Dear Dr. Darcy:
Like clockwork, the minute Daylight Savings Time goes away, my mood darkens, and it only gets worse with each passing holiday. My family life is complicated which doesn’t make Thanksgiving or Christmas any easier. I believe I was born into a family of Narcissists – although maybe I’m the Narcissist…sometimes it’s hard for me to tell. My experience in my family is that unless I’m absolutely 100% PERFECT (and by that I mean twisting myself into a pretzel to accommodate every family member’s needs), I’m on their shit list and treated passive-aggressively for the duration of the visit. I just came off of the WORST THANKGSIVING EVER and I’m jumping out of my skin pondering Christmas. Would it be unforgivable if I didn’t go home for the next holiday?
It sounds like any offense is unforgivable in your family. And as far as being a narcissist yourself, you’re not. I’ve never met a true narcissist who had the ability to ponder whether he/she was a narcissist, so by virtue of your ability to self-critique, I’d say you passed the litmus test.
Here’s my attitude about family: If getting along with yours requires you to be someone you’re not, I’d recommend you visit friends or volunteer in a soup kitchen this Christmas. At a certain point in life, the performance gets to be too exhausting, and the currency, which is generally your self-worth, too inequitable.
That said, you have to be willing to accept that it may be unforgivable. You’ve been raised to accommodate your family without question – what you’re considering doing may cause a narcissist injury. Not your problem to fix, just information for you. If you can boycott Christmas with a modicum of detachment, that would be my vote.
Writer’s stats: Female, Bi.