a trip or spend the day with friends rather than spend the day with a narcissistic family.

 

If you cannot get out of the “forced family fun,” then maybe next time, you can prepare ahead of time to have other plans.   For now, though, there are ways to cope.

 

Set boundaries on how long you will be at the gathering.  When the time is coming for you to leave, leave.  Don’t be talked into staying longer!  Say you have plans with a friend, & don’t want to be late (not lying since you’re spending time with yourself & hopefully you’re your own best friend).

 

If you have a job that requires people to work on holidays, maybe you could arrange to work on that day.  You’ll get extra pay (a bonus!) & have a legitimate excuse to leave early or not even attend.

 

If you have a significant other, I pray he or she is on your side.  The support will be helpful for you, plus they can help you to escape.  Have a code that tells the person, “I need to leave.”  If you feel unable to go, your significant other can say, “It’s time for us to go.”

 

If you opt to do something without your family or spend less time with them than usual, chances are good they will pull out all the guilt stops on you, but remember- you do NOT have to blindly obey them!  You have the right to do whatever you like to celebrate.  You aren’t hurting them by doing something different- you’re being good to yourself.  That doesn’t make you selfish, a bad son or daughter, etc. by being good to yourself.  They will get over you not being there.  Or they won’t.  If they don’t, let them pout & be miserable if that’s what they want.

 

Take back your power, Dear Reader, & spend holidays however you like!

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The Holiday Season Is Upon Us

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!

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Disliking Birthdays & Holidays

Recently I was talking with one of my readers about holidays. She mentioned Mother’s Day in particular, & said how much she hates the day. Obviously, she has a narcissistic mother. Anyway, she said she has been working on changing her attitude & focusing on enjoying the day with her children, because she doesn’t like feeling this way about the holiday. It hasn’t gone well. Even after several pleasant Mother’s Days, she still isn’t a fan of the day, & felt guilty about her “failure.”

From my experience, I have seen this as a pretty common scenario for adult daughters of narcissistic mothers. Not just with Mother’s Day, but birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving or other special days.

I’m no different. After countless awful birthdays, Christmases, & Thanksgivings, I couldn’t care less about those days. I have tried to enjoy my birthday at least, celebrating with friends each year for the last few years. It has been fun, until this year when I was sick & unable to celebrate. Also, my husband wasn’t able to leave work early like he was supposed to be able to do. We were going to spend the day together. Instead, I wasted my day waiting on him to come home instead of enjoying myself. My old feelings of wanting to ignore my birthday came back with a vengeance as a result, & I realized it may be permanent this time.

While aiming to have a positive attitude about days that have been bad for you is certainly a good thing, I’ve come to realize that sometimes, the best you can do is learn not to hate the day. I don’t mean to sound negative, just realistic.

I’ve heard that it takes ten praises to eliminate the negative effects of one criticism. Honestly, I think it takes more. I also think that bad holidays are much like that- it takes a lot of really pleasant holidays to change your negative feelings. I also think that one negative one thrown in with the good ones can hinder changing how you feel. It can set you back.

The reason I am telling you this, Dear Reader, is so that you won’t feel guilty like the lady I mentioned at the beginning of this post if your attitude isn’t better. Unfortunately this happens sometimes due to bad experiences, & beating yourself up about how you feel won’t help you improve your attitude! If anything, it only makes it worse.

So, Dear Reader, if you are dreading holidays or your birthday, I truly wish you the best with learning to enjoy those special days! I pray you will be able to do so! However, if you are unable to, please don’t beat yourself up over it! Unfortunately it happens sometimes. Just know you are not alone in how you feel. xoxo

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May Your Christmas Be Peaceful & Narcissist-Free!

Good morning Dear Readers!

I wanted to take a moment to wish all of you a very merry Christmas tomorrow.  May your day be peaceful & full of joy!  I know for many of us with narcissistic parents & in-laws, the Christmas season can be very stressful & full of negativity.  If that describes your Christmas, you’re not alone.  I understand how you feel, which is why I try to make Christmas day a day I can spend relaxing & goofing off, minus the narcissists.  I hope you too can enjoy the day doing whatever you like!  If you must deal with the narcissists in your life, remember, it is perfectly OK to set time limits on how long you spend with them!  You can limit your time with them, then go home & enjoy the rest of your holiday in peace.

I would like to ask for a bit of prayer today, too… I spoke with the visiting nurse today who has been helping out with my father since he returned home from the hospital.  She said she is going to try to talk to my parents about getting some assistance.  Please pray that they will listen to this lady!  My mother hasn’t listened to me on this issue.  If she listens to the nurse instead of me on this issue, that is fine- I don’t care who talks her into it so long as they get the help they need & I can’t give!

And, I am very anxious today.  I have to take my father to the doctor about 30 minutes away today.  It’s raining, there is a lot of traffic out, it’s Christmas eve so drivers will be in a hurry & I’m driving my father’s car instead of mine.  All of this has made my anxiety levels go completely haywire.  Please pray for me to be able to relax!  Thank you!

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Handling Holiday Drama

The holiday season has begun.  This is a lovely time of year & my favorite season – the leaves are changing, the temperature is dropping, hoodies & hot chocolate or tea come out.  I absolutely adore fall!

And then there is the stress dealing with demanding relatives.

I used to love the holiday season as a kid.  My parents & I went to my grandparents’ home in northern Virginia on the Sunday between Christmas & New Year’s for a big family get together.  It was always fun.  But then I grew up & got married, & was no longer able to visit my grandparents’ home for the holidays.  My ex husband wanted to spend every Thanksgiving & Christmas with his family that lived about 2 hours away, & it had to be on the exact day- never a visit before or after the holiday.  It also didn’t matter if I was sick or didn’t want to go.  He told me he was going to be with his family.  I could go with him or not- he didn’t care.  Our anniversary was Christmas eve, & to me, it always felt like he endured our anniversary while watching the clock, anxious to get to his family’s gathering the next day.  Not a lot of fun.  Then after our divorce & I later married my current husband, his mother demanded we attend their family get togethers, sometimes at his parents’ home, other times at one of his sister’s homes about 3 hours away. Often, I also had my mother demanding we spend time with my parents on at least one holiday.  Needless to say, after years of this, I no longer love the holidays.  I no longer celebrate them.  In fact, I dreaded them for years.  I’ve been told that is wrong & I need to let go of the bitterness & celebrate the holidays again, but I no longer feel the desire.  I’m fine not celebrating, thank you very much.

Sadly, I know I’m not alone.  Many of my friends feel the same as I do & for very similar reasons, so I am sure there are many of you reading this that also feel the same way.  To those of you who dread the holidays, you’re in good company!  Don’t let others dictate how you feel- you’re allowed to celebrate them or not celebrate them.  If you opt not to celebrate them, why not do as I do?  I take the day as a quiet day to myself.  I often get Chinese take out & relax with good movies all day, or maybe work on my latest book.  It has turned into something to look forward to instead of a day to dread.

If you feel obligated to spend family time with your relatives or in-laws, just remember- you are an adult, & you can determine when you spend time with them & how much time you spend with them.  I know many in-laws are like mine- expecting their daughters in-law to act as if she doesn’t have a family anymore, & spend the holidays with her in-laws, ignoring her parents.  If you feel you must do this yet you resent it, then set a time limit!  Tell your husband you don’t want to spend all day with them, maybe two hours instead, & that you want to spend time at home with him too.  Or, suggest you visit his family the day or weekend before or after a holiday, & spend the actual holiday home with him.

Unfortunately I know some men are more concerned about spending a holiday with their family of origin than their wife.  As I said though, I’ve turned holidays into a day to look forward to & you can do the same thing. It is either do that or be angry, so why not try to turn this negative into something more positive?  Do something you enjoy that your husband doesn’t.  Take a long bubble bath.  Give yourself a manicure.  Participate in your favorite hobby.  Read a good book.  It just makes more sense to me to try to be positive about this than be angry about something that won’t change until & unless your husband wants it to change.

A funny story- about 10 years ago, I was in counseling.  My counselor was great- he was very nice, understanding & supportive.  One time I saw him just after Thanksgiving.  He asked what my husband & I did. I told him- hubby went to his parents’ house, & I stayed home knitting & watching movies.  He was flustered!  He understood why I didn’t speak to my in-laws, so he was shocked my husband went without me.  I told him it’s happened many, many times.  “But aren’t you angry?”  I said no.  “But!  But!  You have a right to be angry!”  I told him I know that. I also know it doesn’t do any good since I can’t change my husband’s behavior.  I prefer to change my perspective & just enjoy my quiet day at home.  Poor man.. he didn’t know what to say!  LOL  He did understand my point, & agreed with me.

Anyway, just remember- don’t give in to holiday pressure from demanding & often dysfunctional relatives!  Do what you feel comfortable doing!  You have every right to celebrate or not celebrate the holidays however works for you!

In case you’re wondering what I’m doing on Thanksgiving?  I’m going to spend my day relaxing, probably with netflix on the TV, furkids by my side & maybe getting in some writing.  My husband will most likely spend the day with his parents.  My mother invited me twice to go to dinner with my parents, but I refused.  She isn’t happy about it, but she will survive. She will survive & I will enjoy a peaceful, relaxing day!

I wish you, Dear Readers, a very happy, peaceful Thanksgiving as well!  xoxo

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Mother’s Day Is Coming

Good afternoon, Dear Readers.

I turned on my television today, & in a very short span of time, saw more ads regarding Mother’s Day than I can remember.  I quickly turned it back off rather than listen to the drivel about how wonderful all mothers are, & how much they deserve jewelry & flowers on May 11th. 

Since I’m hardly the only daughter of a narcissistic mother, I thought I’d write about what Mother’s Day can mean to us.

It is the day we dread most of the year, isn’t it?  It certainly is for me.  It’s so hard to want to celebrate your mother when she has done her best to make your life a living hell ever since you were born.  Plus, you know she expects admiration, gifts & cards.  Not fun.  Especially when it seems like everyone thinks you should fawn all over your mother, no matter how she treats you.

Society can be so dysfunctional.

I know all too well that commandment that says we should honor our parents.  However, I don’t believe it’s honorable to shower any abuser, even a parent, with insincere praise & gifts.  Honoring someone God’s way means showing them respect & courtesy, not being fake.  Besides, such a demonstration rewards bad behavior.  It shows your mother she can do anything to you that she wants to do, & you still will pamper her.  How is that honorable?

So what is a good, honorable way to handle such a difficult day with your narcissistic, abusive mother?  To start with, pray.  Ask God what He wants you to do, & how to handle Mother’s Day.  He will give you the best advice you can ask for.  Also, follow what you feel in your heart that you’re capable of doing.  If it isn’t much, don’t feel bad!  Any abusive mother is blessed if her adult child has any relationship with her at all, because even if she has changed for the better, child abuse causes pain & scars that last a lifetime.  By having a relationship with your narcissistic  mother, you’re showing what a kind, good person you are.

Whatever you do for your mother, do it with excellence.  I’m not saying buy her a huge diamond ring when you barely can pay rent.  What I mean is do your best even if it’s something small.  Every year, I mail my mother the nicest, prettiest card I can find.  I know she takes the messages to heart in cards, so I find the prettiest one I can find, with a picture I know she’ll like, & the simplest verse.  Something like, “Happy Mother’s Day!  Enjoy!”  I’m not above finding a pretty, blank on the inside card if I can’t find one that is simple enough for my liking.  I can’t feel right about giving my mother some fake, “You’re the best mom ever!” kind of card that I don’t mean.  But, I’m fine with a pretty card wishing her a nice Mother’s Day.  And, she seems satisfied with the cards.  It works for us both.

Granted, what I do for my mother isn’t much compared to others, but I’m honestly not capable of doing more after a lifetime of abuse.  I believe God prefers His children to be sincere rather than phoney.  You need to remember that what you do to genuinely bless your mother, on Mother’s Day & every day, will give you peace, & God will be proud of you.

Also, don’t forget to be good to yourself on Mother’s Day! Whether you have kids or furkids like I do, you’re still a mom! Or, if you don’t have either, that’s ok- take care of yourself on a difficult day. You deserve it! 🙂

There is one last thing I feel I should share with you.  I’ve often berated myself for not being a better daughter- for not calling my parents more often, or suggesting we do things together. (Usually this happens around Mother’s or Father’s Day).  Sadly, I can’t make myself improve in these areas- I’ve tried!  But do you know what?  After praying about it, God showed me that under the circumstances, I’m not a bad daughter.  My parents have abused me, & shown no remorse for it.  They’re lucky I speak to them at all, & me not wanting to spend time with them is normal.  They are reaping what they’ve sown.  Keep this in mind regarding your situation, too.  Everyone reaps what they sow, whether they sow good or bad things.  I know it can be hard to remember sometimes, but remember it anyway.  ❤

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December 24, 2013

From my family to yours, Merry Christmas! 

Meet my 9 year old American Eskimo dog, Dixie here to brighten your Christmas eve.

 

Image Image

My prayer is that everyone reading this will enjoy their Christmas, & celebrate the joy of the birth of Jesus.  If you come from a dysfunctional family like I do, I really understand how difficult this time of year can be for you.  It is so hard to enjoy family get-togethers when you are surrounded by dysfunction, manipulation, stress, etc.  As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I’m bitter about the holidays myself.  I don’t like the drama & “forced family fun.”  But please, don’t get lost in the bitterness or anxiety of the season.  Do nice things for yourself to help you enjoy the time.  There are many of us out there who share your feelings about holidays for various reasons.  You are NOT alone!  There is also nothing wrong with you for how you feel- you were made to feel this way but less than positive circumstances.  Don’t feel bad for that.  All you can do now is try to enjoy the holidays to the best of your ability, & limit your exposure to negative, abusive people.  I offered some coping tips myself in another blog post- I suggest you go back & read it if you haven’t done so now.  Here is the link: December 14, 2013 

Don’t forget to take good care of yourself, Dear Reader.  & remember, God loves you- He is with you, & loves you so much.  I love you too!  Thank you for being my fan.  ❤

 

 

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December 14, 2013

Good morning, Dear Readers!  I hope this post finds everyone well today!  🙂

I was just thinking.. is it me or is it hard to believe that Christmas will be here in only 11 short days?!  TIme sure flies.. wow!  I know like me, many of you can’t wait for it to be a thing of the past.  I was talking to a friend a few days ago who shares this sentiment.  It’s amazing how many of us there are, & how many of us feel this way for similar reasons- family or in-laws have made the holidays so stressful rather than relaxing & enjoyable.  It’s sad.

Have you created some “stay well” strategies to get you through the holidays?  If not, here are some suggestions..

  • Be gentle with yourself.  If you don’t feel up to going to a party or doing something holiday related, then don’t do it.  It’s ok!  The Earth will continue to spin..
  • If you have pushy relatives or in-laws who demand you spend the day with them, you need to do what you are comfortable with, whether they like it or not.  How would it benefit anyone for you to allow others to dictate how you spend the day?  You’ll be miserable, & controlling people get their way.  This just is NOT good for anyone involved!
  • Why not suggest getting together with others on a day near the holidays, not on the day itself?  Would it really be so terrible to get together with Mom & Dad on Christmas eve or the day after Christmas instead of Christmas day? 
  • Do nice little things for yourself. 
  • Don’t over-extend yourself.  If you don’t want to send out Christmas cards, then don’t.  If you can’t afford to get everyone gifts, don’t.  Or, if you feel you must give something, try making special gifts- many people (like me) prefer something home made to store bought anyway.  Try baking cookies for everyone.  Or making special decorations.  Or, make a cake for each family. 
  • Find ways to relax.
  • Talk to understanding friends or relatives about why you feel the way you do about the holidays.  Maybe they can help you change your perspective.  (Even if you don’t end up loving the holidays, you may be able to change how you look at them- instead of them being a day of negativity for you, maybe you can begin to look at them as a day to spend relaxing, either by yourself or with your significant other)
  • Pray.  God loves you & understands you.  He won’t judge you for how you feel.
  • If you have a significant other, see how he/she would feel about creating new holiday traditions for just the two of you.  If you two have kids, why not get the kids in on it too?
  • Speaking of significant others, if he/she wants to spend the day with the parents rather than you, like many adult children of dysfunctional &/or controlling parents do, try looking at the day not as a lonely day for you, but as a day to yourself where you can do whatever you like.  Watch old movies, order Chinese food, read that book you’ve been wanting to read, paint your bedroom, turn up your favorite old music & dance around your house like crazy!  Have fun!   

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December 3, 2013

Good afternoon, Dear Readers!

I thought I’d add a bit to yesterday’s post….  

I didn’t mention it yesterday, but one thing that has made me dislike the holidays is in-laws.  I am on my second marriage, & both sets of in-laws I have had share one thing in common- expecting their adult children & their spouses to spend the holiday with them.  Period.  No excuses.  Why that is, I have no clue, but I don’t believe it’s right.  For one thing I believe the day should be spent with husband & wife together (& small kids at home too, if they have them).  Extended family can be visited within a few days of the holidays.  My grandparents always had their Christmas celebration on the Sunday between Christmas & New Year’s.  That way, everyone could relax on Christmas day & enjoy it.  This always has made so much sense to me.  

For another thing, what about my family?  What if I wanted to spend a holiday with my family rather than his?  I’ve learned that is not something to admit- saying that warranted the evil eye from both mothers in-law.  I quickly learned not to say that, & give up hopes of spending the holiday with anyone in my family.

And lastly, if you have a dysfunctional relationship with your in-laws like me, why would anyone want to spend an entire day together?  How is that a joyous family celebration?  It saps all of the joy out of your day spending it with people who you know dislike you, & who you dislike.  It certainly has for me.  I dreaded the holidays for years, & got depressed each holiday season knowing I would spend a holiday with people who were less than thrilled I was a part of their family.  

I guess I just wanted to say please think before arranging your holiday get together.  It’s not fair to demand your adult children run to your home for a holiday.  There are 364 other days in the year- why not pick one of them to get together?  If you force them or use guilt to manipulate them into coming over, they &/or their spouses will end up resentful.  It can damage your relationship greatly!  I loved my first mother in-law, but when she knew my ex & I were having car trouble, yet still demanded we drive that car (our only one) well over an hour away, in the cold, to the Christmas get together, it greatly damaged my fondness for her.  This was in the days before cell phones, so if the car had left us stranded, I have no idea how we would have gotten home.

And remember, your adult child’s spouse has a family too.  Demanding they spend the day with you tells that person they & their family aren’t as important as you & your family.  That hurts!  It also stirs up strife between the couple.  They feel stuck in the middle since both have families who want to spend a day with them.  It is NOT a pleasant place to be!

Lastly, I understand not everyone is pleased with their son or daughter’s choice of a mate.  Some personalities just clash.  If that describes your relationship with your son or daughter in-law, then please, for your adult child’s sake, try to be civil.  You don’t have to be phoney.  You don’t have to try to become best friends.  Just practice basic politeness & civility.  Showing your dislike of that person not only hurts him or her, but shows an incredible disrespect for your adult child.  It also stirs up problems in their marriage, & makes the adult child feel stuck in the middle.  Do you really want to do that to your son or daughter?

As for daughters & sons in-law, this also applies to you!!  Practice civility with your husband’s or wife’s parents.  I know first hand how hard it can be when an in-law is mean you, but do it anyway!  

Also, don’t run to your spouse complaining about his “psycho mom” or whatever other things you’d like to say.  I know you want him or her to understand your position, but that is still his/her parent.  It’s difficult for someone to accept his/her parent is capable of doing such nasty things, especially to someone they love.  Instead, talk to a friend or relative, or write in a journal.  At a less stressful, busy time, it is more appropriate to discuss in-law problems with your spouse.  Gently & with sensitivity, of course!

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December 2, 2013

Good afternoon, Dear Readers!

Today has not been a good day.  My mind has been wandering all over the place.  Sometimes it’s like a browser with about 50 tabs that keep opening & closing at random.  Annoying doesn’t even begin to describe it… but I thought I would share some of my random thoughts with you in the hopes that maybe something will help you as well.

The holidays.. God forgive me, I absolutely hate the entire holiday season.  It feels strange to feel this way- I am all about being thankful for the blessings in life (not just on Thanksgiving day) & celebrating Jesus- but I hate the holidays.  I have been out of my parents’ home since 1990, & in these last 23 holiday seasons, I could count the number of enjoyable holidays I’ve had on one hand.  Most of them have been lonely &/or miserable.  Many spent with people I’d rather not be with.  As a result, I admit it- I’ve gotten bitter.  I just don’t want to be bothered with celebrating.  I would much rather just enjoy a quiet day relaxing, maybe watching movies on tv or going out to dinner.  Because of this, I have had a lot of people tell me how wrong I am, how i need to lighten up, let go of the past, etc etc.  I used to beat myself up because this is something I can’t seem to shake, no matter how hard I try to start new traditions or get into the holiday spirit.  I’ve finally realized that it’s ok.  I have overcome a lot of abusive, hurtful things in my life- maybe this “Grinch” attitude will be one of those things at some point, but for now, it isn’t.  

I think a lot of people are like me.  For whatever reason, you just aren’t a fan of the whole holiday season.  I just wanted to tell you to stop beating yourself up over it!  If you can’t seem to change your disdain, it’s ok!  There are quite a few of us out there.  

I’ve found some things that helped me a little at least:  

  • I’ve changed my perspective, thinking of the days as a peaceful day to enjoy myself rather than a holiday.  
  • I also refuse to spend the day with people who I don’t want to spend the day with.  They’ll still be there a couple of days before or after the holiday.  I believe it’s only right for immediate family (spouses & their kids still living at home) to spend the day together anyway.
  • I also try to plan something enjoyable for the day, like picking up dinner & watching movies.  
  • I don’t try to convince others I am right & they are wrong.  Neither of us is right or wrong.  Every person has their own likes & dislikes.
  • And, I am no longer beating myself up for being “abnormal” in feeling the way I do.  Everyone is different, & that is ok.

There are people, too, who get depressed during the winter months.  If that describes you, you may have Seasonal Affective Disorder.  SAD is caused by the lack of sunlight during the shorter winter days.  It isn’t necessarily the holidays that depress you, but the lack of sunlight.  Then, all of the work, hustle & bustle of the holidays seem like even more work, which depresses you further.  If that describes you, there are ways to cope with SAD.  A mental health professional can prescribe anti-depressants that you take during the winter months.  Or, if you prefer natural remedies like I do, St. John’s wort & Sam-E (both available in pill form) are wonderful alternatives.  Valerian root (also available in pill form) & lemon balm are very helpful for combating anxiety.  

Whatever the cause of your dislike of the holiday season, there are ways to cope with it, & possibly get rid of your dislike.  

I hope this post helps you!  God bless you!  🙂

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December 24, 2012

Good morning, Dear Readers!

I just wanted to wish all of you a very merry Christmas! I hope your day tomorrow is full of joy & peace. Remember to thank Jesus for all He has done for you, too! 🙂

It should be a quiet day around my house. I’m planning a nice dinner that hubby requested. Making him pork chops using my grandmom’s recipe for a German variation. Other than that, probably we’ll just be hanging out with the furkids. My favorite way to spend a holiday- a quiet day at home.

Take care, everyone, and God bless you!

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