16 comments on “Happy Holidays?

  1. I just have a moment, but I want to say something about this very sad post. I know how all that feels… you’ve read my comments and it is indeed very, very sad to be disconnected from family even if it is for the right reasons.

    Keep in mind, if you can, that your daughter’s experience is very different from yours. She only knows what she lives, and you can show her the magic of the season… the lights, music, stories… whatever you would like to enjoy. Her delight can be contagious to you. You are building your own holiday memories together. They will be precious and heart filling.

    The NOW is the best place to be, with the future running a close second. The past is a distant third place. Easier said than done, I know, but maybe just for these next couple days you can keep that focus. A small Christmas miracle to enjoy with your daughter?

    My wishes for you… peace and joy.

    Denise

    • Thanks Denise! Peace and joy to you, too!

      Yes, it is very sad to be disconnected from family at the holidays. It’s a choice I made. It’s a choice I had to make. For me. For my daughter. For our future.

      My daughter loves Christmas! One positive side of growing up in a divorced family is that her holidays go on for days, and are filled with many gifts. She is truly blessed in that regard. Yes, we are building our own memories together. Memories that can’t be taken away. Good memories. Loving memories. Family memories. Memories that I never had growing up.

      I do my best not to dwell on the past. It’s why I take a break from this blog from time to time and focus on the now and the future. That being said, my past has a lot to do with the person I am today, and understanding how my past has affected me helps me to make sure I don’t keep repeating those same mistakes.

      Thank you again for your well wishes and kind thoughts.

      Happy Holidays!

      Stephen

  2. Sending a Big hug to you…My dear friend..its like a members only club only the one of broken families can really understand you …I hear you loud and clear

    • Thanks Stralende! Big hugs to you, too!

      Yes, it’s definitely a members only club. Unless one has been exposed to such abuse AND let go of the denial that comes along with being subjected to abuse, it’s impossible to understand what it’s like. Many choose to remain in denial, because it’s more comfortable than facing the issues, even if remaining in that denial is incredibly painful. Breaking free of the cycle of abuse takes strength; a strength that few have.

      Happy Holidays and thanks for stopping by!

      Stephen

  3. Your experiences echo my life as well in so many ways they are a great source of relief to me! It is indeed a healing journey though and things can and do improve. The family stuff is the hardest, it is difficult to comprehend the mindset that would behave like that. But people are only doing what was done to them and one realisation I have had is that forgiveness when the time is right is the only path. I am actually the lucky one as I can break the family cycle. Hate and anger provide strength but past a certain point they become like drinking poison and hoping the other person will die. Peace.

    • Hi Les!

      I’m glad that you find some relief through my experiences. I’m always humbled when others are able to connect to my story, and if others find validation from my experiences, that’s certainly a positive outcome of my journey.

      Yes, things do improve. Unfortunately it is a slow process, with many bumps along the way. As long as I’m moving forward, I know I am doing the right thing. And yes, we are the lucky ones that have broken the cycle, even though it does not feel all that lucky sometimes. It’s like we are the ones that survived the shipwreck only to find ourselves on a deserted island.

      I completely agree that the family stuff is the hardest. When I think about how I was treated as a child and then think about treating my daughter in such a fashion, I become nauseous. You’re right, it’s nearly impossible to understand the mindset. I think it’s one of the things that tripped me up during my healing process. I absolutely couldn’t fathom behaving in such a fashion or having such ill motives, so I was readily able to excuse the behavior because I couldn’t understand it, which bring me to the forgiveness topic.

      In my opinion, giving someone forgiveness should be part of a process. It is my opinion that forgiveness shouldn’t be handed out completely free of any contrition by the offending party. In order to obtain forgiveness, the party to be forgiven should ask for forgiveness in a contrite manner and accept responsibility for their part in the issue. This is where the rub lies for me when forgiving a narcissist: They are incapable of asking for forgiveness, because that would mean that they could be wrong. Consider this analogy: If someone shot me in the face with a shotgun and then told me I deserved it and refused to apologize, should I forgive them? In my estimation, no. When I consider my family, you’re right, they are also the product of abuse. But unfortunately, they chose the path of continuing to perpetuate that abuse onto the next generation. We are all responsible for our own behaviors, no matter what the circumstances. Just because someone was abused does not give them license to behave inappropriately and abuse others. In the justice system, we don’t let pedophiles off the hook because they were sexually abused as children. I see no difference when it comes to dealing with my narcissistic family.

      That being said, please feel free to forgive your family. I can completely understand why you would want to forgive them. I would add this caveat: Forgive them for you. If you giving them forgiveness permits you to reach a new stage in your healing process, then it’s certainly a worthy step to take.

      Best wishes on your healing journey, Les, and thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      Stephen

      • I am very grateful for finding your blog Stephen, from what you have written the similarities between your life and mine are incredibly striking to me right down to the text messages you exchange with your brother which are very similar to the ones I have exchanged with mine. Frankly I’ve felt like I am losing my mind as everyone in my family seems to deny anything is wrong. I have seen therapists but unless you have lived it you don’t really know what it is like to have everything you have believed most of your adult life upended and your life completely unzipped at the age of 40.

        The last few years have been incredibly difficult. And as a male it is difficult to find anyone to discuss these things with. Actually I am still very isolated as I have few close friends and my career is a bit of a mess due to my social anxiety and other problems stemming from my family history. I probably sound like a sad fat loser in tracksuit pants in front of the TV but that is far from the case!

        Like yourself I am also a little analytically minded and I read a great deal about forgiveness before I think I understood what it really meant. You mention that you have a Christian background and without wanting to upset anyone I would like to say the christian concept of forgiving pushed at sunday school might be a slightly childish one. I don’t think I will ever completely forgive – it is a journey rather than a destination and I am often very angry. And I am also largely removed from my family and intend to keep things like that until frankly I might feel strong enough to integrate them a little more back into my life.

        But I would like to say that forgiving as I understand it does not mean forgetting or even condoning. It does not let the other person off the hook for what they have done. And frankly I don’t do it for the other person, I do it my yourself. At least for me forgiveness requires me to recognize the small part of me that is a bit like my mother and trying to accept what that must be like on a larger scale. My mother will never change because it would require her to face her shame which she does not have the courage to do. But it does permit me to leave a victim mindset behind and try to recognize a shared humanity, which unfortunately includes the shit stuff.

        I have learnt a great deal on my healing journey and I mention it as it has helped me a great deal, but in this business each persons journey is theirs and theirs alone!

        I look forward to keeping touch with your blogs.

      • Hi Les,

        I always find it so amazing how everyone’s stories are so similar to mine. I completely understand how confusing it is when family always denies anything is wrong. It’s what leads us to having our ability to trust our instincts eroded and eventually we began to think it’s all our issue, when nothing could be further from the truth. It’s crazy making behavior at it’s finest: When constantly confronted with situations that go against what we know is right, we soon start to question our own sanity. It’s actually what leads to our analytical behavior: We stop feeling our way through life and only think our way through life. We rationalize behavior that we should have no business even considering rationalizing. It’s the only way we can continue to function in abusive environments.

        I totally agree that, as a male, it’s incredibly difficult to find anyone to talk to that understands. It’s hard for women, but in my estimation, nearly impossible for men. I’m always happy when another man finds my blog and is able to relate and find some validation. You are right, most therapists do not understand, even if they have the book knowledge of what might be occurring. Book knowledge has little to do with being able to fully understand the ramifications of growing up in a narcissistic environment. One of the things my golden child brother once told me on the phone was “Your therapist didn’t do you any good” (https://thenarcissistsson.wordpress.com/2013/10/21/golden2300/). I couldn’t disagree more. I think my therapist did an excellent job. Before the first visit was over she was handing me books on dealing with a narcissistic family. To her, it was blatantly obvious what my issue was. Once confronted with the truth and having someone actually tell me that my reality was accurate, it was as if someone poked a pin into the monstrous balloon of my denial, and 40+ years of that denial came spilling out faster than I could possibly manage it. It was the toughest thing I’ve ever had to deal with emotionally, but was absolutely necessary.

        I agree, forgiving doesn’t condone behavior. In my estimation, forgiving is a step to be taken if one feels it is necessary for a particular individual’s healing journey. I do not, at this point, feel it is necessary for my journey. It think what is much more critical than forgiving is acceptance. Full acceptance. Not bargaining, not hoping for things to be different, but a full acceptance that the people that abused me have every right to live their life how they want and to behave how they want, and for me to expect them to behave differently is a complete waste of energy on my part. Accept that an apology will never come. Accept that the effects on my life have been tremendous. Accept that continuing to blame my abusers is only abusing myself.

        Leaving the victim mindset is absolutely critical. When in the victim mindset, we are not accepting any personal responsibility for what may have occurred, and we continue to blame our abusers. The internet is full of blogs from people that have a difficult time leaving the victim mindset. I personally know how hard it its to leave it behind. Yes, I was raised in an abusive environment, but to continue to relive the past for nearly 3 decades after leaving my FOO has more to do with me, and less to do with my upbringing. It was my choice to continue to play my family role after I left home. It was my choice to continue to choose abusive partners so that I could replay my childhood role with my mother in hopes of getting it “right” this time. It was my choice to not treat myself with the healthy love and acceptance that I so richly deserved. This is my part. I own it. I wrote a post (https://thenarcissistsson.wordpress.com/2014/06/27/stay-out-of-the-ring/) trying to explain the victim mindset and how it affects us, and why it’s critical to leave it behind. Les, if forgiving your abusers helps you to leave the victim mindset behind, then it’s an important part of your journey.

        It’s important that you let yourself feel that anger. It’s the anger that you should have felt for years, but squelched, because, if you’re like me, you were told it was ‘inappropriate’. Les, I’m here to say it was appropriate to be angry. Letting yourself feel that anger is the only way to move beyond it to full acceptance. I can remember a night where I was sitting on my couch and crying. I was incredibly angry and sad at the same time. I was yelling at my mother, as loud as I could. “How could you?!” “Why?!” “Can’t you see what you’ve done?!” It was a very cathartic experience. The truth is, she did what she thought was in my best interest, and that was to totally disregard me as a person and force her vision of me onto me. I was a tool to be manipulated to bring her glory, and that manipulation knew few bounds. I wasn’t her son. I wasn’t a child. My feelings on what I wanted for myself were irrelevant. Do I understand why she did what she did? Yes. Do I, in a small way, feel sorry for her? Yes. Do I condone what she did? Absolutely not. Have I accepted her for who she is? I have. Yes, there is a small part of me that is like her, but the much larger piece of me is nothing like her, and for that I’m truly thankful.

        Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Les, and best wishes on your healing journey!

        Stephen

      • Hi Les,

        I found an article today on the forgiveness topic. I think it’s quite poignant to our discussion.

        The below paragraph discusses my current state with my family. I’m still being mistreated and told that any abuse I received “wasn’t that bad” and I should “Just get over it”.

        “But if the offending family members are still mistreating you, acting as if the abuse never even happened, or are in some other way invalidating you if you even bring it up, how can you possibly forgive them? If they blame you for their past misdeeds, how on earth can you possibly forgive them? If they demand you leave your children in the care of an abuser and act as if you are unreasonable for refusing to do so, ditto. Forgiveness in these situations is impossible.”

        I agree, in my situation, forgiveness is impossible.

        Here is the entire article -> http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/matter-personality/201203/does-one-need-forgive-abusive-parents-heal

        Stephen

  4. I can relate to this unfortunately. Have worked very hard to work on boundaries and continually enforcing/disengaging as needed with certain members of my family and my ex. Difficult to do when I have extended family that I want to maintain ties with (and are the emotionally healthy ones that I’d like to remain connected to) and of course with my ex with whom I share my children. You’re right, this has required a good deal of personal work, self-forgetting (perhaps denial or compartmentalizing…and definite breaks from painful memories), faith and ongoing self-care. In my case, I’ve chosen to maintain ties with aging parents who have exhibited n behaviours over the years…I’ve seen them mellow with age and perhaps I’ve learned to enforce better boundaries too. It’s possible, it really is. Christmas is the hardest. Take care.

    • Hi Aveline!

      Sorry that you can relate. Yes, it’s a lot of hard work. I have spent the majority of my life having no idea how to create and enforce healthy boundaries, and now I’m confronted with having to create those necessary boundaries ‘on the fly’ while still learning about how to do it. It’s a journey where I have at times made mistakes, but I continue to soldier on, knowing that my skills continue to improve.

      I have essentially no family, which does make it somewhat easier since I am not trying to maintain relationships with some family members while minimizing contact with others. The only immediate family I have that is still alive is my golden child brother and my narcissist mother. I have lost all contact with any extended family. There are some in my extended family with whom I wish I had contact, but I know that they have been heavily polluted with my mother’s distorted version of reality, and trying to convince them that I am not the person she claims I am is a futile endeavor.

      I do sometimes think about how I might reengage family and how I might treat them; how I would establish boundaries with them to protect myself. Then it becomes obvious to me that there’s little point in reengaging them. If I reestablish contact with them, in their mind, they win. I’ve again taken a full broadside from them and yet I continue to have a relationship with them. They have successfully yanked on that obligation string hard enough to bring me back into compliance, even if I don’t engage them the same way that I always have. Since N’s don’t know what a healthy relationship is, any relationship will do, no matter how dysfunctional. One of the biggest reasons not to reengage with them is my daughter. With her, I have the opportunity to break the cycle of abuse. Allowing her to be subjected to my family may well serve as a detriment to my goal of breaking the abusive cycle in my family.

      I agree, holidays are the hardest when dealing with the ramifications of a narcissistic family.

      Take care, Aveline, and best wishes on your healing journey.

      Stephen

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