Christmas with Narcissistic Personality Disordered Mother
|George C. Scott as Scrooge by Robert Doucette|
http://bobdoucette.com/ via Wikimedia Commons
© by Gail Meyers
Bahumbug! Narcissistic personality disordered mothers are Scrooges at Christmas. They delight in ruining your holidays and celebrations. Whether it is Thanksgiving, Christmas, your wedding, birthday or graduation, they will ruin it. Yes, it's that time of the year again.
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, you are also encouraged to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section.
First of all, let's stick to reality and be honest. Daughters of narcissistic personality disordered mothers need to drop the fantasy that this will be the year we have the family Christmas we always wanted.
I do not mean to be a scrooge, but my point is to be realistic. If every Christmas with your narcissistic personality disordered mother has been a disaster, chances are it will be the same as it has always been. Narcissists high on the spectrum do not really change. So what is an adult son or daughter to do?
No contact can be a beautiful thing if your mother is high on the narcissism spectrum with a corresponding high level of toxicity. 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 that choice. 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 what I would hope my friend would do. That aids in removing all of the unhealthy dysfunctional family rules that have been to 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. So, if you choose to say you have no choice what you may actually mean is you would rather not rock the boat by not going. Just realize you do have a choice.
So you decide the go, but you tell yourself you made this choice instead of that you had no choice. What can you do to survive this Christmas with narcissistic mother?
- Detach emotionally. This is going to take some healing work on your part to be able to successfully pull this one off. You are choosing to go, but you are not going to take the bait. Forget the fantasy that you are going to fix the narcissist. You are not going to succeed where a team of therapists would fail. Drop that delusion that you are going to help narcissist mother. Narcissist mother does not want to be fixed or helped. Give up the fantasy that this year the narcissist will appreciate your efforts, gifts, etc.
- Do not accept being the slave. Oh, narcissistic personality disordered mother may indeed want this kind of help. You know, the help where the scapegoat daughter does all of the dishes after the meal while everyone else sits around. Or, the help where one of her children always buys most of the food for the meal. Do what you feel comfortable doing, but not because you have to do it. It is pretty easy to see the unwritten dysfunctional family rules when you replace one person with another. For example, switch the role of the golden child and the scapegoat. The differences in the expectations are the unfair, unwritten dysfunctional family rules.
- Be prepared to leave the minute things get ugly. The backhanded jokes, the snide comments about gifts, etc. 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.
Here are some of my Christmas experiences with a narcissistic personality disordered mother. Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments.
Childhood Christmas with Narcissistic Mother
I grew up the oldest of five children. By the age of 10 years old I was told, "Christmas is for children." Since my narcissistic mother regarded me as a peer rather than a child, I was expected to understand this and show some maturity. By maturity, I mean I was supposed to understand why the younger kids got presents they wanted while I got crap off of the dollar rack no one would want.
My siblings' presents were not usually thrilling as I recall, but they were at least something they wanted. Of course, no one opened presents or had the Christmas meal in peace. I can not recall even one holiday season during my childhood that did not involve a major ordeal of screaming, arguing, physical abuse, etc. Merry Christmas everyone!
Christmas as a Young Adult with Narcissistic Mother
As a young adult, following the early demise of my step-father, my narcissistic mother repeated the exact same routine every holiday season for several years. Just prior to the start of the holiday season my mother would start a fight with me. Absolutely out of nowhere she would start a fight with me. She would then verbally assault me and tell me to get out of her life. This meant I was no longer invited to the extended family holiday gatherings.
Slowly but surely after the holidays were over, I would begin to hear rumors. She always concealed her abuse with a flipped tale, telling that I had verbally assaulted her. I call it a flipped tale, but it is also referred to as vilifying the victim. She would then tell that I either did not attend the holiday gatherings because I was angry or because I had not apologized to her.
At some point after the holidays 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 several years as a young adult she was so convincing that I thought well maybe it is just two different perceptions.
Soon I started actually writing out exactly what happened in anticipation of the gaslighting and slander. I got to the point that when she started an argument from out of nowhere, I would tell her I am not taking the blame.
I would actually try to interrupt her script or tell her to stop, but to no avail. Right in the middle of a friendly conversation she would suddenly start saying she is not going to put up with this, etc. She may well have been having one side of a conversation for whomever was her audience while she was on the phone to me. That is how unnatural it was when she started.
It literally did not matter what I said or did not say, even if I said I had seen this routine before. She would simply carry on with her melodrama regardless of what I said. She would tell me to get out of her life, tell everyone I had done that to her and after the holidays act like she deserved an apology.
By that time, she had most of the family mad at me because she had told them some ridiculous lie about what happened. When a narcissist does this to a target over many years, many people just assume it is true. They will destroy other relationships in just this manner before you have the slightest idea what is going on.
Note: Narcissists are notorious for giving really bad, cheap gifts. Dr. M. Scott Peck noted this narcissist characteristic in his book, People of the Lie.
Read A Christmas Message by Anna Valerious on Narcissists Suck.
Photo: Scrooge by Robert Doucette http://bobdoucette.com/ via Wikimedia Commons http://