It’s easy to think ‘things will be different this year’ or maybe even if you’re heading towards waking up to your situation, ‘this Christmas is his (or her) last chance.’
Be aware that at this time of year, many of us will be more vulnerable and more insecure than usual. Let’s face it, all the Christmas movies are based around two people resisting then finding love for each other or family Christmases with Mum, Dad and however many children. The pressure to have a ‘happy family Christmas’ is huge, only acceptable to shun if you’re about to have a romantic love fest with your ‘better half’ (f**k I hate that term)! Emotions are heightened but beware, it’s easy for real issues that need to be addressed to be blamed on the pressure of the holidays.
If you’re in a relationship with a narcissist or recovering from one, you can multiply the intense feelings by at least ten. The fear or dread of their mood swings, insensitive comments at best or abusive ones at worse can hang over you like an inescapable dark cloud. Using your kids against you, competing to give them the best time or opting out as much as they can. The list is endless and generally adds to all your Christmas stress by about 1000%.
If you’re still in the love bombing stage of your Narc relationship (so obviously you’re unlikely to even realise this is where it’s heading), I could probably quite accurately guess at least some of the presents you’re going to receive — the big gifts and the meaningful gestures, the secret gifts he’s never given anyone before. The ‘I’ve never felt like this until I met you’ BS they’ll use to draw you in even more deeply than you already are. The cards, the poems, the ‘thanks for sticking by me despite the difficult circumstances/my past,’ the ‘here’s to many more now I’ve found my soulmate’ manipulative lies.
Love bombing also goes in cycles to ensure you stay committed and crazy for them and their love and attention. Christmas is a perfect time for them to step this up, but also to break your heart. It might not be for the first time, but my hope for you is that it becomes the last.
Protection & Recovery
The key to your recovery from a Narcissistic relationship is realising that they will never change, that they are master manipulators who are highly skilled at doing the “Poor Me, I’ve just had such bad luck with my batshit crazy exes…bla bla bla.” Or they’ll just laugh things off so that any insecurities you may feel can be dismissed. They may blame their behaviour on bad memories of the holidays or on missing a loved one (despite being anything but loving towards them on special occasions they HAVE been with them). They will do contradictory things to gaslight you and amp up your confusion, forcing you to justifying them in your head as being kind and loving but hurt and damaged, rather than just plain nasty and narcissistic. Obviously if we KNEW they were nasty, rather than only questioning some aspects of their behaviour, we wouldn’t find reasons to make excuses for them and to stay stuck in a destructive relationship with them.
Depending on weather you’re in the love bombing stage or the abuse is overt or covert, you are in the prime position to have you world rocked over Christmas, either in a seemingly positive way (via love bombing), negatively (via an overtly abusive narc) or a combination of the two (as is typical for a gaslighting covert narc who dips in and out of love-bombing to ensure the cycle of abuse continues and to strengthen your trauma bond with them).
I implore you to protect yourself from getting your hopes up this Christmas. It will help to remind yourself of the abuse you’ve sustained over the year, the questions you’ve had to ask your partner or yourself, doubts from any untruths or even minor trust issues when things didn’t add up. These will have probably been put back on you as being insecure, needy (which they will encourage as they know it’s a sure fire way to hook you in), or just disregarded as you being paranoid or overly sensitive.
Review what you have survived
After taking steps to try to protect yourself this Christmas, I then want you to look at what you’ve already survived:
What has been thrown at you to try to bring you down but left you still standing?
- Even if only just, you ARE still standing.
How many times have you continued to be an amazing mother, daughter, sister? A loyal friend, an effective employee?
- There may be times that you think you haven’t been, but there absolutely WILL be times that you have, especially when you soldiered on regardless of the shit being thrown at you, even if at the time you felt like you had no choice but to keep going.
What can you take from your experiences no matter how negative they may be, to prove to yourself how resilient you are?
- If you’re in or have been in a relationship with a narc, you have rivers of resilience greater than you know.
- You have used your power to overcome everything so far, or at least survive it if you are still in the process of healing. You still have those reserves of power, those rivers of resilience, you just need to believe it.
How have you handled other people’s opinions? Supportive friends and family, professionals as well as good intentioned but perhaps not so effective support, or contact and interference from your Narc’s family and/or friends, even his new ‘supply’ (aka new partner):
- What can you do to lock in the positive moments and love you’ve received from your cheerleaders and support network?
- What can you do to protect yourself from this point on, from those who have made things worse, weather intentionally or unintentionally?
- What can you do to see the gift in their new supply distracting your Narc for long enough for you to realise things weren’t right, to realise that you deserved better so that you got out of the relationship.
- What can you do to make peace with the fact their relationship started off and has continued full of lies and that there’s nothing you can do about it because even if you told them, it would be denied by the Narc and the new supply would believe them and not you anyway.
- Are you wasting precious energy worrying and wanting to help protect or ‘save’ someone who can’t yet be helped and who needs to go on their own journey and live their own experience, even if that means a present of lies and a future of more and worse?
How have you celebrated your power if you drew a line in the sand and said enough is enough, I’m not going back this time?
- Especially if it was you that left, celebrate that and know that you have and will continue to inspire others to do the same.
- If it wasn’t you that left, how can you thank the powers that be that helped this to happen and celebrate the fact you dodged a bullet?
- How can you realise and celebrate that being on your own is wayyyyy better than being in a relationship that is miserable at best, abusive and damaging at worst?
Drawing the line
When I finally left my three (yes THREE, wtf 🤦🏻♀️🤦🏻♀️🤦🏻♀️) abusive relationships, even though in my oldest and most recent ones I was still being told they couldn’t live without me, still promising me they’d change, that they couldn’t imagine a future without me (despite their contradictory behaviour, even when one of them had already found a new supply but still couldn’t give me up), it gave me a sense of pride in myself and helped so much on my recovery journey because I was just not prepared to continue to put myself through his constant covert and sometimes overt abuse, obsessive jealousy and false accusations anymore. I made a stand for myself and for my children too by saying enough is enough, we are done and I’m not going to be sucked in yet again.
I urge you to draw that same line. I know you feel terrified about what life will be like on your own, maybe even how you’ll survive emotionally and/or financially. I was lucky enough to have my own house and financial future, my kids, my dogs and so many truly amazing friends, so I know I am SO much luckier than so many others, but I was still scared at giving up the broken dreams. When I left my husband I had to work like crazy on my ‘Money Mindset’ so I didn’t allow myself to walk away with little to nothing just for an easy and peaceful resolution. It’s one of the reasons why I help women with their money mindset now.
I know it can be as scary as hell, but it can also be one of or the most liberating things you can do for yourself, and your children if you have them. It can give you the biggest sense of freedom imaginable. I guess it’s a bit like jumping out of an aeroplane; until the parachute releases you’re not entirely sure if you’ll survive what can feel like the most terrifying decision of your life. But the parachute does release and it not only saves your life but gives you a taste of freedom that can’t be beaten.
So many women don’t take that leap and it breaks my heart. But I have to keep the faith that they are just not ready yet but that one day, with the right support, they will be.
I see you, I hear you
To anyone going through this, I see you and I hear you. I see you and I hear you through your denial, through your pain, your brave face, your social media posts weather they be honest and vulnerable or carefully curated. I see that masked look of sadness, doubt or brokenness in your eyes. I see you through your silence and hiding, through your suffering.
I know you feel as though no one understands, no one can be hurting as much as you are or have. There are so many of us who have suffered like you have, although everyone’s experience and suffering is unique.
These are the people who will help to catch you when you fall. I am 100% here for you and will hold your hand when you take that leap so you don’t have to take it alone.
Sending you love, strength and healing at this time of year and always.