Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter
Self-care can be most challenging around the holidays when narcissistic abusers are free to exhibit the best of their worst behaviors and also use the “spirit” of the season to really play on our sympathies, guilt, and exaggerated shame.
After all, our lives had been ones where abusers habitually violated our personal boundaries and we were punished for caring for our own selves and even our basic needs. Our lives used to be and may continue to be ones where our dependence on others to define our self worth, who did/do not have our best interests at heart, caused/cause us to constantly be taken advantage of and exploited. Our abuse and painful histories caused us to abandon and neglect our own selves. It is also most challenging for those of us who also may be dealing with trauma and addiction to alcohol, drugs, food, etc.
Our pain triggers can be taxed when we are tag teamed by a herd of narcissists smacking their lips not only to cut into the turkey or ham but also for a piece of the vulnerable “scapegoats” who they view as free fodder for the taking and part of the holiday smorgasbord.
Holidays provide a perfect time for the narcissists and their flying monkeys to violate our personal rights and interests that are most important to us, the ones that make us personally vulnerable to self-suffering, the ones that cause us the most invisible pain that we as children and adults feel powerless and defenseless to, the ones we fear the most. This pain shows its ugly head to us as shame, exhaustion, guilt, self-loathing, self-sabotage, panic, fear, anxiety, and stress.
So our pain triggers are exaggerated around the holidays because the abusers use the holidays as a free ticket to violate others’ personal boundaries for their own self-serving ways. This is on top of us dealing with the routine holiday stressors, work parties, shopping, planning, Santa visits, flus, colds, etc. So what better time for the emotional vampires to get attention and adulation and mask it in generosity and family “love?” During the holidays, abusers and habitual boundary violators use their “generosity” of sending gifts or their hospitality or cooking skills to get attention and adulation they need from the the narcissistic herd!
This is, then, no better time to apply the time, distance, and shielding (TDS) rule to help protect you and your children from the abusers and their flying monkeys. The TDS rule which expands on the NO CONTACT rule is the same simple three-part rule that high risk toxic hazardous environments use across the world to prevent and mitigate the toxic effects of hazards and it is just as effective with toxic people.
The TDS rule as applied to narcissists goes like this. You can minimize your exposure to their toxicity by:
- Minimizing the time you spend around them;
- Maximizing the distance from them; and
- Putting up a barrier or shield between you and them.
Let’s break this down.
Harm from a toxic person is no different from harm from radiation or a hazardous chemical. Would you stand close to and spend the day with a radioactive source? Then why spend lots of time close to someone who did and does you and your children harm?
So remember this!!
The more toxic the person,
- the less time you spend with them,
- the greater the distance you put between you and them, and
- the thicker and stronger the barriers you set up to protect yourself and your children. You may even need multiple barriers, multiple layers of “defense in depth.”
Your exposure to toxic people is proportional to the amount of time you spend around them. Seems like common sense, but not having a well laid out plan, or just not being aware of how much time you are spending with them will put you in harm’s way.
However, applying the TDS rule when life-long habits, traditions and faulty beliefs get in the way can be challenging. Here are some obvious and not so obvious trauma triggers during the holidays and at other times for you to be aware of along with TDS rule tips to help you minimize the damage to you and to your children.
Remember! Plan ahead! Be proactive! Be creative!
You are invited to the narcissist’s home or a family function.
How can we protect ourselves? What do you do?
You have lots of options.
Do not spend time around the vampires. Learn to say “who cares?” Learn to say No. Refuse the invitation or ignore it. If you have to respond, tell them you prefer not to travel on holidays, because it is dangerous. Use this time of year to build your own traditions and invite friends who have no or distant family to your home. Turn lemons into lemonade. If you do not want to spend the holiday at your home, go to a friend’s home or out to dinner or volunteer your time and your children’s time at a shelter or homeless center. Your self-esteem and self-worth will soar as you use your free will and take action that will best serve you and keep you safe, protected and on course to meet your goals.
The narcissists send gifts to play on your sympathies and guilt.
How do you protect yourself using the TDS rule?
Do not return them or thank them for the gifts. Doing so is remaining in contact through communication and will start a domino effect of harmful effects. This may be hard to do at first because they are playing on your strongly ingrained sympathies and guilt. Your lack of self-care skills are being tested.
Again, you have several options.
Do not return the gifts. Give them to the needy. Would you accept gifts from a criminal or those covered in venom? No contact includes not accepting gifts, not sending thank you notes and not unwrapping them even. Do not forget that spending time with them includes remaining in contact that exposes you and your children to harm. Your children are healing through you not in spite of you.
The narcissist or his or her flying monkeys start playing on your shame and tell you that any decent child or person should and would spend Christmas with his or her family. They tell you or intimate covertly that you are a bad daughter, son, parent.
How do you protect yourself?
This is all a lie. They are manipulating you. This is covert aggression. Believing lies does not make them true. They want you and your children to fulfil the roles of scapegoats so they can feel emotionally intact. They want you in their presence to abuse you. They are pathologically envious of you! They are abusers and will continue to abuse you. Do not spend time with them! If you are not there, they will turn on themselves or find another scapegoat. There are no should haves or could haves or would haves in this world. There is a huge difference between real danger and fear.
They are playing on your faulty childhood beliefs, exaggerated shame triggers, and unhealthy dependence on them for validation. You are not an insect drawn to the light. You are a human being with the rights to make your own choices on whom you choose to associate with or not or to protect your children from harm. Do not overestimate the danger or underestimate your ability to deal with it. You have the right to protect your personal boundaries and self-interests and your and your children’s safety. Say No. Do not justify it to those who do not have your best interests at heart.”No” is a complete sentence and requires no justification.
You absolutely cannot avoid spending time with the narcissists for the holidays.
How can you protect yourself?
This unfortunate black cloud does have a silver lining. This is where creative shielding can help to protect you. Here are just a few suggestions.
First, provide yourself a safe haven that will provide a barrier between you and the narcissists and where you can go to for protection. If you are traveling a long distance, do all you can to not stay at the narcissist’s or flying monkey’s home.
If you must stay at the narcissist’s home, make prescheduled appointments and stay away as much as possible. Make plans ahead of time with your friends or to attend several shows or functions in the area. Buy the tickets ahead of time so you are committed to go. This will limit your time with the narcissists and their proxies, set up a physical barrier between you and them and help you maintain your personal authority and power.
Second, bring an emotionally healthy friend with you to keep you focused on your self and to help provide a barrier between you and the narcissists’ and flying monkeys’ venom.
Friends of mine have frequently asked me to attend family or other functions to provide moral support, deflect the narcissists’ attacks, and to provide a temporary source of attention to the narcissists who then stay off of the target’s back.
This has served us both well since it gives me an opportunity as an empath to help my friends and hone my rational skills and to do what I call “eat narcissists for breakfast” which is very empowering to me and has helped me in my healing.
I hope these tips help in empowering you as well to enjoy a delightful healthy and safe holiday filled with the blessings of this most special time of year.
Be well! Be safe!! And don’t forget the TDS rule. It is simple and very effective in helping you prevent and minimize harm from these creeps and enjoy your holidays as you so well deserve. Happy holidays!