Tag Archives: holidays

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.

Advertisements

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