Thanksgiving and Christmas are tough holiday seasons to endure for many Americans, even more so at times than they are for many Europeans. American people are often forced by family to participate in weird social customs like Thanksgiving dinner. Does it seem weird to kick off the celebration of the Christmas holidays by celebrating the narcissism of our elders? People who, for the most part, intentionally wiped out and race shamed the cultural heritage of the land’s original peoples? As if that deranged ritual is not traumatizing enough for sensitive people who know their history but we also — Gasp — have to sit around pretending to be thankful for time spent with obnoxious and toxic family members.
Oh yes, there is nothing quite like being forced to compulsively cook and clean in order to spend the entire day wishing it was over — and that’s before even getting a taste of Great Aunt Edna’s dried out turkey. One savvy Narcissistic Abuse Recovery blogger named Anna had an outstanding idea. Instead of following tradition and slaving over a hot stove for days preparing gourmet and comfort food for all our collectively beast-like relatives, consider the possibility of choosing to spend time alone without shame or with a group of your favorite people.
Here’s what one of her readers had to say about the idea of skipping Thanksgiving with toxic family members:
kroseloree said… This is PERFECT! Thank you… ! This will be the first year that I am not inviting my Nmom or Dad. I am keeping it simple, relaxed, and enjoyable. I’m not even making all HER ‘expected’ dishes and favorites. Good Lord! I never realized how much I have done over the years….with no ‘contributions’…no help with the cooking or cleaning up for the Thanksgiving Dinner. What? 35 years of it. I’m grateful and thankful….even if it is little ‘strange’ this year….it won’t be ‘strained’. No hyper-attentiveness….no sniping between my parents…no ‘Oh…while you’re up (I just sat down), would you get me a little glass of milk?’ I get to burn whatever I want if I want to…I get to prepare whatever I want to…I get to set the time of the dinner…Lordy….It’s sounding better all the time!
If you have already committed yourself to having to sit through a family function with egocentric people, spend the day playing Jane Goodall and doing diagnostic research. Take notes about your observations — and if you REALLY want to annoy them, have a friend available to text supportive memes and things to make you laugh to make the holiday go by quicker and easier.
Keep your positive focus on the good and when Narcissistic mom, adult child, snarky and verbally abusive teen, Grandma, Narcissistic Dad, an Enabling Henchman of a Grandfather, or whoever starts to pitch a fit or show that no matter how hard you try to please them they refuse to appreciate it? Walk, don’t run, to the nearest exit.
If you HAVE to run, understand that it will give them a sense of satisfaction to have chased you off into another room or out the door. When they see you upset, hurt, crushed, broken, emotionally and psychologically destroyed, they never feel remorse. All people who come from a narcissistic upbringing feel is they are winning — and as such, take great pride while smear campaigning and boasting of their stomach-churning accomplishments.
To that end, be proactive. If you can, seriously… avoid social gatherings for holidays with toxic family members. Book a cruise. Go off the grid. Avoid them ever having the chance to spot one of your trigger issues on their radar. If you don’t, the only person you truly have to blame is yourself for showing them you’re vulnerable.
There is no reason whatsoever to tolerate abuse. You are not over-reacting to report to the family or anyone who will listen that you are the victim of narcissistic abuse or to overlook one person actively abusing and targeting another. Don’t let them gaslight you. Conversely, why share your weaknesses with them by spending a single moment of time explaining in detail how or why something they said, did or did not do hurt you.
If they are true Narcissists or any other form of Cluster B personality like a Sociopath or person with Borderline Personality Disorder, they will never perceive your remarks to be valid, valuable, or shared with the intent to improve the quality of their life by allowing them the opportunity to understand you or care about what they miss by acting so incredibly selfish, needlessly competitive, or insensitive to other people.