How do you navigate the holidays with difficult family members?
I’ve recently become aware that my parents are narcissistic (my dad) and codependent (my mom). After trying to set some boundaries, I decided to take a break from them since I couldn’t get anywhere when addressing them. I’m really enjoying this break, but now with the holidays approaching, I’m feeling confused on how to proceed.
I have a 5-year-old who would like to see them, but they refuse to FaceTime during my break (it’s all or nothing). I honestly would like to not address them at all, or spend the holidays with them in any way, or wish them a happy birthday which is also approaching. I know they’ll use this against me later (look, everyone, I told you she was a bad daughter), but at the same time, the thought of contacting them exhausts me.
Any advice? Thanks so much!!
– HoHum Holidays
Holidays can be a particularly difficult time when it comes to coping with family. Especially if there is a narcissist involved in the equation. But here’s the truth – no one’s opinion of you and your life choices matters except your own.
I know it can seem threatening and confusing when you fear that someone might use your boundaries and distance against you, using it as fuel to a fire that you are not a good daughter. But sit down and ask yourself for a moment – why does it matter? Why does their opinion of you matter?
It matters because the toxicity & trauma from when you were growing up has conditioned you to believe that other people’s opinions of you are not only very important, but a valid reflection of your goodness, your worthiness, and your value in this world.
So sit back for a moment and ask yourself – “What’s the worst that would happen if they say ‘look, everyone, I told you she was a bad daughter’. What would happen? What would the worst case scenario be?”. Perhaps you may have a few family members or people in your parent’s community think ill of you. What else? What other fears are lurking there? Do they offer financial support that they might withdraw? Or emotional support?
Chances are that the biggest thing that would happen is that you’d feel guilty and filled with shame for putting yourself first. For asserting that you deserve to have a happy and satisfied life and doing what you need to do to make that happy.
It’s not what they think of you that’s really bothering you. It’s the internalized fears about what you’ll think of yourself.
You see, no one can really make us feel anything. Think about it. If you were on a crowded subway and bumped into someone and they had the opinion of “look, everyone, I told you she was a bad person!” you’d probably brush it right off and go on with your day because you’ve decided that that person’s opinion isn’t valid. But since you decided, probably when you were young, that your parents’ opinions were valid you feel as though when you go against those opinions you’re doing something wrong.
You’re essentially activating the “bad girl” inside of you that fears being punished. The archetypal inner child that fears that if she breaks the rules she’ll be abandoned and never loved by anyone.
Of course, your adult self knows better than this. And lucky for you she can learn new ways of coping and can decondition all of that old toxicity & trauma that’s kept you locked into the cycle of guilt and shame that has kept you replaying the same patterns over and over.
Plus, as yourself this – if you had to choose either them being disappointed with you and feeling guilty about it OR you getting to be happy, relaxed and relieved which is more important? Which is more valuable?
The answer is pretty obvious to me 😉
This month in The Abundance Revolution, we’ll be talking specifically about surviving the holidays with toxic family.
There’s a lot of other aspects to coping with toxic family during the holidays that I’m super excited to teach. Such as how to shape behavior, how to give yourself an escape hatch, how to deal with grief, anxiety, and depression during the holidays, and how to keep your sanity during a season we’ve all been conditioned to put everyone else first.
Join us in The Abundance Revolution Membership. In this membership, you’ll discover how to cultivate inner strength, self-trust, and resilience so that you can finally feel comfortable putting yourself first without feeling selfish. To decondition those old beliefs, heal the inner child, and finally get what you’ve always wanted. And for a limited time, you can try it for only $22.
Anxiety. Fear. Playing Small. Stuckness.
You’re living in a prison of your own making.
It’s time to change that forever.