It’s not the place that’s changed, it’s you. It’s not the narcissist that’s changed, it’s you. You are no longer willing to sit through a meal with people who belittle you for your choices in spouse, career, politics or religion. You woke up one day and realized these are your God-given choices and there is nowhere that you feel more disrespected than with your own family.
You might find this discovery a bit disconcerting. You might feel a little shame or guilt about your honest feelings. After all everybody you know seems thrilled to be going home for the holidays, but if the thought makes you ill, if you feel you should show up out of shame or guilt, you can’t go home.
Or maybe you have one parent you love and feel sorry for, but the other makes you feel two inches tall. If you have fantasies about rescuing one parent from the other, you can’t go home.
Or maybe you feel sorry for your parents until you call them up and they start feeding you shame messages because you’re not living up to their expectations. If you feel even a tiny bit like changing who you are to please them, you can’t go home.
Or perhaps you just want a good old fashioned Walton’s homecoming…then you absolutely cannot go home.
Why am I so sure about your inability to go home? Because your expectations, mixed with the narcissistic expectations of family members, can only create a toxic soup if mixed together. The truth is nobody can really go home again because whenever our fantasies of the past collide with reality, we always leave disillusioned.
However, all is not lost–you still have options if you follow these three rules for a wonderful holiday.
- The first rule is to let go of your expectations. Don’t expect your family to treat you well. Do not expect them to like your fiancée or your politics or your new career plans. Don’t expect them to like your pumpkin creme brûlée better than their own recipe for pie. And most important, don’t ever expect to receive the narcissist’s blessing.
- If you want to visit narc relatives, second rule is to stop trying to meet their expectations. If you must compromise who you are and what you believe then you will be miserable, but if you can stay strong and live out your own values regardless of what others say and think, you will be at peace whether they like it or not.
- The third rule is to never think of family dinners as going home. Home is where your spouse and dog respect you. Home is where you invite people to dinner who celebrate you. Home is where you can kick off your shoes without frantically scrambling to put them on so you can outrun antagonistic people. Home is where you can always be yourself with no explanations.
If you know who you are and what you like and you can nurture both yourself and others, then you are already home. And whether you spend a meal with your genetic family or dine with family-like friends, you can come to the table without expectations and use your intentions to create a life that glows from within because the boundaries are now in your head.