Christmas and No Contact

Last year, I had finally started to feel better after the cut off initiated by my brother/mother and my fear was that they would break no contact with a holiday card or something along those lines.  They didn’t and I was relieved.  This year, there’s still some residual sadness over the rift.  I’m finding the holiday season rather difficult and I’m looking forward to December 26th!  For some reason, I don’t feel this way about New Year’s, just Christmas.  I’m still managing  to enjoy gatherings with friends and extended family, but there are a lot of reminders this time of year.  And despite my asking my great aunt not to tell me about my mother/brother, she still does.  Interestingly enough, I think my mother may have tried some of her behavior with bro & SIL as she’s not spending Christmas with them and it’s my niece’s first Christmas.

I don’t have any desire to reconcile with my mother.  I’ve forgiven her, but I don’t want to be exposed to any more of her emotional abuse.  I do wish things were different with my brother and SIL though.  I was thinking about this and one of the reasons this rift bothers me so much is my brother was the one living member of my family of origin I had a decent relationship with and now that’s gone.  But I know I can’t change the situation.  Still frustrating and sad though.

8 thoughts on “Christmas and No Contact

  1. Okay…I’m having a hard time with the holidays. The healthy/still in recovery side of me does not want to extend an offer to the NM & GC or BIL to come over for thanksgiving or anything holidayish! I was released from therapy & my therapist stated I know the boundaries I must make but behaving badly by doing what they have done to me is unacceptable. She thinks I need to rise above & extend the offer even though they will not accept the invite more than likely. However, I just want to enjoy the holidays with my husband & close friends & not be relieved for once that this time of year is over due to the stress of a sick family. I’ve been married for 10 years & have not created my own traditions due to my mother’s illness. Any thoughts on how to deal with this since I’m still new to this discovery? thanks!

  2. I think the key is what do you & your husband want to do? Good therapists generally try to avoid telling you what to do, but rather guide you in figuring out what it is you feel. If you told your therapist you wanted to take the high road/invite the family members, she was probably trying to support your thinking in that. And sadly, even in the therapy field, there are still some therapists who are “family at any cost.”

    There’s no right or wrong answer to these questions. Anna Valerious over at Narcissists Suck has some excellent posts about Ns & holidays. Dr. Tara over at The Shrink4Men’s blog site has some excellent posts about PDed folks and High Conflict Personality folks. The Kellevision site has some excellent entries about coping strategies over the holidays. I think I’m going to write up a holiday entry with more detail and include links. I’ll try to get to it by Sunday/Monday.

    If you do include them, I would avoid having it at your home. Anna Valerious gets it exactly right when she says that hosting the holidays with N guest is basically inviting them to kick you in your teeth. They will do that. Chances are they will act up unless they’re in hoover/play nice mode to suck you back in. If they do, you’ll want to use your new found empowerment and assertiveness to get yourselves out of an abusive situation. You can leave if they get out of hand at their home. But not if you’re hosting. Also, don’t park your car in a driveway or anywhere else where you can be boxed in by other cars.

    Some Ns behave when there are other people around. Who else will be at Thanksgiving at their house? Is a restaurant a possibility? How about another relative’s home?

    Another possibility is to split up the day. Do things get worse later in the day when some have been drinking excessively? Then plan to stop by early and have plans to go to a friend’s for dessert. Are people calmer after the stress of turkey prep? Then plan to have the main course elsewhere and stop by for dessert. It limits the time you’re exposed to stress to break it up this way. I personally haven’t done it, but I’ve seen on boards where other people have done it. And I’ve considered it at my previous therapist’s recommendation to avoid the difficult relatives I deal with.

    Or you can just go with friends or sane, functional relatives. Or on your own, either at your home or to a restaurant. It may be too late this year, but you can also consider going out of town and celebrating at a hotel or restaurant. Or with out of town friends/functional family.

    My mother moved out of town when I was 24. For quite awhile, I’d feel guilty about not spending holidays with her. A series of events over Christmas, Thanksgiving and Mother’s Day led me to realize I didn’t have to subject myself to that kind of pain. I’m still struggling with 2 PDed relatives I’m in LC with. Honestly, I’d be NC with them, but it would mean giving up spending holidays with people I enjoy spending time with and I’m not willing to do that. I’ll write more about it in a holiday post.

  3. PS, last year I came down with a stomach bug on Christmas Eve, which I basically spent barfing. Christmas Day, my stomach was still kind of queasy and I didn’t want to get anyone else sick, so I stayed home. I missed seeing a good friend of mine and her family (I visit them on Christmas Eve) and the more functional relatives I see along with the 2 PDed ones. I didn’t miss the PD ones.

    Even barfing was better than dealing with the stressful holidays my mother used to cause. Walking on eggshells and worrying about whether she was going to lose it made me so tense and anxious, I felt like I was going to throw up half the time anyway.

    1. Thanks for the response. For clarification, my therapist was not by any means telling me what to do. She has been supporting my decision all along that I am not to continue with the abuse or being a doormat. She was only agreeing with me that a part of healing is taking the high road & showing that no matter what I will not stoop to their sick level by behaving like them. She said in the long run, I will be able to look back & say I did take the high road by including them whether they choose to attend or not. However, I still struggle with this & probably always will. If they are not concerned about what I’m doing, then why should I be concerned with what they are doing. I think she was saying that I am not taking the high road if I go that route in my thinking but I’m still healing & will be for a very long time. I have not witnessed any bad behavior when I have other non family members in my home. However, my sister & BIL attended my husbands b-day party last year & a close friend of mine said my sister made an awful remark about the food we served. I was not in the room at the time or else I would have asked her to leave. My friend knew that it was my sister by the snarky comment she made even though she had never met or seen her before. If anything, my sister humiliated herself in front of someone that didn’t even know her & that person would choose not to get to know her based on the statement she made. In the end, my sister has no friends, where I have so many. She’s the looser in all of this but will never realize it. I”m the lucky one!

      1. Thanks for the clarification. The way I see it, there are a number of different high roads. You don’t have to invite them to take the high road. If you were sending them a disinvite telling them they suck and you don’t want them in your house, that would be the low road! 🙂

        Here’s the Narcissists Suck entry I was referring to. She doesn’t actively post on it any longer as she’s worked through her healing, but she left it up for info purposes:

        I think there’s a big difference between thinking what you thought about giving them a taste of their own medicine. Ultimately you need to decide how you want to spend your holiday. I find the holidays I spend without the PDs in my life to be a lot more peaceful and joyful. I didn’t even realize holidays could be fun and more or less tension free.

        If you’re not inviting them because you want a peaceful and joyful gathering, that’s much different than not inviting them because you want to “punish” them. You have every ritht to the former. If it happens to overlap with the latter, that’s not your fault. With a Narcissist/Flying Monkeys, no one is ever going to put you first, so you have to do it for yourself. It’s not selfish, it’s self-preservation.

      2. I do remember reading her blog about the holidays. It is a game of survival even if it’s not the holidays. My husband & I always look at each other when we know it’s time to leave. It’s more so when my GC sister acts out rudely or badly or crazy. I’ve even told my mom we leave her house early when this occurs & of course there was no acknowledgment whatsoever that the GC ever behaves badly. I understand the finding of a neutral zone if I do include them but what is sad is I have yet to have the holidays in my home & I will not continue like this. I have a lovely home that I want to share with the ones I love (i.e. friends, etc). If they come & act out, I will ask them to leave. It will be hard but I’ve overcome so much at this point I can over come this as well. Thanks for the response & I’ll look forward to your upcoming post on the holidays.

  4. PS a good friend of mine has a saying I find helpful in these situations, “Martyrs don’t get into heaven any quicker.” If it truly won’t bother you to have them decline your invite or show up and make snide comments on the food, then invite them, as long as your husband’s ok with it too. If you have children, you may want to protect them from your family.

    A word about spouses. Don’t underestimate how painful it is to watch someone you love being mistreated by family. A friend has a situation with favortism in her family. She used to vent to her husband, but he started getting angry at them for treating her so badly. Then she felt torn as far as loyalties. We started speaking about it a lot, which allows her to vent, but doesn’t hurt her husband. If you haven’t already, you may want to discuss this with him to see how he feels when you are treated that way.

    But if it’s going to bother you and upset you if they decline or show up and make snide comments, don’t invite them. Taking the high road means being civil & courteous. It doesn’t mean metaphorically lowering your head to foot level so you can get metaphorically kicked in the teeth.

    1. They pretty much treat my husband like me. Even though he does a lot for my mom, she still treats him like a second class citizen. It’s painful to witness. He’s much better at rolling it off than i am. He knows that he & my sister will never be friends. His dad is also a flaming narcissist! It’s amazing to watch their dynamic & how he can’t let things roll off like he does with my mom. I can roll off stuff with his dad better than my mom. There’s no emotional attachment there. Anyway, thanks for the post! I’m looking forward to more.

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