If this is your first Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s after breaking up or divorcing your abusive narcissistic, borderline or sociopathic ex, you may be feeling lonely. Maybe you’re second guessing yourself, wondering if breaking up was the right decision. What if you’d just given her or him a 2,483rd chance? What if you could learn to live with abuse? Maybe the narcissist or borderline will finally acknowledge their issues and change for the better?
And maybe Santa Claus will slide down your chimney and leave you a check for a million tax-free dollars under the tree, too?
My apologies for the seasonal sarcasm.
Perhaps you’re still in the first stages of grief rumination (video)and reminiscing about all the good times (or the good time singular). That’s understandable. Even if the majority of the relationship was a gaslighting, projecting, blame shifting, lying, betrayal-riddled train wreck that left you feeling inadequate and broken, it’s not unusual to feel extra vulnerable and miss the narcissistic, borderline or psychopathic ex during the holidays and other special occasions.
Not all, but many NPD/BPD exes are more likely to resurface and attempt a Hoover (i.e., sucking you back into the relationship) during times when you feel more vulnerable, sentimental, nostalgic or lonely. For this reason, Hoovers commonly occur at Christmas, New Year’s, birthdays, anniversaries, the anniversary of the death of a loved one or pet. If your ex contacts you, it’s not unusual to feel a flush of excitement. You may even convince yourself that it’s a sign the two of you are meant to be together.
[If I had the ability to do special effects this is where I’d edit in an image of my head exploding.]
DANGER! DANGER! Sharing your feelings of vulnerability with a narcissistic, borderline or psychopathic abuser is like throwing chum into shark-infested waters. It’s like cutting a gash into your thigh and wandering into the Okefenokee swamp without a compass. Your emotional vulnerability is a liability in the face of a personality disordered abuser. The less they know the less easily they can manipulate you.
By all means do talk with trusted friends, family or a therapist about your feelings. Hopefully they’ll be able talk you off the ledge if you’re considering reaching out to the abusive ex. But please, please, please don’t share this with the ex. It’s the equivalent of a lamb drawing a perforated line across its throat with text reading, “Cut here.”
If the borderline or narcissistic ex contacts you, don’t respond. Don’t reply to emails or texts. Don’t answer the door. Don’t respond to social media communications. And for goodness sake, if you don’t share minor children, why haven’t you blocked the crazy ex yet?
While the initial rush of what seems like the return to the halcyon love bombing stage may feel intoxicating, just stop. It isn’t real. It wasn’t real during the idealization stage and it isn’t real now. DON’T DO IT. Nothing has changed. It’s just more predatory behavior. To clarify, the ex is targeting you when you’re at your most vulnerable. That’s predatory behavior.
Don’t be excited, be insulted that she or he thinks you’re that gullible and/or cognitively challenged. How many times do you need to touch the hot stove to be convinced that it’s going to burn you? A rattlesnake in Ralphie’s pink bunny costume is still a rattlesnake. It’s just a rattlesnake in Ralphie’s pink bunny costume.
Every time you go back to your abuser you reset the clock on your healing. You also incur more damage to work through after you once again realize that nothing has changed. Since the holidays occur at the same calendar time each year Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s birthdays and anniversaries aren’t a surprise. Anticipate feeling vulnerable and plan for it. Think about how to keep yourself safe and out of temptation’s reach.
Formulate a self-care plan. Seek extra support from friends and family. Find a psychologist to help you heal from the grief and trauma. Keep yourself busy with positive activities. Avoid alcohol and other substances that can cloud your judgment to the degree that responding to, “Thinking of you . . . ❤️❤️❤️ Don’t you miss us? 😭😿🥞 Why did you stop fighting for us? 💪🤩👁” seems like a good idea.
Sometimes it can be difficult to anticipate what the crazy narcissistic or borderline ex will do next. But much of the time these individuals are ridiculously predictable. The Holiday Hoover is an easy one to predict, so take the necessary self-care steps. I know it hurts, but don’t make the mistake of confusing the poison for the cure. The loneliness will pass. And you will feel much better and stronger for riding it out.
Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD helps individuals work through their relationship and codependency issues via telephone or Skype. She specializes in helping men and women trying to break free of an abusive relationship, cope with the stress of an abusive relationship or heal from an abusive relationship. She combines practical advice, emotional support and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Schedule a Session page for professional inquiries or send an email to email@example.com.
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