Why do we never have a good Christmas together?

10 Dec 2017

An abuser can always turn a Peak Experience into a Trough Experience

One of the (many) things that amazed me about ‘my’ wasband was his enormous capacity for displeasure.  That man really could diss  any pleasure that came his way. He had a talent for finding fault in situations that should have been idyllic.

He could turn a potential Peak Experience into a Trough Experience. Usually within minutes.

I still remember one such Trough Experience.  My daughter was a toddler.  It was a cold, crisp winter’s day.  We were at a children’s zoo.  My pink-cheeked  daughter was squealing with delight at the goats and the ostriches, as well as the other small children (who, like her, were merely visiting). It was one of those occasions when there was enormous pleasure to be had just by watching her delight.

We should have been able to share the joy as parents.

For the Narcissist, a joy shared is a joy decimated

Silly, silly me.  I had not realized that, for the wasband, a joy shared was a joy decimated.   But how was I to realize that he was too much of a Narcissist ever to experience pure joy? Still less, the joy of standing back and delighting in someone else’s joy.

I simply could not get my head around that idea.

Each year, our Christmas fizzled out in a cloud of his diss-pleasure.  When our daughter was small, he refined his act, somewhat.  He would turn his Mr Nice Guy face on her – and do his damnedest to take credit for all the Christmas wonder I had tried to create for her.  Then, he would turn his Mr Nasty face to me.

After a couple of hours of this, he would announce that he was tired. (Maybe he truly was. Maybe all that split second shifting from Mr Nice Guy to Mr Nasty wore him out.  Either that, or just making those brief Mr Nice Guy appearances depleted him horribly.  Who knows?  Who cares?)  Either way, he then took himself off to bed for several hours, meaning that my excited daughter and I had to tiptoe around the house for fear of disturbing him.

We could never have a good Christmas together.  Not even a half-way good Christmas.

Who could be so weird as to suck all the joy out of a special occasion?

Some years in, I realized that this had to be a pattern.  However, I couldn’t make sense of it.  Who could possibly be SO weird as to deliberately suck all the joy out of a special occasion?

At the time, I thought that was a rhetorical question.  Surely nobody could be that weird as to be prefer to make themselves and other people miserable, when they could enjoy good times, making beautiful family memories.

Only much later did I realize that I had asked myself a real and important question that deserved a real and important answer. Who could possibly be so weird as to deliberately suck all the joy out of a special occasion?

Well, duh!!  A Narcissist or emotional abuser. Someone who has a BIG problem with joy and happiness.  Someone who does not like other people to feel happy.  Someone who actually feels threatened by other people’s happiness and experiences an intense need to sabotage it.  That kind of weird person.

Who in their right mind…

Who in their right mind would want to be married to that kind of person?

Nobody, I would suggest.  Mistaking my good question for an empty, rhetorical question actually revealed a couple of fundamental things.

1) I was not in my right mind.  The wasband put a lot of time and effort into Crazy-Making with the precise goal of ensuring that I could NOT be in right mind.

2) I was unable to confront the truth. The wasband and I could never have a good Christmas together. That was impossible since  my abusive partner, like all abusive partner, had set the relationship up in such a way that it would never generate much joy.

Why we could never have a good Christmas together

The wasband HATED the holidays and all special occasions – except his birthday.  He loved his birthday for one obvious reason.  It was all about him.  That worked for him.

I can’t remember him ever being vile on his birthday. On the other hand, I can remember him being consistently vile on,

  • My birthday
  • Our anniversary
  • Our daughter’s birthday
  • Valentine’s Day
  • Mother’s Day
  • Family holidays
  • Family occasions
  • Christmas and New Year
  • Important social occasions

If the occasion wasn’t all about him, he could be relied on to act up. He had to make himself the centre of attention.  He had two ways of doing that.  The first was to punish me. The second, less common, way was to behave in such an outlandish way as to grind someone else’s ego into the dust, thereby ensuring that he, once again, became the focus of all attention.  Not uncommonly, that someone else had been  a good friend. Until that point…

Why trying harder will never work

I always thought that if I could just try harder at Christmas and be more understanding of how tired he was, we could finally have a great time together.  Of course, that never happened.  If anything, my efforts to try to bypass his ill-temper, simply magnified the offence I gave – “How dare she try to baby me into not speaking my emotional truth?”

I never found a solution that worked for both of us.  The fact is, he got his good feelings by spreading bad feelings all around.  I’m guessing that he saw my attempts to pre-empt his spreading of bad feelings as an infringement of his rights.  That is how emotionally weird people, like emotional abusers and Narcissists, function.

So, what can you do in such a scenario?

You want to register the toxicity of the situation and take yourself out of it.

Nobody would willingly live in a place where there is asbestos. The behaviour of a Narcissist or emotional abuser is tantamount to psychological asbestos.   Spending time around that can only be seriously damaging to your mental and emotional health. You can never have a good Christmas together – or any other special occasion – when your significant other is a Narcissist or abuser.

The lesson of a spoiled Christmas

The lesson of a spoiled Christmas with a Narcissist or emotional abuser is simple. They will never tolerate NOT being center stage in your life. They will never step back sufficiently for you to enjoy  the fruits of your efforts, in any field.

Sure, you can stay with a Narcissist or emotional abuser, but that means making a choice to try to salvage a few shreds of happiness from the havoc they wreak.  Why would you do it?

There is a big, wide world outside the claustrophobic cell of an emotionally abusive relationship.  In that big, wide world you  can enjoy as much happiness as you choose. You just have to walk away from both the Crazy-Maker and the Crazy-Making belief that you could ever be happy together.  A Narcissist or emotionally abusive partner really has no place in your life either at Christmas or at all. 

That won’t happen. Your painful past with him does not have to be your future.

This Christmas give yourself the gift of clarity.


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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