It’s that time of year again. While the rest of the world is excitedly preparing for the holiday season, you may be on pins and needles, wondering what kind of games and tricks the narcissist has up their sleeve.
Will they disappear, as they always do, two days before Christmas? Will they get you that engagement ring you’ve been fantasizing about, or give it to someone else whom they’ve been grooming behind your back?
Or worse, will they move out just as you and the kids are opening presents on Christmas Day?
As a narcissistic abuse recovery and new life coach, I have been privy to all sorts of horrible, life-shattering catastrophes because of narcissists, many of which occur during the holidays. Why does this happen? Because narcissists love to discard people at the worst possible times and they think nothing of using your tender feelings of holiday nostalgia against you to the hilt.
In fact, I had many dreadful holiday experiences myself, back when I was married to a narcissist, so I can definitely write from a place of understanding and sympathy. Therefore, to help you stay in a place of empowerment, I’ve put together a list of best practices and mindsets to follow in case the narcissist ghosts you during the holidays. Here’s what to do maintain your dignity and avoid self-loathing in the wake of holiday ghosting:
1 – Always have a Plan B in place
If you have a tradition of seeing the Nutcracker ballet, going on a holiday ski trip, or simply visiting friends and family on particular days, a best practice is to always have a back-up plan in case the narcissist bails out or implements the Silent Treatment. Invite a friend, family member or co-worker with you to take the narcissist’s place.
Perhaps you don’t have an annual holiday tradition, but the narcissist has been laying it on thick during a recent hoovering attempt and has gotten you all hyped up about the cozy holiday season the two of you will share this year.
Either way, don’t put all of your emotional eggs in one basket. It almost never fails that the narcissist will pull the rug out from under you, destroying the plans you’ve made (thereby destroying your holiday spirit) and leaving you in the fetal position on your living room floor.
Although you might still experience abandonment triggers due to the narcissist’s disappearing act, having a back-up plan will help you feel independent and empowered. However, under no circumstances should you share with the narcissist that you have plans should they decide to bail on you. This only gives them the information they need to wreck your plan B, as well.
2 – Return any gifts you may have gotten them
…and get your money back. Alternately, if the gifts would be useful for you, keep them for yourself. Don’t reward the narcissist for their unacceptable behavior by presenting them with Christmas presents when they finally decide to show up after having whooped it up with their new supply. Not only would it enhance their sense of entitlement, it would relay the message that it’s okay for them to ghost you during the holidays going forward.
3 – Make sure they can’t reach you by phone or social media
Although you may feel an overpowering urge to leave the lines of communication open for them despite their ghosting you, it’s best to ensure they can’t have their cake and eat it, too.
Specifically, narcissists often can’t contain themselves during holiday ghosting bouts and may check in to see if they’ve successfully ruined your holiday. If they’re able to get through to you, they can be very convincing by pretending to care about your well-being. However, once you’ve told them how you’re having a hard time and can’t get motivated to decorate the tree or finish your Christmas shopping, they’ll hang up with a smirk on their face because 1) they obliterated your Christmas and, 2) they know they’ll have an easy in once they decide the new supply needs a good ghosting of their own.
Remember, when the narcissist comes back, it’s not because they miss you or feel remorse for how they’ve treated you. When they return, it’s often due to an initial Silent Treatment they’re giving the new supply. To the narcissist, it’s never too early to plant the seeds of rejection and abandonment.
Block their number and remove them from your social media accounts. In fact, don’t post anything on your social media about their being gone. Post festive holiday recipes and funny memes. This way, if they open a fake account to spy on your mental state, it will appear that you couldn’t care less that they ghosted you, which will be a wonderful payback tactic.
4 – Don’t fall for their ‘horrible childhood’ or ‘family of origin wounding’ tales
The narcissist is keenly aware that you have a caring, compassionate heart. They know that you attempt to help people overcome their pain and try to make life easy for them.
This is precisely why, when they come back after a round of ghosting, they will often tell the woeful tale of how they are so scarred from childhood, they get a little wonky around the holidays. They can’t help it. It’s some deep, unconscious drive to bounce when the holiday season rolls around.
You’re not going to leave them alone and vulnerable, are you? *cue the furrowed brow and single tear*
Don’t be deceived. If your toxic partner pulls the same disappearing act every single year, it’s not due to wounding, it’s due to their being a manipulative jackass.
5 – Remember that the narcissist’s ghosting act has nothing to do with you as a person
It’s easy to imagine that there’s something about you that triggers the narcissist to pull their disappearing acts. This is precisely what the narcissist wants you to think. Because, if you believe it’s all about you, they can avoid taking responsibility for their abusive behaviors.
In fact, the narcissist’s entire pathological agenda is geared towards making you feel responsible for everything they’re doing wrong in the relationship, which almost always involves various stages of relationships with other people.
This reason alone is why they must disappear for days or weeks. The added bonus for them is that this also succeeds in strengthening any abandonment vulnerabilities you have.
You may believe your love can change them, but it simply won’t. The only way to win is not to play.
Be the better person, retain your dignity, and eventually, let him or her go peacefully.
Copyright 2016. Kim Saeed and Let Me Reach
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Kim Saeed is a recognized relationship and new life educator specializing in helping narcissistic abuse survivors to heal, rebuild, find purpose, and live joyfully after No Contact. In 2013, she founded Let Me Reach, a life transformation company that teaches people to flourish after toxic relationships.