Holidays: The narc's powerplay

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The Inner Light

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Holidays: The narc's powerplay
« on: October 05, 2021, 12:59:42 PM »
Holidays are stressful for me because of my uNPD sister and in my opinion, borderline uNPD father (mother passed away); they both ramp up the guilt and demands for "family connection".  This upcoming Thanksgiving has already started to become a source of drama and guilt tripping but has been made more complex for the following reasons:

  • Covid.  My sister and her family have refused to get vaccinated.  That's their choice; however, it's also our choice not to fraternize in close quarters with them as a result.  My sister says we have no valid argument related to that because our children are in school and therefore are in close quarters with many many people while her and her family are few in number in comparison.
  • Father up until this weekend was fanatically pro-vaccine and it was a huge source of contention between him and my sister.  This last weekend my sister and her family visited and stayed with him and whatever number she did on him, he's now guilting me about not wanting to have Thanksgiving with them.  He did a 180 degree turn and now for whatever reason he's guilting me for not wanting to fraternize with my sister and her family.  Her kids are nearly perpetually sick with something as it is.  She also said she will no longer take her children in for Covid testing when they're sick because it's an inconvenience for her and she says the tests are very inaccurate anyway.
  • Father refused to seek any sort of grief support after my mother died and years later he guilts me about how lonely he is and he expects me and my family to be his emotional support caregivers at his whim.
  • The two of them are ignoring the fact that I still have a mother-in-law who is in a nursing home.  We've decided that we're going to spend Thanksgiving with her either at the nursing home or possibly bring her to our house for a meal.  If we bring her to our house, we won't be telling my father because he'll expect that we start inviting him over to our house for regular meals.  As it stands now as of last night, he texted me to say that we could do Thanksgiving the next day (Friday) at his house.
  • I have serious and lasting CPTSD trauma from my childhood because of those two and I'm actually in trauma therapy in large part because of it including staring EMDR therapy for issues I have in my own life now that carry over from the childhood trauma.
  • I told my sister that their "world" is likely going to get smaller and smaller based on her choice.  She was already complaining that her kids won't be able to participate in a group sport activity they cherish because all kids participating apparently need to be vaccinated.  My sister wants to have everything her way and wants us to capitulate to her non-vaccinated status.
    • I love the holidays with my own family (ie wife and children) in our own home and with my wife's side of the family.  I hate the holidays with my side of the family. 
« Last Edit: October 05, 2021, 01:21:01 PM by The Inner Light »

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thirstywork

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Re: Holidays: The narc's powerplay
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2021, 08:43:14 PM »
I would simply take the vaccine chat off the table altogether.

If you donít want to do thanksgiving, donít. Your trauma is a very good reason not to do it - you donít need to lean on COVID as an excuse. Your trauma is perhaps in reality a much more important and tangible reason. Believe your gut.

When it comes to excuses, it doesnít matter what you say, it will be used against you. You could say you want to see your MIL, but they will find a way to make that seem selfish of you. So I actually wouldnít sweat the excuse itself too much, seeing as it will be used as a way to nicely fit their narrative. In this situation itís usually easier to in fact say as little as possible and try to appear boring.

The most important thing here is that you honour you, and you donít do things you donít want to do.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2021, 12:46:21 PM by Starboard Song »

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The Inner Light

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Re: Holidays: The narc's powerplay
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2021, 11:09:16 PM »
Thank you for your response, thirstywork.  I absolutely agree with you that I have no right to tell her that she should get vaccinated.  I would not pressure her to do so.  I believe that's entirely a personal choice.  By me saying her "world" will likely get smaller, I was not saying in a roundabout way that she should get vaccinated (personal choice), I was pointing out the fact that it may be that there could be mandated restrictions limiting things in ways that were not previously limited.

I see your point in probably wanting to shift focus away from Covid as a reason for our decision not to fraternize with her at this point.  I will not mention my trauma to her because she's a key reason for the trauma in the first place and for that reason and knowing she's a master at manipulation it would be a guaranteed disaster to confront her with that fact.


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thirstywork

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Re: Holidays: The narc's powerplay
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2021, 08:58:58 PM »
Oh absolutely! Thatís the crux of it, a PDíd individual cannot self reflect or admit wrong-doing unless theyíre trying to claim attention by playing the victim, making it disingenuous anyway.
I think itís something that many of us struggle with - wouldnít it be nice to confront them and say ďyou did this to meĒ and for them to have a moment of realisation followed by admitting it which would leave you feeling validated at last! That simply wonít happen, and itís why we need things like therapists and this forum!

Youíre right. In many ways, telling a PD that they hurt you gives them power. They donít see vulnerability, they see weakness, and they will use it to manipulate you or those around you.

I suspect that the less you tell her about your feelings, or even your life or thoughts in general, the better!

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Call Me Cordelia

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Re: Holidays: The narc's powerplay
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2021, 11:39:49 PM »
A very very useful thing I have learned to say is, ďThat doesnít work for me.Ē Whatever the reason. Just, ďThat doesnít work for me.Ē If your relationship is such that any reason you give can and will be used against you, thatís all you need to say.

If there is something that would work for you, you can offer that as an alternative. ďThat doesnít work for me. How about we go to the Christmas light display in the park together? Here are a couple of dates.Ē I obviously just made that up. If you can do that it deflects the conversation from your No to a more positive direction. If what you offer isnít good enough for them, oh well. And if what you can offer is very little or nothing, that is 100% your prerogative. Also no explanation necessary. I agree with thirstywork that the Covid discussion is not productive. I would add to that no need to bring your MIL in to muddy the waters either. Your relationships with them are separate from each other. There is no quid pro quo between sides of the family in my opinion.

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Coyote23

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Re: Holidays: The narc's powerplay
« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2021, 11:00:22 AM »
In my experience, holiday peace is paid with the price of me being the bad guy. In my FOO thereís just no way to skip the gatherings without the people in quest deploying guilt trips, blame, and criticism.

Do it anyway! Or at least , thatís MY path. The work is in managing our feelings while being smeared because we canít manage the people smearing us. We tried. Thatís the FOG.

The peace is worth it. I promise! I refused to spend holidays with my P.D. parents and siblings when my parents were alive, once I realized that boundary setting didnít stop the abuse and once I had children. It was excruciating at times. They all still hate me and demonize me But going to those things would have been so much worse. Iím ok, my parents both even died and Iím still ok that I chose me. You can learn to not accept the guilt. You can stand in your truth. You prefer to be at home. Period. Donít make argument an option. You donít want to be talked out of it. I love ďit doesnít work for usĒ as the last commenter suggested.

You can do this!

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bee well

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Re: Holidays: The narc's powerplay
« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2021, 02:40:18 PM »
Hi,

I am also of the opinion that with certain people the more we  engage/explain/try to reason the more they will try to guilt trip us, whatever justification we offer.

It's hard to accept that whatever we do, there will be a level of discomfort. (Acting in our best interests, vs.  acquiescing out of guilt, and not wanting to be the bad guy).

We might feel badly for cancelling/being the bad guy in their eyes but in my experience what happens when we don't do what we know is right for us a is much much worse discomfort. It can breed resentment and tends to last longer.

I'm with thirstywork when they say the most important thing is to "honour yourself" and, as Coyote 23 says, to  "Do it anyway!"  without apology.

Call Me Cordelia's suggestion of "Saying it doesn't work" and offering an alternative that would be acceptable for you is also a very good one.

If the difficult family members (and your Inner Critic) paint you as the bad guy, you might tell yourself that when you know you are acting honorably and in kindness to self, then you can (even if only eventually) find comfort in your intentions and your strength.

 The Inner Critic might try to rear its ugly head and try to derail you (at least in my experience it does) so you may want to have some positive counter affirmations on hand to repeat, if you don't already. (Again, in my experience, takes practice and could feel strange at first but helps a lot in the long run.)

Whatever you decide is right for you and however it plays out,  I think you are already a a step ahead by thinking first, and not coming from a place of reactivity.

All best to you as you navigate these difficult waters.


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Hilltop

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Re: Holidays: The narc's powerplay
« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2021, 12:44:02 AM »
Hey Inner Light, I have found that engaging and explaining sometimes leads to others feeling the need to criticise my choices or get in an argument about them, use guilt etc.

I would take the vaccination debate off the table.  Its up to your sister whether she wants to vaccinate herself or her kids.  Its up to you to decide how you want to spend time around her. 

For the upcoming holidays I would simply say 'We are having Thanksgiving with MIL'.  Leave it at that.  You don't need to explain why, just say you have plans and that's it.  If they complain about it just ignore.  They can be  upset, just repeat that you have made plans and that's it.  At the end of the day it is reasonable in families to split holidays.   You don't need to explain this to them, you don't need to give any reasons for why you have decided to do this.  If you want you can offer some other activity to do together however if past trauma is an issue perhaps the time apart would help you.

As for your Dad wanting to have a meal the following day you could just say "That doesn't work for us".  It is hard to start saying no but think about what you do want to do and go with that.  If your Dad is wanting a meal with your sister and there are issues with her being unvaccinated, well that may be too much for this year.  It really is ok to skip a year and see how things are next year.  You also don't need to explain all that to them.

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Coyote23

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Re: Holidays: The narc's powerplay
« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2021, 01:21:37 PM »
It really IS that inner critic we need to watch out for. They will stay in your head LONG after the actual people involved have moved on.

Hey Inner Light, I have found that engaging and explaining sometimes leads to others feeling the need to criticise my choices or get in an argument about them, use guilt etc.

I would take the vaccination debate off the table.  Its up to your sister whether she wants to vaccinate herself or her kids.  Its up to you to decide how you want to spend time around her. 

For the upcoming holidays I would simply say 'We are having Thanksgiving with MIL'.  Leave it at that.  You don't need to explain why, just say you have plans and that's it.  If they complain about it just ignore.  They can be  upset, just repeat that you have made plans and that's it.  At the end of the day it is reasonable in families to split holidays.   You don't need to explain this to them, you don't need to give any reasons for why you have decided to do this.  If you want you can offer some other activity to do together however if past trauma is an issue perhaps the time apart would help you.

As for your Dad wanting to have a meal the following day you could just say "That doesn't work for us".  It is hard to start saying no but think about what you do want to do and go with that.  If your Dad is wanting a meal with your sister and there are issues with her being unvaccinated, well that may be too much for this year.  It really is ok to skip a year and see how things are next year.  You also don't need to explain all that to them.

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Olive

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Re: Holidays: The narc's powerplay
« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2021, 08:20:23 PM »
So many good comments.  I think mentioning that your sister's world will get smaller and smaller was a caring thing to say at the time you mentioned it.  It wasn't a demand, accusation, or lecture.   

Don't overthink this.  If someone gets their feathers ruffled, they will smooth out down the road even if it takes forever. You won't feel comfortable at first, but growing is so empowering as you get better.