Tag Archives: thanksgiving

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.

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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.

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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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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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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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November 27, 2013

Good morning, Dear Readers!

I wanted to take a moment to wish everyone a very happy, peaceful Thanksgiving tomorrow!  Whatever you do for the day, I pray you will enjoy yourself completely.  And, for those of you who also come from dysfunctional families, do what you have to do to enjoy a peaceful, drama-free day.  There is nothing wrong with spending the holiday doing what you want, & with whom you want to spend it.  🙂

What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving?  Do you practice having a grateful heart during the rest of the year?  

I am grateful that my cat, Pretty Boy, is feeling better!  The vet is quite happy with how well he’s doing in spite of the diabetes & liver problems.  Thank you everyone who has prayed for him!  Our prayers are being answered!  I am grateful for every day we have together, & grateful for God taking such good care of my little guy!

Take care, everyone, & may God bless you!  🙂

 

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November 20, 2012

Good morning, Dear Readers!  I hope this post finds you well today.

I am grateful to say I have some new fans on my facebook page.  If you are not a fan, please check out the page at:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cynthia-Bailey-Rug/133851377431

Just so you know, I pray for all of my fans- on facebook, followers of my blog, or those who have emailed me to tell me that my writing has helped them in some way.  I love & appreciate all of you, & am glad to pray for you!

This time of year brings up talks of being grateful for what you have.  Are you grateful?  Times are tough for so many people these days, but there is still something to be grateful for- a loving spouse, great kids, adorable pets, good friends.  Try to find something to be grateful for & thank God for it.  I am very grateful for my wonderful family (human & furry!  lol), my great friends & my fans.

Wishing you a very happy Thanksgiving day, whether you spend it with family, friends or even by yourself.  I hope you enjoy the day!  

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