If there is one thing we all know, it is that holidays with a Covert Narcissist (CN) partner are pretty miserable. No matter what the holiday is, they have to make it about them, and try to spoil the day for us. For me the worst days were the ones that were only about me-my birthday and Mother’s Day. The first Mother’s Day I was married to my CN, he bought me a card, didn’t write in it, and I found it blank on the floor beside the couch a few days later. Instead of cooking me dinner and helping with the kids he took a nap on the couch and was mopey all day. He claimed that he was so depressed on that day because he was so sad that his ex was such an awful mother. When I reminded him that she was not there and I was, and that he should be celebrating what a wonderful choice he had made in a step-mother for his kids, he shrugged it off and continued to mope. Every Mother’s Day was awful with him.
Birthdays were awful too. One year he was out mowing the lawn on my birthday and decided to take apart an old mower that had not been working (we had one that was working) and decided it needed to be fixed RIGHT THEN. He was outside away from all of us for hours. He got angry that it wasn’t fixed right and used that as his excuse to be angry all day. When I came out, very cheery, and told him it was time to come in and get cleaned up if he wanted to come to dinner with my kids and I to celebrate my birthday, he got angry and yelled at me claiming he didn’t know we were going out to eat THAT night and how I always get my way, and how was he to know he needed to be ready?! Even though we had already discussed these plans multiple times. So I asked if he wanted to come or not and he said yes. He was grumpy getting ready, made us late and basically made the whole evening miserable. I wish I had just told him to stay home.
As the years went on, for gifts I’d constantly receive “grocery store gifts.” Cheap candy I didn’t even like, maybe a gift card from the checkout aisle, or some other item from the store. Nothing that was thought about ahead of time.
CNs will take the things that mean the most to you, and use them to hurt you. Here’s one way this played out for me on holidays: I love writing cards and sending mail to people I love. I wrote him at least weekly as we dated, like an actual letter with a stamp, in addition to texts and calls. Cards are a part of our dating story. I have quite a collection of cards and enjoy picking out just the perfect thing to send to someone. My ex had a habit of buying cards for me for holidays, leaving them out where I’d find them, but never actually writing in them or giving them to me. If I asked about them, he always said he’d write in them later, but never did. It hurt quite a lot. He made me feel as though my desire for getting a note of love and reassurance from him every few months was too needy of me, and how could I be so demanding. It would have been better for him to not buy the card in the first place, but to buy them and not give them, was a pretty deep cut to me. Eventually, a day or two after the holiday, as I’d find them, I just threw them away. Are there things like this in your relationship? Maybe it isn’t cards, but it’s something else? What sacred things does your partner use to hurt you?
Bigger holidays that involved more people were also in jeopardy of being sabotaged. He’d always pick some fight right before I’d fill the Christmas Stockings for all of our kids. He’d always accuse me of not treating his kids fairly when it came to gifts. This is another thing that was particularly damaging to me. I’m a very thoughtful gift giver. I’m good at paying attention to little things someone would like and take pride in getting just the “right stuff” for each person’s stockings, and gifts. I knew in my heart that I was being fair. But because he would bring it up right before Christmas, my mind would be spinning and wondering all day as I watched everyone open their gifts, wondering if I really had been unfair. It took so much of my mental energy that I wasn’t fully present on Christmas and started to dread every holiday because whatever I did was never enough and never “fair.” Can you see that in your relationship? How does that manifest for you?
Knowing what I know now about how CNs sabotage every holiday, now that I’m free, I make a point to be very purposeful about holidays and making them exactly as I want them. My first Christmas single my kids were going to be with their dad, so I got to decide what I wanted to do for ME. I was invited to both family and friend’s houses but ultimately I decided to stay home alone. There was some worry about winter travel, but really it felt sacred to me to sit in my aloneness on Christmas and just FEEL. I’ll admit I was a bit worried the day would come and I’d spend the whole day crying. I was willing to take that risk. I evaluated what was really important to me for Christmas. What were my favorite parts that were actually important to me? Two things came to mind: new pajamas, and having my stocking filled. First off I ordered myself new fun pajamas. Check. That was easy. Then it took me a few days of pondering on my stocking. I had been filling my own stocking for years at this point, both when I was a single mom the first time, and throughout my marriage to my CN. Honestly, it sucks filling your own stocking. So I decided to be brave and reach out to my sister, who I knew was great at filling stockings, and also knew she was often disappointed that her husband doesn’t do a very thoughtful job filling hers. So I asked her if she’d like to trade stockings that year. I’d buy her things and mail them to her and her husband could put the items in her stocking. She mailed my items to me and my daughter hid them in a cabinet in the house that I didn’t open until Christmas morning. I stayed up late Christmas Eve working on a puzzle and binging a show on Netflix. It was awesome! I let myself sleep in on Christmas morning, made myself a nice breakfast, and then opened the sacred cupboard. Ladies, I LOVED my stocking. My sister knows me so well and I could feel her love in every single item I took out. I discovered my new favorite chapstick, got some yummy treats and enjoyed so many carefully curated items that I knew she had picked out while she thought about ME. These items were not thrown together last minute at the grocery store. They had been picked out over time with ME in mind. The rest of the day was lovely. I had a few special gifts from friends and parents to open that were perfect. I cooked myself exactly the food I wanted at exactly the times I was hungry. I didn’t have to cater to anyone else’s wishes. It was MY day and it was perfect for ME. It was a sacred day. Honestly, it is one of, if not the, favorite Christmas ever!!
I’m so glad I took the time to think about what I really wanted for that day and then reached out and asked for help for the parts I couldn’t do alone. I didn’t cry at all; I was so full of joy all day long! Of course I missed my kids and I was so happy when they came home and we got to celebrate Christmas together! And I don’t wish to be alone every Christmas. But what I want to tell you my darlings is, you can CHOOSE. You can absolutely ask for the things YOU need and want. You can get help from friends or family to recreate holidays exactly the way you want them to be. Start new traditions, throw out old ones that no longer serve you. Start today and let go of the negativity your CN added to every holiday. There is freedom and there is healing. What things have you done to take back holidays and make new memories? I’d love it if you send me a message or comment on facebook. There is so much we can learn from each other!
You hold the power! There are circumstances we can’t control, like other people’s choices. Fact. The powerful part is we get to choose what we THINK about those circumstances. From our thoughts come our feelings, which then create our actions, and they make up our bigger outcomes. We get to create the lives we want by changing our thoughts. Changing my own thoughts about holidays has been so powerful! It has created room for me to allow others to celebrate. I used to hate the spotlight because married to a CN, it always ended badly. But now I truly love myself, and love being celebrated. There are great celebrations in your future if you’ll do the work to change the way you think about things.
I’d love to help you do this. I’ve made reclaiming holidays one of my specialties. In fact during the retreats I host we have a birthday party where it is YOUR birthday. We don’t just talk about reclaiming holidays, we DO IT during the retreat. If you are ready to reclaim your life and reclaim holidays after life with a CN, I hope you’ll consider one of my retreats. Click HERE to learn more about retreats and schedule a FREE 30 minute call to talk about if a retreat or life coaching is right for you. NOW is your time to heal. Don’t put it off any longer. Unleash your power to create the life you want. I look forward to talking to you soon. Kendra
As always, these are my thoughts and my thoughts alone. My stories, nor the life coaching I do, ever replace a trained and licensed therapist and I recommend everyone find a therapist they love. You can start your search at https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists