Angela’s husband gets upset at the thought of dinner with her family every year. She can’t remember a holiday when their marriage didn’t feel strained. Part of the problem is that Angela feels pressured to cook everything with her mother’s recipes–even though that’s not how she cooks for her family.
The 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 their mother’s expectations onto Angela. Every year feels like the worst Thanksgiving Ever!
Angela’s husband says he’s had enough of the stress and drama. He would 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 wants to get through the weekend without any judgment from her Narc mom. Her husband says they should not have to change who they are 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.
Fortunately Angela and her husband were smart enough to visit their counselor. Angels explained how she felt like she was playing a game she could never win. The counselor explained how her mother saw her as “my child, my mirror.” They both discovered their options. Even better they realized Angela’s Narc mom has options too. Narc 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 talking 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.
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 again 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 sanity was realizing she and her husband were not that kind of people. She now fully understood that her mom is a Narc and here is nothing you can do to please a Narc. She also began to enjoy freedom for the first time in her life.
If you are stressed about family gatherings this year and not sure if you are dealing with a Narc, here are some clues to help you figure it out:
- Narcs Use People
From cooking and cleaning, whether taking money or carrying messages, the Narc likes to get others to do all their work. They will use you for all you can give and then use others to shame you for what you can’t give.
- Narcs Make Everything About Them
They don’t see why you can’t bend to meet their needs. And they will monopolize the conversation. If you are hurting and need empathy, they will tell you how they survived even worse situations so you should just buck up and take it. If you are going through a hard time, you will need to find empathetic non-Narc friends.
- Narcs Play the Victim
It doesn’t matter how much you do for them–it’s will never be enough. They often feel jilted and betrayed by your attempts to be your authentic self. Such victims are hardly worth your own loss of identity to hang out with them.
- Narcs Talk About You to Others to Get People to Take Their Side
Triangulation is a sport for them. They spend hours figuring out how to make you look bad, so they can look good. They don’t see relationships, they see sides and they want everyone to be on their side. Nothing the Narc says about you or anyone else is reliable because it’s all been contrived through the Narc’s lying liar lie-hole.
- Narcs Stop Speaking to You When You Quit Letting Them Use You
When the Narc is done using you, you will experience shunning. That’s because you are now dead to the Narc. They have milked you for all they can and moved onto another resource. Trust me, this is not your loss—it’s a bonus for having boundaries! Pull out the bubbly and celebrate!
- Narcs Don’t Care About Relationship as Much as Using People or Being Right
The truth is, you really never had an actual relationship with the Narc. You just imagined you did because you are an empathetic person and always want to see the best in people. Unfortunately Narcs are incapable of meeting you on the high road and would like to drag you down to the mud and muck below. The good news is there is a world full of people who are not Narcs. Many loving people would be glad to have a relationship with you. Release yourself from the Narc’s expectations and go where you are celebrated!
*ACoNs–Adult Children of Narcissists