Angela’s mother hates her husband.
She hates the way Angela dresses too.
And oh, she also hates Angela’s friends.
Angela can’t remember when her mother liked anything she did.
And Angela gets sick every time the holidays come around
because she knows all the stress it will bring up
between her mom and her husband.
This situation is always made worse by the constant phone calls from her flying monkey sister detailing all the drama of their engulfing Narc mother. Whenever her mother wants to send a message to Angela, she triangulates with Angela’s sister and then Angela’s sister passes on their mother’s expectations to her. Every year feels like the worst Thanksgiving Ever!
Angela’s husband says he’s had enough of the stress and drama. He’d rather spend the holiday alone–except for one problem–everyone is coming to their house this year and Angela’s counting on his help with their young children. The fight between Angela and her husband began when she asked him to wash all the windows in the house to help their house pass her mother’s idealistic housekeeping expectations. Not only did he not want to stand in the wind and cold to wash the windows, but he felt they looked clean enough as they were.
Angela just wanted to get through the weekend without any judgment from her Narc mom. Her husband said they shouldn’t have to change who they are just so they can have dinner with her family. Plus he hates how stressed out his wife gets every holiday. He wants to start their own traditions and make the holidays enjoyable again.
Finally Angela and her husband decided to visit a counselor. Angela felt like she was playing a game she could never win. The counselor explained how her mother saw her as a “mirror.” They discovered they had options. Even better they realized Angela’s Narc mom has options too. Mom can join them for a meal and accept Angela and family for who they are and how they eat and live or she can have dinner somewhere else.
Once they agreed, the hardest part was telling Angela’s Narc mom. Angela was tempted to follow the family pattern of triangulation and communicate through her sister, but she decided to start a new tradition and set an example for her children and others to follow. She called everyone to say she is no longer taking phone calls to hear what someone else has to say. If people want to talk to her, they need to call her and speak to her directly and she will do the same with them.
Then Angela told her mom that she was cooking her family’s favorites and she should be prepared because they have small children and the house might be a little messy. She offered no apologies or further explanations. She welcomed her mother to bring whatever food she wanted to contribute.
Her mother took the news as we can all imagine an engulfing Narc would and immediately called Angela’s sister. By the time her sister called, Angela was prepared. She asked her sister to stop relaying messages between her and other family members. Her sister felt Angela was hurting their mother, but Angela knew her sister had just bought into her Narc mom’s victimhood.
The dinner went quite well under the circumstances. Her mother griped about a few things, but Angela’s husband helped her stay focused on their own family. The secret to Angela’s peace of mind was realizing she and her husband were creating healthier traditions for their own children. Once she understood her mom is a Narc and there is nothing she can do to please her, Angela was set free to set her own boundaries and enjoy dinner with her family.