Thanksgiving and Christmas Holiday Celebrations with a Narcissistic Family of Origin
© by Gail Meyers
These are some of my experiences enduring, as opposed to enjoying, the holidays as the member of an extended family of origin parented by narcissistic parents. There is also validation if you have decided to or are contemplating going no contact, as well as some tips if you continue to attend narcissistic holiday gatherings.
In addition to my Christmas article, the photos contain quotes from time tested articles promoted every year for years now on Narcissistic Personality Disorder Mother Facebook Resource Page, now Narcissism: Echo Apologetics on Facebook. (You guessed it, due to hackers and cyber-stalkers). The new name reflects our expanded topic, which also more fully discusses recovering your Christian beliefs, questions, and recovery.
The first and foremost objective of this article is to provide validation and support to the adult sons and daughters of narcissistic personality disordered parents. As you relate to these scenarios, reflect, and maybe contemplate changes, you are also encouraged to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section.
Making Healthy Choices During the Holidays
In my experience, and as many others have shared over the years, narcissistic personality disordered mothers, and narcissists in general for that matter, notoriously seem to make certain they ruin holidays and celebration. Actually, they seem at times to thoroughly enjoy it. So, whether it is Thanksgiving, Christmas, your wedding, birthday or graduation, your narcissistic mother may be certain to make every attempt to ruin your holidays and celebrations.
It is easy each year to stay in that fantasy that this year will be different. This year the extended family of origin Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday gathering will be like that Hallmark commercial that sometimes makes you cringe. This year everything will go well. This year you won't receive a gift that leaves you feeling you would have been less insulted to not have received a gift at all. This year you won't have to do all of the cooking or all of the clean up. This year so-and-so won't make those little remarks. This year the holiday won't even in a fight.
Unfortunately, if every Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season gathering has left you upset, exhausted, regretting you bothered, etc., chances are this year will be the same. Maybe instead of feeling trapped and dreading the holidays, it is time to look at some of your options. What are some of your choices as the adult son or daughter of a narcissistic mother?
No Contact During the Holidays
Some families are so toxic that your physical and emotional health is in danger – and in these cases you must carefully weigh how much damage seeing and interacting with your family will bring and whether it is worth going. Eileen Bailey, Toxic Families: Going Home for Thanksgiving, Health Central
If you have gone no contact, then you have a much better chance of having that wonderful Christmas! This is a great time to begin establishing new, healthier family holiday traditions. Prior to going no contact I think writing out your thoughts or listing the reasons you are making this choice is helpful in making it happen. If you are feeling guilty during the holidays because you have gone no contact, now is a good time to keep your list handy. If you have not made that list, now might be a good time to write it out.
It helped me to look at the situation as if it was a friend of mine, then do for myself what I would hope my friend would do for herself. That aids in removing all of the unhealthy dysfunctional family rules that have been unfairly applied to the scapegoat over the years. If you internalized those rules, replacing yourself with a dear friend in the scenario can really help.
What if you have no choice? We are being honest here. We have a choice unless we're hostages. So, if you choose to say you have no choice determine whether that is accurate or if what you may actually mean is you would rather not rock the boat by not going. Just realize you do have a choice, unless there are extenuating circumstances limiting or preventing your freedom of choice. So tell yourself the truth about yourself and the situation. If you decide to go, tell yourself you made this choice, instead of that you had no choice. If you truly had no choice, then tell yourself the truth about that, too, and see if there are options you can work toward.
No Contact Toxic Family Holidays
Surviving a Narcissistic Christmas Holiday
If you decide to attend a narcissistic family Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday gathering, then tell yourself the truth about the reasons for that choice. Consider ahead of time what can you do to survive this Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday gather with your narcissistic mother?
- Detach emotionally. I think this one can be difficult, and probably requires that you have quite a bit of recovery work under your belt. After all, Narcissistic Mother knows your buttons, and may very well be the one who "installed" them in the first place. You are choosing to attend the narcissistic holiday gathering, but you are not going to take the bait.
- Work on letting go of the fantasy that you are going to fix your narcissistic mother. Narcissistic personality disorder is a fixed disorder that does not change.
- Work on obtaining and maintaining an accurate view of what you tell yourself you're doing to "help" your narcissistic mother. For example, allowing yourself to be mistreated or abused is not really "helping" your mother, but is hurting you.
- Work on giving up on the hope that this will be the year that narcissistic mother or her flying monkeys will appreciate and express their appreciation for your time, efforts, gifts, etc. Is what you have or are doing with your time, efforts, and gifts appropriate? For example, are you purchasing gifts because you want to or begrudgingly? Maybe it's time to stop buying gifts?
- Do not accept being the slave at the narcissistic family holiday gathering. Refuse to be the scapegoat daughter who does all of the dishes and clean up after the meal, and you may even have done all of the cooking, too, while everyone else sits around - unless you truly enjoy doing so. Refuse to be the adult child who buys or furnished all of the food for the meal when others are able to pitch in. Do what you feel comfortable doing, but not because you have to do it.
- Keep yourself in a position where it won't take more than a few minutes for you to leave if you need to. .
- Do not be the hostess. If you are going to spend the holidays with a known narcissist, make sure it is at a restaurant or home where you can grab your things, husband, kids, etc., and make a quick exit if you need to.
This isn't exactly inspiring the holiday spirit, but if you are spending Christmas with a narcissistic personality disordered mother, it's about surviving as unscathed as possible. Survival.
Tips for Surviving Holiday Celebrations with Narcissists
Childhood Christmas with Narcissistic Mother
I grew up the oldest of four children, with another added once I was a young adult. For my ninth Christmas I received all kinds of presents. That was the year my step-father began sexually abusing me. I do not recall receiving anything I wanted for Christmas on any other Christmas as a child. That was a rather strong, negative message in retrospect.
At ten years old my narcissistic personality disordered mother, who treated me like junior mom in some ways, a peer, explained to me that "Christmas is for children." That is to say that as the oldest, at ten years of age, I was expected to be mature enough not to care about Christmas presents but be happy "the kids" got presents - things they wanted. What I recall getting was junk off of the dollar rack no one would want. On a related note, Dr. Peck correctly noted in my experience that narcissists notoriously give really bad, cheap gifts.
I can not recall even one Christmas as a child that did not end in arguing, fighting, and physical violence. My narcissistic parents consistently ruined the Christmas holidays.
Will I Ever Be Good Enough? by Dr. Karyl McBride
Christmas as a Young Adult with Narcissistic Mother
My step-father died when I was a young adult, but my narcissistic mother continued the tradition of ruining the holidays. She often repeated the exact same routine every holiday season for several years. She would start a fight with me just prior to the start of the holiday season. She would literally create a fight out of nowhere, then verbally assault me and tell me to get out of her life.
This translated into my child and I be uninvited to the extended family of origin holiday gatherings. Then a couple of months after the holidays I would begin to hear rumors. My narcissistic personality disordered mother always concealed her abuse with a flipped tale, telling that I had verbally assaulted her, which is playing the victim while vilifying the true victim. She would then tell everyone who would listen that I either did not attend the holiday gatherings because I was angry at her allegedly because I could get over her not protecting me from the sexual abuse or because I had not apologized to her for attacking her when I had not attacked her but she had attacked me, or something other than the fact that she had attacked and uninvited me.
This is quite a maneuver when you do not know what gaslighting is. My narcissistic mother did this several times, at some point after the holidays were over, she would then stand right to my face and very convincingly tell me how I had attacked her and owed her an apology. For the first couple of years as a young adult she was so convincing that I thought well maybe it is just two different perceptions. However, I soon caught on, and began actually writing out exactly what happened in anticipation of her pulling this maneuver on me again.
Thanksgiving: The Holiday Narcissists Will Never "Get"
Have a great holiday season sons and daughters of narcissistic mothers. I hope you start some new, healthier traditions, whether that includes no contact or putting some new steps into an old dance. If you decide your family is too toxic for you to attend their holiday gathering, your decision is fully supported by this author. If you decide to attend, keep the tips in mind. Detach emotionally (which is may require you have some recovery under your belt), don't be the slave, and be ready to leave if the trouble starts.
Please feel free to share your childhood or current Thanksgiving, Christmas or other holiday experiences in the comments.
As some of you know, I recently (2017) took the Blogger blog Narcissistic Abuse: Echo Recovery down due to relentless and ongoing hackers targeting it for several years now. While I preserved all of your insightful and enriching comments, including the ones left on this article over the years, I deleted my content in order to move it back to Hubpages. Feel free to browse the comments at the above link.
Interestingly, several years ago some of the content was moved from Hubpages to Blogger with the belief that Blogger, or more specifically Google, was "impossible" to hack. While I have never believed any site is truly "impossible" to hack, I did believe the content would be more secure, and I would be able to better protect it. That certainly did not turn out to be accurate! So, at this late date, this article has been scraped from top to bottom and I am unable to publish it on Hubpages in the exact form it was in on Narcissistic Abuse: Echo Recovery on Blogger because Hubpages marks it "duplicate." Therefore, this article like many of my other articles, is being updated.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2017 Gail Meyers