It’s that time of year again; Christmas! Many people look forward to the holidays. They enjoy seeing friends and family, twinkle lights, decorations, parties, special foods and giving gifts to the people they love. However, many people do not look forward to the holidays—particularly if they’re married to or dating an abusive, high-conflict, personality-disordered woman and/or have to deal with an ex with these attributes.
If you fall into this group, you’ve probably learned to fear and dread the holidays because Christmas, Hanukkah, birthdays, anniversaries and just about any other special occasion have become synonymous with meltdowns, rage outs, blame, guilt, drama, conflict, tantrums, ultimatums, double binds and accusations. Many high-conflict and/or abusive personality-disordered individuals (e.g., Narcissistic, Borderline, Histrionic or Antisocial) escalate their venom, bitterness, anger, acting out behaviors and/or withdraw into depression this time of year.
Here are some of the typical complaints I hear from clients regarding the holidays:
- She hates my family and picks a fight the week before we’re supposed to visit and then refuses to go and gets mad if I go alone.
- She complains she hates Christmas because it’s too commercial, but then gets angry if I don’t spend enough money on her gift.
- She turns everything into a fight—buying the tree, where to put the tree, wrapping paper, where to go on vacation, presents for the kids, who to send Christmas cards to—everything is fodder for criticism and conflict.
- She expects me to spend an outrageous amount of money on her. If I don’t, she pouts, cries, gets angry and/or becomes abusive.
- She starts getting really nasty in October just as the Christmas decorations go up in stores and begins issuing ultimatums and missives about what we will and will not do this year.
- She’s teaching our children and me to fear and hate the holidays.
- She tries to control everything and if something isn’t perfect or goes awry, she gets angry and blames me or the kids.
- She plays games with holiday drop-offs and pick-ups.
- She sends spreadsheets of presents she expects my family and me to buy the kids and expects us to fill them out so she can have total control.
- She refuses to let our children see my side of the family.
- She tells our kids that I spend more on their step-siblings and wife because I love them more.
- She competes with me to give better presents to the kids.
- She makes me agree to a spending limit for the kids and then buys them expensive toys, games, etc.
- She puts the kids into double binds by planning ski trips for the days I’m supposed to see them during the holidays and makes me look like a bad guy when I insist on seeing them.
And on and on the list of abusive, manipulative Grinch-like behaviors goes.
Why do these women seem to be hellbent on making sure it’s a miserable holiday?
Control. The holidays trigger this kind of woman’s typical control freakery and ratchet it to greater heights. She tries to mange her anxiety by trying to control others and everything around her. Of course, this rarely works and typically creates a paradoxical effect whereby the more she tries to control everyone and everything else, the more out of control she feels, which makes her even more aggressive in her efforts to maintain some kind of illusory control. It’s a vicious cycle and it sucks if you’re on the receiving end of it.
To this woman, anxiety is a painful reminder that something is wrong with her. Hence her double-time control tactics—bullying, manipulation, intimidation, guilt, shame, rage, etc. For example, if your family makes her anxious (i.e., she fears they see through her or she feels inferior to them or she fears they’re judging her as inadequate), she’ll orchestrate some self-created drama, conflict, slight, insult, etc., to put the kibosh on seeing them during the holidays. God bless us everyone.
Buzzkill Queen. This kind of woman likes nothing better than to keep others from having a good time—especially if she knows it’s something you enjoy. It’s not enough for her to be sullen and angry; all the Whos in Whoville need to be miserable, too. In fact, it warms her 2 sizes too small heart to ruin holidays and other special occasions for her nearest and dearest (*Check out this link on PsychForum regarding a hypothesis that the Grinch has a personality disorder).
Many of these women seem to have a glitch when it comes to experiencing happiness, joy, warmth and good will that isn’t transactional. They just don’t get it and they resent the fact that other people have this capacity. This can also be a control tactic. By destroying the things you care about and enjoy, she grinds you down a little bit more, thereby weakening you and making you an easier target. Alternatively, it’s a form of withholding. These types get a charge from denying you anything that’s pleasurable or would bring you happiness or comfort, so don’t let her Scrooge you this year.
Center of Attention. Many of these women become unglued if they’re not the center of attention. By escalating her typical bad behaviors during the holidays, she becomes the focus. Everyone walks on landmines to please her and makes sure everything is to her liking, which is never going to happen, by the way. Remember, in many ways these individuals are like small children—any attention is good attention even if it’s negative attention.
For example, when I was a kid, I had a friend who attended my birthday party each year and within 30 minutes of arriving, would begin to sulk and pout in a corner. Fairly quickly, all of my other party guests would approach her and ask, What’s wrong? What’s the matter? Why aren’t you joining in the party? What do you want to do? Why aren’t you having fun with the rest of us? What games do you want to play? How can we cheer up? She did this at other friends’ parties, too, and, eventually, we all stopped inviting her because if she wasn’t the center of attention she would pout and try to ruin everyone’s else’s fun, thereby making herself the focus.
Unhappy Childhoods. Perhaps some of these women have horrible memories of the holidays from their childhoods and, for their own twisted reasons, are compelled to continue the painful tradition in their adult lives. They don’t see that they have the ability to break the pattern and have a new, positive experience. Since misery loves company, they often drag everyone else down with them. Spoiling the holidays for everyone else seems to make them feel better.
Many of these women will claim to have had perfect families and perfect holidays and then blame you for the holiday discord by saying it’s all your fault because you and your family are the ones with the problems. This is probably projection. People who have happy childhood memories and relatively healthy family of origin experiences don’t go into radioactive free fall after Halloween. On the contrary, they become cheery and festive this time of year.
Check back in a couple days for the follow-up post on how to enjoy the holidays in spite of your abusive wife, girlfriend or ex.
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Dysfunctional family Christmas at www.seriouslyfunnycards.com
A few years ago, my husband’s personality disordered ex wife tried to force me to spend Christmas with her, her current victim, and the kids she’s had with three different husbands at my father in law’s house. She told my husband to get a hotel room for us because she and her current victim were planning to stay at the in laws’ house. I decided not to show up. My husband went so he could see his kids and I stayed home and looked after our dogs so we wouldn’t have to board them in a kennel. It turned out I was the smartest one of the bunch. My husband said that little gathering was a disaster! And people blamed me because I didn’t show up for it! The in laws did eventually get over it, but they did give me the cold shoulder for a few years after that holiday nightmare. Unfortunately for my husband, that Christmas in 2004 was the last time he got to see his daughters because she really ratcheted up the alienation tactics after that.
I console myself by knowing that even if I’d gone, the outcome would have probably been the same… and we would have had to spend more money that we didn’t have on a perfectly miserable holiday. Or, if it had turned out okay by some miracle, that would have given her the notion to continue the tradition every year. No thanks.
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Actually, you seem to have been the only one out of the group who had a good Christmas, so who’s the Bah Humbug?
By the way, LOVE the irrationality of the blame bomb that the person who didn’t attend Nightmare on Christmas was the cause of the ill-conceived fiasco. Seems to me if the get-together sucked, that it’s the fault of those in attendance.
The ex was probably ticked off that she wasn’t able to ruin your holiday and wasn’t able to get you to dance to her tune, hence the blame and anger. Good on you!
We announced our divorce last year to the family in November, but was at the time still my stbx absolutely insisted that we all celebrate Christmas together as always. My guess from the list above is that she was animated by both Control and Unhappy Childhood. The whole thing was consistent with her rigidly held worldview that the only thing that would change in the divorce was that I would go away – not my money or property or children or family or friends or limitless, bottomless support for whatever it is she does, just me. We’d be a happy divorced family with her enjoying all the access and goodies that came with me, just not me, and this was Christmas and she was going to show people how that would be true. ;->
Slightly off topic, but not so much, funny though (for being true) so I think it’s worthwhile:
I was sitting on the floor talking with my kids yesterday while they were playing and they were talking about being married. The older one then asked me, “does it cost money to get married?”
Alarm bells went off in my head, “choose your words carefully D, this is a tricky one”, so I answered, “well, actually it is very expensive to get married.”
Surprised, this response came, “Really? Getting married costs money! How much does it cost?”
I thought about that for about 10 seconds, then answered, “well, all of it”.
“All your money?”
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Out of the mouths of babes…
“The whole thing was consistent with her rigidly held worldview that the only thing that would change in the divorce was that I would go away – not my money or property or children or family or friends or limitless, bottomless support for whatever it is she does, just me. We’d be a happy divorced family with her enjoying all the access and goodies that came with me, just not me, and this was Christmas and she was going to show people how that would be true. ;->”
OMG… this is exactly the same kind of thinking my husband and I observed in his ex wife… I think this was also partly why she felt she could invite my husband to spend the night in a hotel while she and her current victim stayed in my husband’s dad’s house. She was going to show us that she was still a member of the family and push us to the periphery. The in laws went along with it for awhile until the ex went nuts and suggested my husband put the kids up for adoption. She tried to get them to believe it was his idea until my husband sent them an actual email she sent taunting him about it.
I guess they really are all an awful lot alike. I would pity her third husband, but she treated my husband with total contempt during the Christmas fiasco and he and the ex probably deserve each other. I only hope at least one of the five kids she has turns out to be somewhat normal.
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Out of curiosity, while your husband and his ex were married did she dislike, denigrate or refuse to spend time with his family and develop a sudden kinship when the divorce began?
Many of these types carp for years about how stupid, unworthy, horrible etc., their in-laws are and then once the marriage ends, they suddenly make like they’ve always loved them, been the fave DIL and try to turn their husband’s own family against him. Like I said, just wondering.
She has always hated his mother, probably because his mother saw through her from the very beginning. She always seemed to idolize his father and, I think, acted like she loved his stepmom, probably because stepmom was always very insecure about my husband’s mother and she could use that to her advantage. She claimed after their divorce that FIL and SMIL had told her they thought of her as their daughter and they would always have a close relationship, despite my husband’s “negativity” (her words– my husband is not at all a negative person).
Last January, my husband and I had our first visit together with his dad and stepmom (he has seen them on his own) in several years. During that visit, we cleared the air about the Christmas debacle and I explained in detail why I didn’t go (aside from the fact that we really were poor at the time). I told them I felt like the ex was setting me up. I also felt it was disrespectful for me to be in their home feeling as hostile as I did about the situation when I knew they just wanted to have a holiday with the grandchildren. They told me that I was absolutely right not to show up, even though they were upset about my absence at the time… probably because it threw a wrench in the ex’s big plans and I’m sure they all paid for it.
My mother-in-law has always told me stories about how the ex would tell her that she and my husband thought she was inappropriate and didn’t set the right example for the kids. She told her that SMIL was the “better grandmother” because she fit the part better. We later found out from my husband’s stepmother that the ex had always compared her negatively to my husband’s mom. She would tell her things MIL did for the kids. Both my MIL and SMIL were very surprised when I told them that she had been playing them against each other.
Everything that comes out of my husband’s ex wife’s mouth is a lie or a half truth.
Oh… and I forgot to add, when she and my husband were on the verge of splitting, she did call my mother-in-law to tell her that she might want to reconsider spending Christmas with him because he was violent and hated women. She did the same thing to SMIL and FIL. MIL believed her for an instant, then realized it was bull and advised my husband to get a divorce. SMIL and FIL believed her for a little longer. When we were visiting SMIL in January, she actually asked me if the things the ex had told her years before were true. She had basically painted him to be a violent sadistic pervert.
I laughed and told her that her stepson does not have a single mean bone in his body. Anything close to perversion in their marriage was entirely consensual. I’ve been with him for eight years and I haven’t seen any sign of this crazed woman hating monster she made him out to be.
She pretty much held my family in almost as much contempt as she held me, they were essentially nothing more then caricatures to her for years, nothing more than the expression of what she took to be their worst trait. Then divorce and it was this great incredible matter of how we would be all kept together in relationships like nothing had changed. I remember being so puzzled by it and expressing frustration to my sister, said something to the effect of “I don’t understand what there is for her not to understand. There’s a place people go at times like these to seek refuge from a$$holes like her, it’s called family, and this one isn’t her’s.”
Personally, I think many of these women get so full of hatred that they want to take everything from their victims, including their families of origin. If your family rejects you and embraces her, that’s the ultimate statement that she’s right and you’re wrong. I’m sure it really feeds their egos when they can get a man’s own parents to turn their backs on him.
I also think my husband’s ex wife tried to “steal” my husband’s father and stepmother because she didn’t have much of a relationship with her own family. She was adopted and never knew her birth parents. Her adoptive parents divorced when she was very young and she didn’t know her adoptive father until she was about seven years old. They never had much of a relationship after that. Her stepfather was supposedly abusive, and her mother apparently allowed the abuse so he would abuse the children she had given birth to. She has a lot of half and step siblings, all of whom were born into the family. I think she saw my husband’s family as a lot more normal and fitting in the image of what she thinks a proper family should be.
The image of a normal, happy, decent family is evidently very important to her, so much so, that she even decided to join the LDS church a few years before she and my husband split. The way my husband explains it, the LDS church offered the image of the kind of perfect family she wanted, even if the reality is that no family can be perfect, church or no church.
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Thank you everyone for sharing your experiences re: divorce and the attempts to hijack your families of origin. These women would take the lint from your pockets if they thought it held any value. However, the families who fall for their nonsense and actually support the ex instead of their own flesh and blood—sorry, but what the heck?
I understand many families are scared that they won’t be able to see grand-kids, nieces, nephews, cousins, etc., but come on. It’s like they develop amnesia (for those who had outbursts and were openly rude). It’s more evidence, in my opinion, that many of these individuals only value things that they don’t have. Specifically, this kind of woman can’t stand her in-laws and always makes a drama out of having to visit them. Then the divorce occurs and they act as if they had this great love/relationship and they’re going to fight to keep it intact.
If she truly believes this, she’s delusional. If she’s trying to destroy your relationship w/your family out of spite, it’s pathological. I also think it has something to do with their need for control and total spin control on their image. I think many of these women would be genuinely shocked to discover how relieved most husbands’ families are to not have to deal with the stress and their hateful behavior anymore—even the families who are freaked out by divorce.
Fascinating, yet pathetic.
For whatever reason, perhaps because they like me and because they know her history, my XW’s family still includes me in all types of things. When I found out about her cheating, I first questioned if I had it right. They assured me I did and supported my decision to divorce her.
My XW was really pissed that I continued to associate with her folks and brothers. Over time, she has gotten used to it, as her efforts to undermine the realtionship fell on deaf ears.
So, maybe I commandeered her family. But, I was not the one who cheated and was abusive. So, I felt no obligation to abandon the friendships I had made wit them.
On the spoiling Holidays deal, yes. I noticed that before all holidays and birthdays, Vlanetines etc. my Xw would start a fight for no reason. I often wondered why she had to pick these times to go ballistic.It was like clockwork.
My ex has hijacked my grandmother and three of my aunts, who are more like sisters to me. She was usually very pleasant to them to their faces, but often spoke ill of them behind their backs, but now they all think she is just peachy. They did when I was still married to her; my ex told me that one of my aunt’s told her that my aunt’s whole family liked her the most of anyone in our extended family. I remember thinking to myself at the time, the poor deluded fools.
My ex often told me that same aunt was two-faced and crazy, that another of my aunts pathetically lived vicariously through her high school daughter, and that the third was a judgmental, sanctimonious gold-digger. (She never did call my grandmother out, even behind her back.)
As it happens, my ex’s assessment of those aunts is kind of true. That’s why it is so weird to me that she took the time and effort to take them out of my life.
As for me, after some initial hurt, I am relieved they are gone. They can have her; she can have them. My mom’s side of the family is a cesspool of dysfunction. Holiday dinners simmer with resentments. It’s a chemical stew — most of them are loaded to the gills on anti-depressants, and they enthusiastically evangelize those that are not to join them. Like those zombies in that “Last Man on Earth” movie. (Omega Man?)
There were seven children in that family. The one uncle has a serious mommy complex and can only relate to his mother, English bulldogs and children. My mother is gone. She was an alcoholic and addicted to narcotics (heroin and codeine) and was long-banished from the family, along with my three innocent siblings. (For a time, my family accepted me because my dad was not “tacky” like my sibs’ dad.)
One aunt is special needs, and then there are the three above. Only one of them is well-adjusted and sweet, and I think it is in large part because she has long lived 1000 miles from this mess here. At any rate, she was the only one to come to my wedding to my new wife. The rest, along with my grandmother, stayed away to support my ex in her “time of need.”
As for her [overseas] family, she has barred them from coming to visit her in America, as she either fears my family will think they are beneath them or is worried that her alcoholic dad or brother might embarrass her. She thinks really poorly either of my family or hers or maybe both of them. Actually, she thinks pretty ill of most people…
winston smith says
knotheadusc’s husband here.
I remember this being my worst Christmas on record. Ex and I were negotiating visitation when she brought up this “great idea”. Right away I saw her real intention was to force DW and me into a corner. Ex surmised that at my parents house we’d be disinclined to make a scene, and that DW would behave in hopes of pleasing the in-laws.
Ex didn’t count on DW not playing along, and she tried to exploit the turn of events by going to stepmom all teary-eyed. Stepmom laid into me and I fired back. It was an awful time for everyone. I ended up telling my dad that it would never happen again.
Ex hurt me to the core. For years I couldn’t understand how anyone could be so cruel. One of the toughest hurdles was accepting the fact that ex would never accept responsibility for her actions.
Every. Single. Special. Occasion.
Valentine’s Day. Vacation. Her Graduation. My Graduation. More Vacations. Her Birthday. Our Anniversary. All of them, destroyed by rage episodes, often starting 2-3 days prior, lasting until the wee-hours of the morning, only to be continued the following night, until the actual event arrived, and then I would get blamed for ruining it, because I’d “made” her get angry (kind of like “you made me hit you!”).
This all coupled with “you need to plan things for us to do/places for us to go!”
Yes, because…it’s…just…SO…much fun.
For my ex, I think it was a combination of all of the reasons above. I honestly don’t know what stories to believe about her childhood anymore, as they just seem more and more outlandish with time and distance.
Thank you for posting this. I’d like to piggy back on this for a piece for next week…something I’ve been rolling over in my head the last few days. We can talk about it later.
This issue of the stories about family is a big one isn’t it? The more I see the less I am sure I know, when it comes to both my ex’s family of origin and to my SO’s STBX BPD crazy.
Normal can be great – there is all chance that Mother Nature will make my current Christmas plans rearrange themselves (why oh why does the UK grind to a halt when three snowflakes fall?), but it is so good knowing that there will be no blame and probably a fantastic curry on Christmas Day if I don’t get to do the current plan A.
Kind of different from 1999-2000, where I got up and cooked Christmas dinner with a temperature of 104…turkeys make for interesting halucinations.
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Can’t wait to read it, Kev. Will post your latest article today. Good stuff!
Man I could have written your post.
Every single special occasion *I* ruined. *I* ruined her birthday, *I* ruined Christmas (again), *I* ruined vacations, the honeymoon, the wedding, valentines day, our anniverssary, etc etc.
Im a year out come this Saturday and sometimes I sit and remember the good times we had. The psychotic, nonsensical fights seem to fade away. I sometimes have the urge to send her an e-mail. Let me tell you, Im so glad I found this site.
When I start feeling nostalgic this site fixes that right up, like a brick to the side of the head.
Interesting article. I spent 5 Xmases with the exgf and her family and I have to say, those are actually some of the best memories I have of the time we spent together. The holidays with her family were pretty tightly scripted. Xmas Eve was spent at one uncle’s, Xmas day was at the exgf’s place, NY’s Eve we spent together and Xmas day was at another aunt’ place. She controlled Xmas Day. The exgf was responsible for Xmas dinner and making sure everybody got there. I asked once why she always did it. She said something like if she didn’t do it, it wouldn’t get done and they’d be eating Xmas dinner someplace like Denny’s. Interesting stuff seemed to happen on Xmas Day. My grandfather died one year and she declined my marriage proposal on Xmas Day 1985.
I have really fond memories of shopping in downtown Seattle and drinking hot buttered rums by the fire in a hotel lobby with her. I remember coming over one morning to find her in tears. I asked what happened and she said her cat had knocked my Xmas present off the shelf and broken it. She wouldn’t tell me what it was until she’d had a chance to fix or replace it. The present was a neon sculpture of the Rolling Stone lips and was pretty expensive. She took it back to the gallery and the artist repaired it. She said he was not too happy. The lips lit up but the repair made it look like a neon hair lip.
I know I’m way out of the mainstream here but Xmases with her were fun. I’d buy her something from the adult section of Spencer’s and put it in one of the other presents so she always had to be careful when she opened them in front of her parents. I bought her a tool kit the first year we were dating. I remember her coming out of the kitchen holding the vise-grips and saying, “This is cool! Do you have any idea what you can do with this!?” I told her I had a pretty good idea. She said she thought it was really cheesy for a guy to buy tools for his girlfriend but after using them awhile, she thought they were “pretty neat.”
For all the things that killed our relationship, I can’t hold this one against her.
Mr. E says
“Many of these women seem to have a glitch when it comes to experiencing happiness, joy, warmth and good will that isn’t transactional. They just don’t get it ”
My wife once said it almost exactly like that: “You like making me feel good. I don’t get it.”
She also usually finds some reason to get all pissy during or close to special occasions. Buying her gifts is an absolute nightmare. I vaguely recall a time when buying gifts was fun, but now it’s just pure stress. Especially because I’m expected to “know” what she wants, and “take the hints.” Then she finds reasons to be critical of the gifts. Getting gifts is even worse. Apparently, I never like what she gets me. She knows, because if I liked it, I wouldn’t have set it down for like 30 seconds while I had some coffee…
Happy Holidays! 😀
Fortunately, what I tried to post yesterday didn’t go through, so now I can write a little more calmly about what just transpired a few days ago…
My partents ordered and had shipped to us our Christmas gifts. When it arrived, she wanted to open it right then to see what kind of ‘crap’ they sent us. When we got it open and saw what they sent, she went ballistic. For at least the first full 5-10 minutes, it was non-stop vulgarity, name-calling, and judgemental attitude I’ve grown to tune out. Then she immediately demanded I return the gifts right back to them with a note telling them how @#$% worthless these gifts were to us, which were unique, but admittedly cheap kitchen utensils. Even the gift that was meant solely for me was out of the question of keeping. I made the mistake of telling her I liked it and wanted to keep it. Another tirade of how $#@% stupid and idiotic I am and how can she be surprised knowing who raised me. She decides to call her mother to get her opinion on what she should do, so convinced her mother would agree with her, but to her astonishment (and my amusement), her mom said to accept the gifts with a thank you and move on. At least 30 minutes yelling and arguing on the phone with her own mother, and when she did not get that satisfaction, she turned her anger back to me, incredulous that I didn’t feel the same way as her.
I haven’t spent a Christmas or any major holiday with my parents in years. The closest I got was the day after Christmas last year, and once we left, she declared we would only see my parents once every five years from now on. She was absolutely serious and to even try to compromise was futile. I know wives and in-laws don’t always get along, but the hatred she holds for my parents is astounding and unwarranted in my mind. When she goes off like that about my own family, I want to tell her to go to hell, but I manage to convince myself I’m supposed to take my wife’s side above all else, or else why would I have married her?
never again says
My marriage went off the rails after 10 months, and in my efforts to fix it, the following Christmas (our second as a married couple), I went above and beyond. For 3 months before Christmas, I noted every single thing that she said either “I want” or “I need” to. I made a list, and bought them ALL for Christmas.
Christmas morning, I was so excited as she opened everything up and praised it all. Then, heartbroken and in dismay, I watched as she returned every single thing, by December 28. Every. Single. Thing.
Given that Christmas growing up was not good (alcoholic father), this was the final straw. While I enjoy the season, I simply can’t get excited about Christmas Day. After that debacle, I gave her only gift cards. Of course, she blamed me for Christmas not being a special time, but really, after that performance, I just couldn’t get enthusiastic.
Last year, we were in the final throes of our marriage. She wanted to visit her parents across the country, so we all piled in a plane on Christmas Eve and flew there. Christmas morning, she made a big performance for her parents, and had $hundreds in gifts for me. And after the gifts were all opened, nothing changed. She treated me like a piece of garbage, the same as she had for the last 3 years. I finally told her that I didn’t need any of the gifts she had given me. I simply wanted her to be my wife, which she hadn’t in months. Once again, I was accused of ruining Christmas. It was during that week that I finally realized that things were never going to be right in our marriage and, though it took me another two months, I finally left her.
Ah yes, Christmas with a Cluster B. Has a more exquisite form of torture ever been invented?
Two years ago I asked pNPDw what she wanted for Christmas several weeks ahead of time. Her reply was, “I’ll need to think about it.” A few weeks go by, and I ask again. Her reply again was, “I’ll need to think about it.” No answer ever came, and on Christmas day there was no gift under the tree from me to her.
Oh my, that was one spectacular tantrum. Even got her sisters on the phone to tell (I mean shriek) her sorry tale. Naturally, at that moment she was full of ideas of things I could have gotten her for Christmas.
Mind you, she gets more stuff throughout the year than the rest of the family combined.
That was how I ruined Christmas that year.
Up in Montana there are rare corn blue saphires..Yogo is the name. They are found nowhere else on the planet-and they are expensive. I went out and dropped about 700 dollars on a set of earings for her. Thought I’d really done something neat! The next size and level would have run me about 5,000. Kinda silly to spend that much. Well, you guessed it…she was pissed because they were “too small”. I was hurt and mortified…and she knew it. She flew outa the house in a rage. I had to literally take her to the store and show her the price jump…then she got more ok about them. When I think of the shallowness and abuse I took…I wanna barf.
I would like to offer my own take on the matter: growing up in a dual-faith household (Mother a catholic and Father a protestant), it meant there was friction, but also gave me an advantage in a desire to seek out Christ’s true message.
I am a very passive, non-confrontational individual especially when it comes to this Holiday which I feel has become a shell of its true meaning, not to mention diluted due to multiculturalism. Less is more, and all that, which of course went against the grain. I am childless, and really don’t have many opportunities to connect with my nieces and nephews due to interference, falsely portraying me as the outsider, and distance, so I put a lot of thought into why I would go out and spend my hard-earned money on presents for children I never see. Wasteful. Also, giving them money would only be superficial.
So, I thought about it and presented my idea to my family: when these children turn age 18, or 19, I will give them the accumulated cash that I would have spent on them, in order to give them a hand-up when they are starting out on their own. Met lots of resistence, but I haven’t wavered, and I know in my heart this truth will be accepted by all.
Also, as far as going to family dinners, I declared years ago that “when I have a family, I will do family things” meaning these events are extremely alienating to me as I get the ‘poor you’ when I try to present my own struggles that aren’t related to being single.
Great blog entry! Even before I went no contact with my likely NPD/possibly BPD mom, I stopped spending Christmas with her because it was such a miserable experience compared to spending it with extended family. If you want the details/background, I wrote a blog post about it last week:
And an aunt who is likely BPD keeps blowing up at her daughter and ending up with us, which means, along with dealing with Cousin Mimi, who is likely NPD, we have to now deal with 2 PDed people at Christmas (Thanksgiving, Easter). I love the aunt who organizes these events and she’s in her 80s, so I go because I don’t want to miss the time with her, her sons & her partner, but they really do put a damper on the holidays. I wrote about that in this post on obligations:
I love your whole post, but especially the part about sad, etc. Christmases in the past and the fact that we do have the ability to create happier ones in the present and the future, but PDed people refuse to. The highway entrance I take to get home from my great-aunt’s home has a lot of unpleasant memories for me. That’s where my parents would start drunken arguments which would end in all sorts of threats and fighting. While my dad was driving. The first few times I drove home as an adult from my aunt’s home, my heart would pound, my mouth would go dry, I’d be gripping the steering wheel tightly, breathing faster, etc. But after a few times, the pleasant memories of time with my great aunt started over riding my panic and I was much calmer. So it is possible to replace the associations of a place or time of year. One just has to work really hard at it.
I’ve done that with the holidays, I opted out of the family New Year’s because even with Limited Contact, that’s just too much toxicity from me between October and January (we have family birthdays in October & January), so we gather at least once a month between October & January. Instead, I’m spending it with a friend’s family who are relaxed and mellow people to be around. Always a good time.
Interestingly enough, this friend and her family have become part of my Family of Choice. Her mother had a life which was as difficult as my mother’s. They even both lost a parent on Christmas Eve. I spend Christmas Eve with them and Christmas Day with my great aunt. My friend’s mom will remember her father and be a bit sad because it’s the anniversary of her dad’s death, but she doesn’t get angry at anyone or lash out at everyone the way my mother does. Gradually over the years, seeing her kids enjoy Christmas helped restore the joy to the holiday, so while she still misses him, she also enjoys the holiday with her husband, daughters and son-in-law & me (who they’ve sort of adopted 🙂
And when my friend & I were talking about self-esteem issues, when I said my mother had a rough childhood and that probably explains why she was so nasty, my friend pointed out so did her mother. But her mother never got nasty with her kids and always truly wanted the best for them.
oops, meant too much toxicity for me.
I have been the boyfriend of a BPD/NPD woman for over two years now. It seems like a short time… but as Christmas approaches again, I can’t help but thinking how the last two holiday seasons have been simply hellish. It makes me so sad, thinking back to how much I used to love the holidays- just the general feeling of peace and getting to enjoy friends and family. Two christmases later and already I have ruined my relationship with my family (her highly-intentional doing) and ahave lost most of my friends. All month shes been dragging me around from mall to mall, and out to stuff with HER equally horrid friends. I never get to see mine.
Here’s my tip: Find yourself a good flask, keep a good supply of rum on hand, and sneak of to the washroom for a “sanity drink” as I call it, whenver things become unbearably rough.
Cheers to all my fellow hen-pecked husbands, boyfriends, and ex’s.
Happy Holidays, and don’t be ashamed for the occaisional “sanity drink”!
Dr Tara Palmatier says
I’m not opposed to sanity drinks, but just a gentle warning: For those of you who have symptoms of depression, alcohol is a depressant and will only exacerbate the condition, so please be responsible.
Only thing that ever worked for me was Morphine…post surgery(s) Those were the fleeting moments, that, no matter what she was saying….all I could think was-Damn! I’m one lucky guy-to be with this lady! Alas, pursuing Opiates is not a good idea……tho I did consider it….
Instead of staying with someone who drives you to drink, why not break it off and repair the relationships with your friends and family? Then when you’re healed and recovered enough, work on meeting a healthy & happy woman who doesn’t require you to sneak off for sanity drinks to tolerate her company.
Whatever you do, don’t procreate with a Cluster B. As the daughter of one, I can tell you, it’s not fair to the kids.
When it comes to my relationship, I know exactly what I SHOULD do. If a friend of mine were in a relationship like mine, I would tell him, “Bud, you need to end this, you will be so much happier. You can do better, you can enjoy your life again.”
I feel some days that my mind has been so messed with that I don’t know what to think anymore. I know this is a product of her abuse, but the sick part is that I have been messed with so much that I can’t even imagine leaving. Sometimes I have a moment where I realize what I’ve allowed myself to go through for her, and I hate myself. I could take up this entire page with the literally insane things she has said and done to me, and I wouldn’t come close. I know that sounds like an exaggeration, but I feel like many of you in similar situations will understand.
Just today, she screamed at me for- I kid you not, an hour- without stopping. I do not mean that as a figure of speech. A list of every crime I or anyone associated with me has ever committed “against her”. This was incited because my mother’s opininion on vacation spots did not line up with her’s, and she saw it as some sort of underhanded character-attack.
I went to work at my night job after a day of hell today, looking forward to it so I would not have to communicate with her in any way.
Deep down, I feel as though I want HER to leave me. I don’t know why, but I can’t handle the guilt of leaving her.. despite all of this. Why on earth do I feel this way?
Mr. E says
I know what you mean about the guilt of leaving. I’ve been dealing with the same thing for too long.
If you feel like you’re going to be a bad guy for leaving her, then embrace your “bad guy-ness” (on this specific issue).
And don’t wait for her to leave you. If you leave it up to her, you can be certain she will do it in the most damaging way she can… AND you’ll be left pining away for her.
Do yourself a favor and read up on “Stockholm” syndrome. Google it. I too could never think of leaving on my own. Had to eat a few more of her shit sandwiches. Ultimately she flew out of my house one night a year ago and I haven’t seen her since. She has contacted me a time or two, but instead of getting sucked back in- I don’t respond. I finally decided to declare victory and go home! So, in some way, I guess I did leave on my own terms. Just wish I’d done it 15 years sooner. Try to picture yourself playing “Rhett Butler”……”Frankly, you nutjob, I don’t give a damn”………
Aaaand..one more thing. Do NOT hang around because you hate the thought of her with someone else! We ALL get caught in that trap, and they play on it. Like a cat toying with a half dead mouse. Believe me, the day will come…when jealousy creeps into your mind…and it means nothing. You will find yourself smirking and thinking “well, she’s HIS problem now” what a glorious day that is. Pull that bandage off in one painful yank….stop living your current death by a thousand cuts existence. It’s beautiful on the other side. I was one of the worst cases you can imagine. Back and forth for 15 years…if I can make it out-you can too. Best of luck amigo.
never again says
Plus 1 on the jealousy thing. My NPD is absolutely gorgeous, with a cheerleader’s figure and an total vixen – when she was setting her trap. For the first couple months after I left, it drove me bananas that someone else was going to be (and, it turns out, already was) tapping that.
The sane part of me finally prevailed, when I was able to calmly look at the situation and say “So what if someone else is. She sure wasn’t letting me, and didn’t for three years. And if he falls into her trap, that’s his problem, not mine.”
I still think back, wistfully, to the good times, and there was a long time that I couldn’t even look at a beautiful woman without her immediately popping into my head. But jealous? She’s not worth it.
I got over it yet another, and additional way. It was kind of a math equation. My sex life had dwindled to me being the “human vibrator” roughly once every 10 days. My performance usually lasted about 30 minutes….29 for her 1 for me….ok…maybe I really enjoyed it for 10. At any rate, 10 minutes of bliss in the context of 10 day sections with her- breaks down to 14,390 minutes of misery and 10 of pleasure. Someone shoulda put me in a straightjacket and locked me in a rubber room!
never again says
Chester, if you’re doing math, by coincidence, the other day I worked out the “opportunity cost” of being married to her. The first 3 years, it was amazing, 4-5 times/week. The last 3.5 years, it was less than 10/year, and was, in a word, lousy. A friend likens it to “having your oil changed”.
When I calculate that she walked away with over half-a-million dollars, and divide that by the number of times we had what can only euphemistically be referred to as “sex” in the last few years, it works out to over $14K/jump.
And I thought former NY Governor Elliot Spitzer was an idiot for paying $5K per. At least he was getting full value for his money…
In college, I lost a girl I was interested in to another guy. I was jearlous and the thought of another man’s hands on her drove me nuts.
I remember whem my exgf told me she was seeing someone else after we had broken up. It felt like somebody kicked me in the stomach. I didn’t know it was possible that something someone said could literally cause you pain. I thought U was going to throw up. As she was talking, the pain subsided and it dawned on me that it was truly over. The feelings of what I felt in college and talking to the exgf were nothing alike. I realized that what I was feeling then was the pain of loss. I wasn’t jealous. I took it as a validation that breaking up was the right decision.
I wish I could type…
The other huge thing I’ve done, and it’s saved my ass, is get myself back into shape. That’s the best revenge really…just knowing that when I get with other women…they like what they have hold of. Sure, it’s a surface kinda thing, but I’ll take ANY advantage I can get- in order to dodge the abyss.
Tough as getting “the word” is….it truly is the first day of healing yourself up. Been there. It was incredibly painful…but same as your experience, it really didn’t last that long. Like you, I ain’t EVER going back-where someone else has been. PERIOD.
Neveragain, Mine too was an absolute knockout. The world makes all kinds of excuses and allowances for the beautiful ones……and they know it.
A buddy of mine put it this way,
“She ain’t that good looking to be that obnoxious!”
My GF and I were with my family on XMas Eve last year. While there, my mom told me that she ran into my old high school girlfriend’s mother at the grocery store. She recognized my mom and they chatted and she told my mom that they have my old high school yearbook. I thought that was funny because I KNEW my old high school sweetheart had it and lost it and never admitted to it. Anyway, of course my current BPDGF took that as a slight towards her. Even though I’m in my mid-thirties and haven’t talked to my high school girlfriend in almost 20 years. That was all she needed to ruin the night – my favorite night of the year – and she did. She was pouting all night and acting weird. Then when we went home, she withheld affection while saying everything was just fine. So finally I snap, and she wins. Christmas morning was spent breaking up, her calling her family and sobbing because we “broke up” then us getting back together.
All-in-all, a perfect Christmas for her! A year ago I knew nothing about BPD. Now I do. I am prepared now for this Christmas.
Thank you everyone, I appreciate all of your comments more than you know. I’m so glad that I stumbled across this website- it’s nice to talk with rational people for a change!
You guys really hit the nail on the head with the bit about jealousy. It’s insane- I suppose a testament to the power of her manipulation- that I am so upset by the concept of losing HER to some other guy. But I still can’t even fathom it! As for many of you, sex has gone somewhat down the tubes for me as well. For me the reason is in many ways different though: on the off night when everything is great and we are talking and laughing, I can’t wait to get home and into bed with her. BUT on an average night where we likely get into atleast one major fight, things are different. Sure, an hour later the pendulum-that-is-her-mood has swung back to the “happy side” after criticising and insulting me, but I am left in an exhausted, bitter state. In that situation, nothing is less appealing than sleeping with a woman who JUST finished brutally ripping apart your self-esteem, oh so intentionally.
It’s such a vicious cycle.
CH: You can and will do much better. You have to get to the point of departure on your own time. But take it from me, it will get no better–and much worse!
A family member sent me this article today and I was awestruck by what I did not know I was going through for so many years. This is my first Christmas after our divorce and it is bittersweet. The pain continues, though there is light at the end of the tunnel. Unfortunately, the damage has been done for many years and much of it is irreparable.
To any man who is continuing in a relationship with an abusive woman, I caution you to listen to that little voice inside you and get out. You cannot change her and it will not get any better.
Thank God I found this blog.
Peace to all.
Escalation around the holidays. Absolutely true. I used to think it was weird that my ex spouse seemed to be acting out. That couldn’t be the case. Why the hell would anyone in the world want to ruin the holidays?
But that was exactly what she was doing. Putting up a Christmas tree became a big argument – always. And after nearly driving me into the ground around the holidays with all kinds of demands, she would say I ruined Christmas for some reason. Then she would say I let the kids down.
After she left, I had the kids over and we put up the tree. It was so fun and peaceful. But the ex spouse calls my little daughter on Christmas Eve at 11;00 pm on a cell phone asking “are you okay?”, telling the kids she was lonely and getting them upset and crying. Instead of visions of sugar plums, my little girl is crying for her mom and wants to “go home” on Christmas Eve.
On the holiest night of the year for many of us, this is what she does. I cannot even fathom to this day how I ever even kissed this monster of a person.
And after nearly five years of separation, and two of divorce, she files a contempt motion against me for no reason right during the holidays so that she can sit there in front of some magisrate and spew venom at me. I had her lawyer kick her out of the room.
Of course later on she sent me a text threatening to not bring my kids over for Christmas for their visitation.
Again, all of this was under the radar when I was married for twenty years. Her whole life is one big fake act. I truly believe that deep down she has no ability to love anything. She is just an extremely mean person. Like Nazi prison camp guard Aemon Goethe in Schindler’s List, she gets off on hurting people. There is no power in anything else. There is no payoff from love or mercy.
What a waste of my life. Wasting all my love on someone who never could even receive it. Kissing some person who essentially has the emotional maturity and morality of a five year old. It sickens me to this day.
I should pity such a blind person. But I won’t. Ultimately, no matter how “disordered” she is it is her choice to be purely evil. I will let the Lord deal with her. If she is full of hate and anxiety the rest of her days, that is fine.
I am going to hang a shining star on the highest bough and have a merry little Christmas NOW.
After ruining my Christmas this past weekend because my wife hates my family she now tells me that’s the last holiday she will attend with my family.
Had to listen to how horrible it would be starting on Monday and leading all teh way up to Saturday, very typical though.
Not a Christmas tale of such, however – the first (mine) birthday I shared with my wife, she asked “What would you like to do for your birthday?” I replied quite genuinely “Um, actually I’d like to take it easy and not really do much at all. I just want to kick back”. She was incredulous. I was blown away. She then proceeded to go into ‘melt-down’ for the next 2 hours.
This was one of the first experiences that had ME question MYSELF! Was I communicating properly? Why was SHE complaining, after all wasn’t it MY birthday?!
She actually took it as a personal attack. I felt dizzy. My birthday, and she was offended?
Also this was one of the first times I tried to have a logical conversation as to why SHE was upset. It just did not matter. She could not ‘hear’ me.
Crazy-making at it’s best.
Was looking for something and found this instead. Wish I had known about S4M going into last Christmas. Looking forward to an updated version of this post in the near future Dr. T.
My PDI sister pulled a whopper the Christmas after my oldest sister passed away.There had been a perfectly innocent misunderstanding between the sister who passed and my SIL, not SIL’s fault, just my ill sister took something done with good intentions the wrong way. Well, other sister took that and ran with it, and the next Christmas she refused to come to the Christmas gathering we have every year if “SIL was going to show up”. For once my parents didn’t defend her, even with their blinders on they could see she was just trying to keep the drama alive.
It was one of the best Christmases I can remember in a long time, although it was bittersweet without the sister who we all loved dearly who passed. We all had a nice time, including SIL. 🙂