Tag Archives: holidays

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.

4 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health

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

 

6 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health, Narcissism

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

2 Comments

Filed under Mental Health

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

2 Comments

Filed under Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health, Narcissism

Narcissists & Special Days

Much like my last post, this one was inspired by some random ponderings related to my first marriage.

Let me set the stage for our third wedding anniversary.  My ex & I were living with his parents, which was his idea & not something I wanted to do.  About 2 months prior, I spontaneously severed ties with my mother.  I don’t even remember why anymore, but I was angry at her.  My ex also pressured me about kicking her out of my life for years.  I pretty much just snapped.  I hadn’t felt right about severing ties with my mother since doing it, because it wasn’t well thought out.

On the day of our anniversary, both of his parents were home, & planning to drive to my ex father in-law’s sister’s home in PA for Christmas, as they always did.  My ex mother in-law & I were in the kitchen talking when the phone rang.  She answered it, & suddenly darted around the corner.  It was unusual, but I didn’t think much more of it.  Later after my ex got home from work, I looked at the caller ID in our room & saw my parents’ number.  Immediately it clicked- that was why his mom hid from me while on the phone.  I mentioned it to him & said maybe I should call her back (obviously this was well before learning about NPD).  He got furious with me & I got furious back.  I got in my car & left to cool off for a bit.

When I got home an hour or two later, my ex mother in-law was waiting for me.  She took me aside & told me I had to make things right.  I upset my ex so badly, he was punching walls after I left.

I ended up being the bad guy in this whole situation.  For upsetting my ex & also upsetting his parents by “storming out of the house without telling anyone i was leaving” (I was 22- didn’t realize I had to check in with anyone at this point in my life..).

You know something though?  If my mother hadn’t called, none of this would have happened.  She knew my ex hated her as much as she hated him.  She had to know her calling would start a fight between us.  Yet, she called anyway, & on our wedding anniversary of all days!

There’s also my ex.  Another narcissist, he had to make my painful situation with my mother all about him & what he wanted & what he thought I should do.  He also had to make sure his parents knew just how upset he was & how that was all my fault, knowing his mother would intervene.

This is typical narcissist behavior!!  They just had to ruin what should have been a special & happy day.  They use anything they can to destroy any joy in their victim’s life.

My point in sharing this with you, Dear Reader, is this.  If you have a narcissist in your life in any way – parent, spouse, cousin, anything –  be prepared for your special days to be ruined.  This is one of their favorite tactics.  My third anniversary with my ex is hardly the only special day that has been ruined by narcissists in my life.  Countless birthday have been miserable.  So many Thanksgivings & Christmases have been ruined by narcissists like my pushy, demanding in-laws & my ex & current husbands opting to spend those days with them over me that now I absolutely dread those two holidays.  I used to thoroughly enjoy Christmas (not Thanksgiving so much), & now once November 1 arrives, I start dreading the pending holidays & am pretty angry until they’re done.

Narcissists love to destroy any joy in their victims.  Probably because they want their victims to be as miserable as they are.  It also makes them feel powerful if they can have some control over a person’s emotions.  Feeling powerful is great narcissistic supply, after all, so it’s no wonder they enjoy this scenario so much.

Obviously, there is no way to stop a narcissist from ruining your special days.  The best advice I have is to keep in mind that they are going to try ruining them at some point so you aren’t shocked when it happens.  It will help you to be prepared.

Your best bet is if  at all possible, avoid the narcissist completely on special days.  If you can’t, try to keep in mind they aren’t happy until those around them are totally miserable like they are.  Deprive them of that narcissistic supply.  Don’t let them see that what they do & say bothers you.

2 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health, Narcissism

Holiday Thoughts

For many people, the holiday season is a glorious time of year.  The time to enjoy friends, family & celebrations.  For others like me who have survived demanding, controlling, entitled or even narcissistic parents &/or in-laws however, the mere thought of the holidays brings about a feeling of dread.

 

My first & current mothers in-law both always demanded my husband’s & my presence every Thanksgiving & Christmas, no matter what.  Divorcing my ex & cutting my current in-laws out of my life in 2002 naturally ended their demands for me at least but the damage was done.  The enjoyment I once felt for the holidays was gone.  Years of spending holidays with people who obviously hated me or alone while my husband spent the day with his family destroyed all pleasure I’d once had in holidays.

 

I know that my story isn’t all that unusual.  So many others have been through very similar situations that I thought sharing some thoughts I’ve had on this topic might help you, Dear Reader.

 

When you develop this holiday bitterness, people aren’t always understanding.  Most people seem to want everyone to look forward to holidays with enthusiasm & joy, & if you don’t, they can be shaming.  Many others I know & I have been scolded for not trying to enjoy holidays, told they need to just focus on the joy of the day, everyone loves holidays, etc etc.  What these people fail to realize is this holiday bitterness didn’t happen over night.  We have tried to enjoy the holidays repeatedly, but demanding people ruined it by commanding us to do what they want us to do & treating us badly when we didn’t do it (well, often worse than usual since bad treatment is the norm with narcissists).  It came about when in-laws demand we ignore our own family in favor of them, & treated us badly & acted like something is wrong with us for not wanting to spend a holiday with them.  They also shame us for wanting to spend a holiday with our immediate family- our spouse & kids- rather than with them.  These people think shaming us & ordering us around is OK.  Really, how does that make any sense?

 

I’m not saying holiday bitterness is a good thing.  Frankly, it stinks!  I miss looking forward to the holidays & hate how I dread what was once a time of year I looked forward to.  What I am saying though is that there is no shame if you feel differently about holidays than the average person does.

 

Sometimes, too many bad seeds have been sown to overcome.  Something unpleasant is the only possible harvest when that happens.  Of course it’s a good idea to try to counteract the bad feelings, but if nothing works, it doesn’t mean something is wrong with you or that you’re a bad person.  If you can’t conquer holiday bitterness, it just means that some really bad things have been done that caused you to feel this way.

 

Dear Reader, I’m sorry you feel this nasty holiday bitterness.  I hope you can conquer it by starting your own traditions, avoiding negative people around the holidays, suggesting holiday gatherings with extended family on a different day near the actual holiday while you spend the holiday with your immediate family, etc.  If you can’t however, then at the very least, please don’t beat yourself up over it.  It’s simply a normal reaction to abnormal circumstances, & it happens more often than you might think.

8 Comments

Filed under Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health, Narcissism

Narcissists & Gifts

Christmas is just around the corner, & those of us with narcissistic relatives know what this means- bad gifts!

 

Narcissists are notoriously bad at selecting gifts.  To give someone a good gift, you have to look beyond yourself.  You have to know the person you’re giving the gift to, & understand her tastes.  These are impossible tasks for narcissists.  Since they don’t want to think of anyone but themselves or how people can do for them, they give lousy gifts.  Or, they give someone what they think the person needs to have- clothes in the narcissist’s taste, a CD by the narcissist’s favorite artist even though the receiver doesn’t care for that artist, things pertaining to the narcissist’s interests even though the receiver couldn’t care less about such things.

 

So what happens when you get these awful gifts?  It’s not like you can say, “This is horrible!”  True as that may be, you’ll end up being accused of being ungrateful, mean, etc etc etc.  The same goes if you nicely ask for the receipt so you can exchange it.  Unless the item is obviously broken & needs replacing, the narcissist will be offended that you don’t appreciate their “awesome” gift.

 

I have found the best way to handle this is to remember, keep it simple.  Thank the person for the gift (without a lot of fuss, just “Thank you”), take it home, then find someone who will like the item & give it to them.  Don’t know someone?  Give it to the Salvation Army or other charitable organization that has thrift stores- someone will enjoy it!

 

My mother insisted on giving me clothing in her taste all of my life.  Usually, I hate it.  But, I still thanked my mother & took it home, then gave it to the Salvation Army.  My mother in-law & sisters in-law gave me cooking paraphernalia one Christmas after I said how much I hate to cook.  I gave the big cookbook to my best friend who enjoyed it since she likes cooking.  Other items went to the Salvation Army or were given away.  The giant ugly pasta dish, however, went into my attic when the roof sprung a leak just before we replaced it.  It was the only thing I had that fit in this odd, narrow little area.  (I’m not proud of it, but that made me very happy to do..lol)

 

I know, getting iccky gifts from narcissists isn’t fun, but it needn’t be a hassle.  Just keep it simple when you thank them so they don’t get too much narcissistic supply (otherwise you can count on getting more, similar bad gifts in the future), & later discreetly give it away to someone who will enjoy it.

25 Comments

Filed under Mental Health, Narcissism

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!

5 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

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!

Leave a comment

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health, Narcissism

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health, Narcissism

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

1 Comment

Filed under Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health, Narcissism

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.  ❤

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health, Miscellaneous

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!   

1 Comment

Filed under Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health, Miscellaneous

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!  🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health, Miscellaneous

December 27, 2012

Hello, Dear Readers!  I hope this post finds you well!  I also hope your Christmas holiday was a good one.

Ours was nice & peaceful.  We played board games, & watched “A Christmas Story’ on tv.  I fixed us a nice German style dinner.  Exactly the kind of day I like.  I have lost my love of the more traditional Christmases after many, many bad Christmases over the last 20+ years, so the more non-traditional things suit me fine.  

I’ve been working on the new book.  It’s going pretty well- about 70 pages so far.  Today for some reason, I hit a writing block, so I’m going to ignore the book for a day or two.  I think it’s just stress- I’m not good at handling stress anymore.  Anyway, distance can be very beneficial to alleviating writer’s block.  When you do go back to writing, it’s like you have a fresh view of your work, & creativity can flow easier.  Most times, anyway.  

So I’ve been using this free time to read a wonderful book- “Homer’s Odyssey” by Gwen Cooper.  Homer is a blind kitty, & he is utterly amazing.  If you love animals, at least cats, it’s a great read!!  Homer reminds me of a smaller, blind version of my first cat, Magic.  Highly intelligent, devoted, protective, loving, playful.  Quite a special guy!

Hope everyone has a great day, & in case I don’t get back here in the next few days, a very blessed new year!!!

 

4 Comments

Filed under Animals, Miscellaneous, Writing