Narcissistic Personality Disorder
People suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder find this time of year particularly stressful and act out in various ways. They have so many masks to wear, they have to remember all their schemes and keep every avenue of their supply happy. They often want to micro-manage every aspect of decorating, baking, gifts, and then tear it apart in a rage. They may stomp around furious that there's not enough money or they may hold lavish parties to impress their friends.
Some Red Flags
Plans to visit someone may be made that you know about and are broken but you weren't told or you make plans and your honey "forgot" them and double booked.
You may suddenly be hosting a last minute party and expected to have all things perfect and better than anyone else's. There may be people your honey insists be on the invite list though you may not even know them and there may be people your honey suddenly strangely doesn't want around.
The tree has to be in a specific spot. If it's plastic, it sucks. You may even be told to buy a new one. If it's live, it's the biggest that your narcissist can ('t) afford. Don't bother arguing over anything with the tree. It's all a power struggle and you'll never win. Don't waste your energy.
There will be arguments over who to see and when. Suddenly people the narcissist hasn't seen all year or even longer will take precedence over a long planned event with friends. Most of the time the long lost friend plan falls through (if it ever existed) and all the arguing was for nothing.
Even keeping a calendar, datebook, computer schedule, and so on will not help you help your narcissist to remember any events that YOU have planned over the holiday season.
You narcissist will likely buy him or herself that expensive present that you saved for all year (and likely already bought) a day or two before Christmas so that you have to now think of something fabulous as a gift because you have nothing better to do.
It might be difficult to buy for a narcissist if they are very fussy. Some just want the gift receipt and will buy what they want. This isn't necessarily a red flag. Some people are hard to buy for.
A narcissist often gives presents revolving around himself such as framed photographs of just him or her.
A narcissist might forget to buy you a present.
A narcissist might spoil your kids rotten to look good. Or they may spoil only their own kids and leave yours out.
There are some narcissists who understand the perfect present to give you so that you'll remain in their supply stable. Other narcissists rarely give personal items of any meaning. If they do, it feels "off" somehow.
Narcissists often have road rage. They will scream at you about not reading the map right if you get lost or miss an exit. If there's car trouble, some will remain calm at first, but at some point, there will be an eruption whether you sit quietly in the car or try to help or do something. Fly under the radar and avoid engaging.
Many of them drink and drive, after all, they are above the law in every other arena of their lives, why not that too? Take a taxi or figure out something. It's not worth the risk. And think of how quiet it will be if your narcissist stomps off without you.
If your narcissist is a problem drinker, hang on to your hat. Pick your battles. Don't engage. Go stay somewhere else if you have to with the kids, holidays or not. You can't help fight his or her demons.
The holiday season is the perfect time for affairs. After all the narcissist has to go shopping several times, unsuccessfully before he or she goes nuts Christmas Eve with frantic real shopping and all-night wrapping instead of being home enjoying the magical night together. Those other trips will be when they buy their own presents for themselves, have affairs, go to strip clubs, attend holiday parties without you, and so on.
They may hide receipts for gifts and credits cards, not because it's a surprise, since you would see them after the fact, but because they've bought items for people you don' t know about.
If you find items, don't say anything. See what happens at the end of all the gift-giving season. If none of the items have shown up or have been mentioned, you know you have a cheater on your hands.
Watch for body language at parties. You may be able to spot potential threats. If you voice your suspicions you'll be met with tears, anger, arguing, resentment, accusations of jealousy, or of cheating yourself. A normal person would not belittle you. A normal person would be horrified that you think he or she doesn't love you especially at this time of year.
New Year's Eve
What kind of New Year's resolution does your narcissist make?
How was that New Year's kiss?
Did you fight New Year's Eve?
The bottom line. Do your best to keep your temper, avoid word games and traps, avoid being sucked into circular arguments. Avoid drinking too much to keep your cool. Keep a journal to prove to yourself that you're not forgetful, you might be experiencing gaslighting. You might be with a narcissist. You might be with someone bi-polar. You might be co-dependent on drama and trauma without even knowing it. Or maybe you're lucky and there's something else going on that explains erratic behaviour.
Dancing in the Gaslight identifies the gaslighter and target. To learn more about narcissists, cheaters, psychopaths, and liars, is to empower ourselves. Once we understand what is really going on, we are better armed to decide how to build ourselves a more proactive life.
Victoria Summit is the author of Dancing in the Gaslight.
Books in the Gaslight Survivor Series
100 Red Flags in Relationships
How Many Lies Are Too Many?
Dancing in the Gaslight