Surviving the holidays

charliebrown

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.

CHARLIE BROWN TRIES TO PERK UP THE FORLORN LITTLE CHRISTMAS TREE

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?

snoopycharliebrown

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.

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About luckyotter

Recovering from BPD and C-PTSD due to narcissistic abuse from childhood. Married to a sociopath for 20 years. Proud INFJ, Enneagram type 4w5. Animal lover, music lover, cat mom, unapologetic geek, fan of the absurd, progressive Catholic, mom to 2, mental illness stigma activist, anti-Trumper. #RESISTANCE
This entry was posted in "A Charlie Brown Christmas", "No Contact", Aspergers syndrome, charity, Charlie Brown, Christmas, envy, holiday depression, narcissistic abuse, no family, Peanuts, poverty, Seasonal Affective Disorder, surviving the holidays, Thanksgiving and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Surviving the holidays

  1. amommasview says:

    Celebrate with your pets that you don’t have to pretend with your family…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Just Plain Ol' Vic says:

    Every think about volunteering somewhere, like a “soup kitchen” that serves meals to less fortunate on Thanksgiving? Might be a good way to give you something to look forward to and put things in perspective?

    Just some food for thought. Take care!

    Liked by 1 person

    • luckyotter says:

      Yes, I did, I even mentioned it. I think it would lift my spirits a little to be able to lift someone else’s spirits. I’m socially awkward though and that has kept me from doing anything that requires socializing. I need to work on that.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. marilynmunrow says:

    Reblogged this on Marilyn Munrow and commented:
    Wonderful blog as usual.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. butchcountry67 says:

    if I only lived closer, my little family and I would be your real time friend, no judgements,no expectations as it should be, as it is we live 1000+ miles away and in a separate country, but I can still be your friend , and again same as above, no judgements no expectations, just be yourself 🙂

    Like

  5. Remember both Thanksgiving and Christmas last only 24 hours each. I have spent many of those days sleeping in and going to a movie. Usually the movies are open. Just keep busy and remember it is only one day. It will pass.

    I like your idea of finding a stranger to feed. But how do you do that? It could be a little risky. Maybe going to the church for a meal would be a good idea. Bring a pie or something that you made and share it with your table.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Oh I have a hard time with the holidays too. ACONs often do and then Aspies doubly so. Being NC for a year and half in my case, I am still dealing with some triggering emotions when it comes to the holidays, so I feel for you Lucky Otter. I have one of those lives that is more full of solitude too. I have some local friends but most are far away or online. I know I have my husband but the holidays can be a weird time for us. On occasion I have a friend invite us in for Thanksgiving which is fun, but we are here together without the huge extensive relatives and others parading through. One thing with holidays that is difficult for me is the whole MONEY thing.

    Sometimes one can find other lonely people to invite in. Keep safety in mind. Maybe invite in acquaintance. I wish your roommate had invited you home with her family. I wouldn’t feel bad about the church meal. If there was one on Thanksgiving around here I may have had both of us go. I missed an earlier church dinner and went to a soup kitchen community dinner today. Could you ask one of your kids next year to have you come over or spend it with them?

    Many of those people may have had the normal Thanksgivings once upon a time. Yes watching it all feeling like you are not the normal person with the big family, or the nice presents to give can be depressing. I feel that envy too. Why isn’t that me? I have a hard time with this time of year. I would cook a small turkey for one or do the church thing. Some people volunteer at the soup kitchen to get through the day too. I don’t celebrate Christmas, a decision I came to many years ago. I am not a Jehovah Witness but there are born again Christians who do not celebrate it. It took some stress off me too even for non-religious reasons. I never could afford it. I had made everyone paintings for years. I do send holiday cards–hey New Years is in there, to say hello to others. If I ever came into any money, I would buy friends some very overdue gifts and give it to them on a non-holiday. I want to fast forward to March 1st to skip the cold.

    Liked by 1 person

    • luckyotter says:

      Unfortunately, Christmas has become ridiculously overcommercialized and most of the trappings of it has little if anything to do with Jesus Christ’s birth. It’s the perfect narcissist holiday where people can show off to their families and play a game of one upmanship as to who gives the most expensive presents. Greed is rampant and companies rake in the dough. The holidays are also a time for a lot of family drama.

      I get angry when some Christians pass judgment on those who refuse to celebrate Christmas, because it’s not the religious implications people who don’t celebrate are objecting to, but the crass orgy of commercialism it’s become. It makes sense to opt out when you can’t participate the way society expects you to. There are other , much simpler ways to celebrate the holidays, and spending it alone isn’t even the worst thing in the world. I’m definitely considering doing something charitable or volunteering in some way. I really like the idea of taking some lonely soul out for dinner (I wouldn’t invite them to my house though, that might be too dangerous!)

      Like

  7. the holidays are a difficult time of year, since even family dynamics can be challenging. I like how you used “A Charlie Brown Christmas” to illustrate your blog post. I see that you chose to end on a positive note by placing the picture of Charlie Brown with his beautiful tree. I grew up watching that show every year and always see the hope of its message. The sad little tree that Charlie thinks he “killed” ends up being something glorious when it gets a little attention. Even if you choose to stay home for the holidays with yourself, your blog brings light, awareness and hope to many people! You give to us all who follow your blog ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • luckyotter says:

      It makes me feel so great when I read a comment like yours. More than anything else, I want my blog to be a source of hope for others who suffer from psychopathic and narcissistic abuse. So when I get a comment from someone who said it helped them, it really makes my day!

      “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is one of my favorite holiday programs, not only because I love the peanuts characters, but because of it’s simple and yet profound message of hope.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Do it! Volunteering is a good idea! That is what I am doing Thanksgiving Day. I made plans in September so I wouldn’t be left with nothing to do. I am also going to three concerts over the next month! One of the concerts I will attend with the HSP group. I went no contact (again!) with my mother in August and this will be my first holidays alone in five years. It’s tough.

    Pets are a great comfort!! I wish I had a cat.

    I dread being asked by other people what I am doing for the holidays and if I will see my family. How do you handle that question without sounding like a bad person?

    Liked by 1 person

    • luckyotter says:

      That sounds like a wonderful plan!

      I really dread that question too. No matter what you say it sounds awkward. Usually I just tell people my relatives live far away (this is actually true) and then change the subject.

      Like

      • I would probably try to change the subject, too. I have no excuse because my parents and sisters live 90 miles away and another sister lives over the bridge from me! The holidays were so bad last year and I never want to put myself in that situation again, so I have decided to do what will make me feel good.

        Make yourself something nice, something holiday-ish! I made pumpkin pudding for myself and it was so good I’m going to make it again this week.

        It looks like you have a lot of supporters on this blog, too. I know it’s not the same as what the people you envy have. I’m trying not to feel that way and just appreciate what I have in my life that is good. I try to think about why I have been put in this situation and how I can learn and grow from it. When I look for the truth within, it brings me peace. I understand where you are coming from when you say that you avoid social situations because you are awkward in them — I am, too, but I have found that a little practice doesn’t hurt 😉 You seem like a good person, so you shouldn’t worry too much.

        Like

  9. Trey Willis says:

    Why not use the Thanksgiving meal your church is having as an opportunity to volunteer? You get out of the house, have a semi-non-threatening way to meet people there, help people out, and still get a plate of turkey and gravy at the end!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I am glad you are going to be with your daughter. I was going to say that going to the church might not be too bad. I am thinking about elderly people who may not have any family or be far away from their families as well. They can get very lonely. You would really brighten someone’s day if you spent time with them. We all have these expectations for the holidays. Like Norman Rockwell family sitting around the table. Many people really don’t have that perfection. I don’t think anyone does really. Wishing you Happy Thanksgiving with your daughter.

    Liked by 1 person

    • luckyotter says:

      I think the media and advertising has something to do with the idea that “everyone” has these perfect, Norman Rockwell like families where everyone loves everyone else and there is no dysfunction.
      Even among the people I know who have large extended families who get together for holidays, there is always some sort of drama going on, or there is one or more people who don’t fit in or don’t feel comfortable.
      Not all families have narcs, of course. Narcissism runs in families (like mine), it’s inherited just as diabetes or alcoholism is inherited. I have to keep reminding myself that there is a gene in our family that causes this sickness, and it’s not anything personal really. I’m much better off being out of contact with them than dealing with their sickness at family get togethers. My daughter is probably a narcissist, but not a malignant one, and I’m looking forward to seeing her and her boyfriend (the first one I actually approve of) on thanksgiving. They are cooking at his place, so for a change I won’t have to spend an hour washing dishes!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. ally1lakeside says:

    Reblogged this on ally1lakeside.

    Like

  12. luckyotter says:

    Reblogged this on Lucky Otter's Haven and commented:

    Ugh. It seems to be that time again. Now tht Halloween’s over, all the Christmas decorations are going up. What happened to Thanksgiving? Does anyone care about it anymore? Oh, that’s right–everyone’s rushing out after eating to be the first in line at the stores for Black Friday deals. 🙄
    Anyway, I thought it was time to post this again.

    Like

  13. Shari Staten says:

    I couldn’t help but empathize with your holiday melancholia here. I can relate on almost every level how holidays make you feel because I find myself in the same boat. Instead of perpetually kicking myself about the absence of family around holidays that are considered “family time,” I think of my family and realize how much more the holiday’s would suck with the toxic words and actions of those that are supposed to love me being shot at me like Merida’s arrow in Brave. Thanks for re-posting this. Our stories are only unique in that the households were different. Btw, I don’t shop for Christmas anymore. I give throughout the year when I can. I feel like that’s enough…:-)

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  14. mothererased says:

    It seems unfortunate that you do not have a reliable relationship w/ your daughter who lives close. From what you’ve written, I gather that you are far better off with a huge emotional distance/boundaries from your family-of-origin, but you should be able to enjoy some relationship with your own children. Could you offer to cook your daughter and her boyfriend a small dinner and press her to give you a firm answer if she’ll be there or not? But also, the volunteering idea (or eating at the church dinner) both sound like good alternatives!

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