It can be Christmas every day – and more

18 Dec 2018

 It is, of course, that time of year again when all of us are meant to submit ourselves to The Great Christmas Exam. How have we done on the Great Christmas Syllabus? Can we boast belonging to a happy family of origin?  Are we successfully coupled up? Do we have the requisite Great Relationship with Our Children? Does our life look perfect on paper? Will we manage to create The Perfect Christmas for our loved ones? Will we come through it all looking glamorous, feeling relaxed and happy, and not needing hospitalisation for extreme exhaustion at the end of it?

Talk about setting the bar high!!

Can anyone really manage all of that? I know for a fact that I cannot.  In fact, I have long since given up trying.

Christmas in the Abusive Kingdom

Back in the day when I was married to the wasband, by the end of Christmas I was always on the verge of collapse having,

  • Tried to offer my daughter the perfect Christmas
  • Bent over backwards to conceal the wasband’s Vintage Xmas Temper Tantrum
  • Produced an amazing meal and reduced the kitchen to an unholy mess
  • Dismissed my own disappointment at the wasband’s habitual Xmas rejections
  • Lied to all and sundry about the “joys’ of our family Christmas
  • Tried to out-Martha the one and only Martha Stewart (not that being Martha Stewart either kept her marriage intact or saved her a few major life crises).

(Actually, the main difference between Christmas and every other day of the year was that I was just performing my usual frenetic Dance of Denial on steroids.)

Peace and goodwill at Christmas

These days my lovely partner and I  enjoy a very different kind of Christmas.  The first Christmas that we spent together as a couple was, to say the least, challenging.  I had been quite unwell for a month while my partner was facing major health issues and was in and out of hospital.  I confronted alienation from my beloved daughter – who had decided that her father, absent from her life for 7 years – by her choice – was suddenly The Good Parent.  I also faced significant financial concerns.

As far as major life crises go, we faced a few that year – and have done since. Our Christmas together was a supremely quiet time – at least, when my partner was not in hospital. We exchanged some gifts, a lot of love and good wishes. And that was about that.

We were supremely grateful to be together and share all the good things that we had – in spite of all the bad stuff going on.

That is how it has remained.

This year, we will definitely manage Christmas cards and a nice dinner.  We will, doubtless, spend more time just relaxing than on another day.  But beyond that nothing much out of the ordinary. That works for us.

The idiotic wasband, like all Narcissistic abusers, had a talent for fouling up the good times.  Given that he was a physician – and therefore well aware of the fact that every life hangs by a thread – a person could be forgiven for thinking that he might have done slightly better than that.

My lovely partner and I do it differently. We do our best to treat each day as a blessing. It doesn’t always work perfectly but it certainly beats the alternative. In that sense, we try to live every day as if it were Christmas Day.

However many hardships you may be facing in your life this Christmas, I do hope that you, too, can turn your focus to your blessings.

And because I am totally aware that this is not always easy, let’s look at the flip side of the coin.

What Norman Mailer got right

 Norman Mailer, as far as I can tell, was in many ways a ghastly man. He certainly came out with some unspeakable pronouncements. Still, he was a gifted writer. That was why I tried – hard – to wade through his book, “The Naked and the Dead”.

Having bitten off an insanely large topic for my Ph.D., I felt that I needed to know as much as I could about all the literature of the Second World War that covered every last theater of the war. So, I gamely attempted “The Naked and the Dead”.  I remember being about 70 pages in and throwing in the towel.  But not before I had read the (almost) unforgettable line*, “You gotta keep a tight asshole.”

At the time of attempting to read that book, I was struggling to hold on to my increasingly toxic marriage and suffering with raging IBS (so often a third player in an abusive marriage). I gave up to the book but held on to the – metaphorical – message through many, many tough times.

Norman Mailer was onto something!

There are times when all that you can do is just hold on the best way you can.  Sometimes, that in itself is huge.

Living every day as if it were the best of Christmas Day is a great way to live.  However, you can only do it when you able to.  Until then, you just have to do the best you possibly can.  If that means solely following Norman Mailer’s advice, that in itself can be a huge achievement.

Still, I suspect that there is always more than that.  In the darkest of times, you can find that flash of clarity, that moment of laughter, the nanosecond when despair gives way to something brighter.  That is huge, too.

The dark tunnel of despair

During my abusive marriage, I nursed this opinion that, one day, I would emerge from the Dark Tunnel of Despair into The Light. (Hand in hand with a totally reformed Mr. Nasty, of course.) Of course, that is not the way things went.

What happened for me – and what I see happening for my clients, also – is more like a game of Connect the Dots.  Albeit with the difference that those dots are not numbered and, therefore, you do not have to join them in any particular order.

Back in that Dark Tunnel of Despair, I started connecting the Dots of happiness. Often in a very half-hearted way. After a while, they started to illuminate my habitat – which was not so much a tunnel as a rather empty dwelling-place in need of some decent furnishings and TLC.

Gradually, I found myself turning into Pollyanna – which still causes me endless mirth. How, on earth, did that happen?

 It happened thanks to those dots – but also thanks to what I still consider Norman Mailer’s most inspirational dictum.  Yes, you want to live every day like your ideal Christmas Day and you also want to listen to Norman Mailer when times are tough.

Somehow that can be a winning formula.

Wishing you a Happy Every Day  – including Christmas and New Year.

*  Honestly compels me to admit that I forget that precise form of words that  preceded word #6   but that word is 100% accurate.


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.

Leave a comment

The 5 Simple Steps to Healing from Narcissistic Abuse

Over the next 5 days, I'll send you some lessons and tips that I've found have really helped women to heal from narcissistic abuse.  Starting with the basics.

Connect with me on Instagram

Want daily reassurance and inspiration? Sign up to my Instagram account. @dr_anniephd