I relate to Charlie Brown. As a kid, “Peanuts” was my favorite comic strip (I owned all the Peanuts books too), and Charlie Brown was a lot like me–fearful of what others thought of him, frequently bullied and taken advantage of, and often pessimistic. But he also had a good heart, and his faithful dog Snoopy brought joy to his life when he was ready to give up. So I have used some photos from the classic “A Charlie Brown Christmas” in my post.
The holidays are a rough time for many people, but they are especially hard on those of us who have been victims of narcissistic abuse and been cut off (or have gone No Contact) with our families. It sure doesn’t help either that I have SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and become very depressed during the shortest and coldest days of the year.
I have described the way my MN mother has systemically, through triangulation, scapegoating and gaslighting of me as well as making good use of the flying monkeys in her own extended family, has cut me off from all my relatives who I never knew very well anyway. She has even recruited some of the relatives on my father’s side into her evil campaign against me. I am the family embarrassment and black sheep.
Even though I have gone No Contact with my mother and several other family members, I feel I would have been eventually cut off completely from them anyway. I’ve almost certainly been written out of both her and my father’s wills. My mother’s extended family and friends don’t know me; they only believe the vicious lies what she tells them about me–what an ungrateful and selfish daughter I am (and how narcissistic I am too), what a pathetic loser I am (because I’m poor and haven’t achieved a high status career the way they all have), what stupid choices I make, and how emotionally unstable and crazy I am. It’s obvious she’s projecting some of her own character defects onto me (a red flag for narcissism if there ever was one), but knowing this doesn’t make her hateful comments and lies hurt any less–and some of them have a grain of truth–especially the picture she’s painted of me as an impoverished “loser” and that I was always destined to fail (because I was programmed and trained to fail).
It hurts like hell to know how hated I am by my own family. Even as a child I sensed my mother hated me, because I was an exceedingly sensitive child and she could never understand that. She also knew I could see right through her, even when I was a toddler. Knowing that my family hates me has done enormous damage to my self image and crippled me in succeeding in life. I was programmed by her to fail. My being a success would have been a huge danger to her.
Because of my C-PTSD and suspiciousness and lack of trust of others (and due to being naturally introverted), I find it very hard to socialize and make friends because I have so much trouble reading social cues and knowing the right thing to say at the right time (for years, I thought I had Aspergers). It seems that my only social life is on the Internet. I’m afraid to get close to people because I’m afraid they might hate me if they knew me too well. So I spent most of my time alone, reading, blogging, and interacting with my sweet and loyal pets, who never judge me and accept me for who I am. I actually prefer it that way. I relish my time alone, without the stress of having to be “on” in social situations. I’m never really lonely, and I’m free to be myself without fear of judgment.
But the holidays are hard because I am so alone in the world. Thanksgiving is coming up this week, and I’ve made absolutely no plans, because there is no one to make plans with. My only immediate family that has anything to do with me (or are still alive) are my son and daughter. But my son lives several states away and there is no way either he or I can afford to travel to be together, and my daughter has moved in with her boyfriend, and although she says she will be around on Thanksgiving, her word is about as reliable as a Nigerian email scam. She will probably find some excuse to not show up.
It’s very difficult for me to listen to people all around me talk about their big holiday plans–plans that involve boatloads of relatives, extravagant gifts, preparing huge meals for the extended family and their large circles of friends, planning plane or road trips to see beloved family and friends. I admit I envy these people, and really have a hard time dealing with their holiday chatter. It makes me feel so cheated and drives home how unfair life can be. Holiday commercials are even worse, and their images of the idealized, big extended, functional families sitting around a huge table groaning with food while the kids happily open gifts under a 12 foot tree feels like a kick in the teeth. It feels like the universe, or God or whatever, is taunting me:
“This is what everyone else has and you do not. You don’t deserve what they have. Nyah, nyah! Suck it up, loser.”
That’s really what it feels like. And it’s so, so hard. It makes me want to crawl into a large cardboard box and die.
I have a roommate, but she will be with her own family on Thanksgiving, and frankly, she isn’t someone I want to spend much time with. So it looks very likely I will be alone on Thanksgiving. Should I cook a small turkey just for me? I might–just to go through the motions of doing something special, and because I enjoy cooking and baking. I thought of going to the Catholic church I’ve been attending lately for their free Thanksgiving dinner–but that just seems so desperate and pathetic. I can’t help but associate people who go alone to such events as being the rejects of society, those without families or friends to be with. Well, that’s exactly what I am though, isn’t it? What makes me think I’m better than those people? Still, I don’t know if I can bring myself to go.
Christmas will be even worse. I think I’ll just skip Christmas this year. I’ve said that every year though since my kids became adults, and I haven’t skipped it yet. I may put up a small pre-lit tabletop tree from the dollar store. I have an antique mirror I can put behind it to make it appear brighter and bigger. But I don’t know. For me, giving gifts is far more fun than receiving, and Christmas is no fun if you’re too poor to give anything. I can make some of my glass and mirror suncatchers and give those (they were well received last year) or bake cookies and wrap them in attractive packages and inexpensive colorful tins.
Or maybe this can be the year I decide to stop feeling sorry for myself and give someone who is even worse off than me a few hours of joy. I could volunteer at the church, or the soup pantry, or even invite a homeless person or someone with no one to be with out to dinner for Christmas. Even a total stranger! At least I have a home, and a little bit of money; many people don’t even have that. In a week or so I’ll be receiving a several thousand dollar settlement from my daughter’s car accident back in October; I think I should use a little of that money to try to bring some joy into someone’s life who doesn’t have any at all. But will I do it?
The holidays sure are a challenge, and every year I dread them and wish I could just hibernate until spring, but maybe this will be the year I can give to someone else what I don’t have much of myself.