A Narcissist Will Ruin Your Holiday

Colleen Sheehy Orme

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Woman by Christmas treePhoto by Julia Volk from Pexels

I ended up in tears nearly every holiday. It's difficult not to when you are married to a diagnosed narcissist. I did everything I could to minimize the narcissistic unpredictability and chaos. But even when I planned ahead, got every single thing cooked, cleaned, and wrapped, it was impossible to avoid.

My husband figured out a way to ruin the joy.

It could be refusing me money to buy our children any Christmas gifts.

And when I figured out part-time work to do so, sitting smugly as they opened them and thanked their father. It could be ignoring our kid's pleas that at least one year we have lights in our yard. My husband didn't care about making them happy.

Because his greater need was to prove me wrong.

It could be waking up to no presents under the tree for me, even if it made our kids sad to see me get nothing. Or when I was bold enough to ask for something specific, being given something else instead. It could be going to bed and leaving me to retrieve enormously heavy things like foosball tables from our attic which almost took me out.

It could be refusing to pick up my aging uncle from his assisted living home while I am sick in bed needing an inhaler. He didn't care. Again, he was intent on being in control and proving me wrong.

I was making too big a fuss. I was making the season too busy. I was racing around. And I was because he was doing nothing. I was responsible for it all. The only thing he was agreeable about was buying a tree.

There are too many stories to tell.

And there were many exhausting negotiations.

A narcissist doesn't do anything they don't want to do.

I was forced to barter to get an outcome he disagreed with. When his family spent three holidays chipping in hundreds of dollars to buy their parent's large gifts, my husband said no. He was unyielding and would not reconsider. I promised if he would give his sister's money he wouldn't have to buy me any presents those years. He then relented.

Years later, he would withhold gifts or do next to nothing like a sport.

A narcissist who was no longer happy but angry.

Holidays transitioned from control to punishment. Because I told him I was lonely being married to him and unhappy. My husband had yet to be diagnosed with Narcissistic personality disorder. Therefore, I recognized his rigid disposition, coldness, and cruelty but they weren't constant. I didn't fully comprehend who I was dealing with.

Or why he habitually ruined birthdays and holidays.

I was, however, beginning to see a pattern.

As a covert narcissist, he was seemingly laid-back. Their passive-aggressive nature masks the true degree of their controlling personality. And day in and day out, our life wasn't unpleasant or chaotic. Yet I had learned to overcompensate. I would do as I did on the holidays, go out of my way or amend my own behavior and wants and needs to avoid conflict with him.

But the narcissist would come out to play multiple times a year.

This cycle is what helped me recognize the pattern. As long as I stayed out of his way things were fine. But if I needed something or decided something was important to me, all hell would break loose.

My husband used to say, "You're a big girl and I'm a big boy. I don't ask anything of you and you don't ask anything of me." But he was asking of me. He asked me to quit my job and work with him to grow the business, he paid the bills late so I took them over, etc. I can give many examples of how I ultimately came to take on responsibilities in his life and ours.

Narcissistic individuals leave a trail of tears where joy should fall. It's a troubling personality disorder. They consistently escalate around a season that should be consumed with happiness. Those who have experienced it ask themselves why?

The answer isn't complicated.

It's found in the mental health condition itself.

A true narcissist lacks empathy. They don't feel the pain of others. They live in an isolated reality. Their own hemisphere. The missing empathy prevents them from seeing outside their world and into the world of others. Hence, they don't care. A person with Narcissistic personality disorder manipulates to get what they want and to maintain control. Their inflated self-importance makes them believe they know how things should be done.

And they will punish anyone who goes against them.

The holidays involve a lot of variables. It's family, friends, and obligations the narcissist may not want to keep, expenses they may not want to incur, traditions they may disagree with. And too many commitments and responsibilities typically for one spouse to handle.

The narcissist does not do well with others telling them what to do.

The narcissist demands control and they have no interest in meeting anyone's needs.

Their mission is to prove you wrong.

Difficult to fathom, since I left little for him to do. I even took care of gifts and whatever responsibilities we had to his own family.

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Colleen Sheehy Orme is a National Relationship Columnist, freelance journalist, and former business columnist. She writes about love, relationships, and self-restoration.

Reston, VA
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