If you are reading this blog, you get it. You’ve been there. You’ve been abandoned, insulted, humiliated, with your mood and dignity wrecked. All this as you try to keep a straight face as to not offend the guests.
I remember one Christmas when my soul came crashing down. It was during my marriage to a personally disordered man. When we were out, he’d praise me to the high heavens. But behind closed doors, it was a different story.
One memorable day the two worlds fused. We were hosting a dinner party for about a dozen friends. I made sure to have a gift for each one. They too came with bags full of wrapped goodies. We had so many boxes under our little tree. When it came to sharing the presents, with only a handful of them remaining unopened, I was hit with the realization that my husband got absolutely nothing for me. It wasn’t so much that I needed anything. It was all about the gesture. While the other couples kissed and embraced in gratitude, I felt embarrassed and humiliated. He didn’t even think of me!
When I brought it up later that evening — of course he was probing all evening about why I had such a sour face in front of our guests — I told him why. He slammed the doors and left the house. When he returned, he tossed a pair of slippers at me he got at a drug store when he went there to get himself meds for acid reflux. The whole affair would be quite comedic, had it not been so devastating.
The Narc Way to Party
Narcissists and other Cluster B’s tend to be massive control freaks. I suspect that this is because their inner world is chaotic and unstable. To avoid dealing with it, they project their control-freakishness outwards. Onto their partners, friends, siblings, kids, you name it.
[Abusers] blame the world — circumstances, other people — for their defeats, misfortune, misconduct, and failures. The abuser firmly believes that his life is swayed by currents and persons over which he has no influence whatsoever (he has an external locus of control). — Sam Vaknin, Malignant Self-Love
They ruin holidays because it is a time when we pay attention to other things than their constant drama-whipping and neediness. It’s like they get jealous of the feast planning, present buying and get threatened by any hint of an involvement beyond the tight circle of two. It could also be that their old insecurities related to familiar issues rise to the surface and they try to keep them under a lid by raging or playing the victim. It could be that they have a firm idea of how the holidays should flow and will not consider any other alternative, as it would jeopardize their sense of power.
Whatever their reason may be, having festive time with a narcissist is like being around a bomb that can explode anytime. You never know what to expect.
This puts you in a dismally stressful state, draining your energy and keeping you on high alert, instead of allowing you to relax and enjoy yourself.
Since narcissists are perpetually bored, causing others grief could be their way of entertaining themselves, or even validating their own existence. With all eyes on them, they feel important. They derive pleasure from rattling the rafters and throwing logs under your feet. Your suffering delights them.
The Sociopath Planner
In addition to their empathy-less, sadistic, wayward ways, sociopaths are characterized by having infinite patience. They love to plan just how to best ruin your good time, planting seeds along your timeline.
For example, when you plan to go out with a friend for a holiday dinner, they will complain of a sore throat for days and get the fever the moment you are walking out the door. It’s all in an effort to guilt trip you and isolate you. Or ruin your good time, if you decide to go anyway (which you should and not feel guilty about it).
Or they will make up a reason to get into a fight with you and then leave the house, minutes before the guests show up, not to return until the next morning. Of course, you’ll be blamed for it all.
The scenarios are endless. Check out my video below, for more examples.
Follow Your Inner GPS
What can you do to stay sane in a world soaked in insanity? First, turn off the thinking and tune into the body. It can be very challenging to make sense of the Cluster B’s behavior. It is not normal, it is disordered.
Narcissists damage and hurt but they do so offhandedly and naturally, as an afterthought… They are aware of what they are doing to others — but they do not care. ― Sam Vaknin, Malignant Self Love
For a healthy person to try to understand how they think, scheme and plan requires a close encounter with mental toxicity. There is a better way. Rather than being stuck in cognitive dissonance and analysis-paralysis, focus on how you feel.
If it feels bad to you, it’s because something is bad for you.
Then act accordingly.
Some of the things you can do, include the following (Again, I go into much more detail in the video):
1. Refuse to play along. Don’t buy or feed into the drama. Retaliating will only add fuel to the fire. What costs them nothing, costs you LOADS of emotional energy. Instead, do your own thing and enjoy yourself as much as you can. Don’t take their words and actions personally. Be agile in your holiday plans and vocalize your concerns about the narcissist to your closest friends, so they are prepared in the event you need their support.
2. Leave the room. Or the house! You are not obligated in any way to those who are abusing you. Be aware of the ‘FOG’ tactic they use: controlling you by evoking fear, obligation and guilt. Acknowledge it and do your own thing anyway. (Check out my video, How to Obliterate The Narcissist that explores three key strategies of dealing with toxic personalities in the moment.)
3. Focus on your wellbeing — before, during and after the holidays. I find that eating well, going on runs and walks, practicing deep breathing and mindfulness and getting enough sleep have all been immeasurably helpful in strengthening my psyche. They allow me to be more grounded in myself and deal with oncoming toxicity like a Jedi.
4. Don’t invite them over. If you suspect that the person close to you might lose their temper or covertly plant digs under your skin, consider taking them off your guest list. There is nothing worse than trying to have a good time, while someone who you thought was your ally hurls insults at you and your loved ones. You have every right to say no!
5. Consider being on your own. Who said that holidays have to be spent with anyone at all? Some of my best memories (and inspirations) come from days spent solo. I’d sleep in, go on a walk, make myself healthy breakfast, curl up with a book and top the day off with spa and a glass of wine, journal handy. Society will try to push its ‘norms’ onto you. But it is ultimately up to you which of them you let in and which you leave out. It’s a practice of taking personal control and owning your life more fully.
As you head into the holiday season, remember to be gentle with yourself and follow your voice within. It is never wrong and will guide you to good places. Wishing you a peaceful holiday season, Ewa
To do deeper into the subject, check out the companion video below.
If you are suffering from the post-breakup shock of realizing that you’ve been subjected to narcissistic or psychopathic abuse, please look into my FREE three-step SOS program currently available on my website.