One of the painful trademarks of the narcissistic family is constant criticism and judgment. In their presence, one can feel insecure, put down, and that you're not valued as a person. When around narcissists, if you really listen to their ramblings, you will hear them judging others ad nauseam and, in turn, trying to make themselves look bigger, better, and more powerful.
This behavior is caused by the narcissists’ own insecurities and fragile ego. But it is tiring, unpleasant, and particularly difficult if it is directed at you. Many of my clients, past and current, experience this dread when the holidays emerge. With holiday music as the backdrop, the fears still arise. “Will I have the strength this year to stand up to the criticism, set boundaries, and take good care of myself?” “Can I possibly endure the put-downs, jealousy, or just plain mean behavior?”
The worry comes back. “Will I be good enough for them? Will my house be clean enough, will they criticize my weight or how I look, will I cook well enough, and will I be criticized as a parent?” “Will my values and beliefs be questioned again if I don’t fit the conscripted mold of the narcissistic family?” Many decide to just forego it and make different arrangements. It is hard to be beaten down and not valued by the very people who should love and value you. Sometimes the holidays are a quick trigger for post-traumatic stress reactions from a difficult childhood. It can become too much to bear.
When the holidays roll in, I hear over and over from adult children of narcissistic parents, “I just want to run away, skip the holidays, and go hide.” While holidays are supposed to be happy and joyful and a time to be with loved ones, this is sad. Sad to see and sad to experience. But it can be a reality for those raised in narcissistic families.
So, what to do? Here are eight basic tips for holiday survival for adult children of narcissistic families.
If you find yourself hating the holidays, remember that you are in charge of you. You can choose the path that is best for you and find your own peace and joy in this season. You deserve that. Give love to yourself and to those who do love you and care about you. Keep the focus on this. Soak in all the things you do love about the holidays and practice being grateful. Find your best path.
Warm and loving thoughts to all for a healthy and happy season!
If you would like to share your best path, please leave a comment below. It could help another reader!