If you’re divorced from a narcissist, you know that a narcissist can be a bit glitchy, or more glitchy around the holidays. Why? Because they’re entitled to all the attention. How dare Santa or Jesus or gift giving or their own children take the spotlight off them.
MY ex was the glue that held our family together. Especially during the holidays. He LOVED the holidays because he could string lights on the house, bake cookies with the kids, chop down the tallest tree on the Christmas tree farm and receive all the kudos.
He went out of his way to make our holidays exceptional. It wasn’t about wanting us to have a great holiday, though, it was about him looking good during the holidays. And man, alive could he make himself look loving, caring, empathetic and full of the holiday spirit.
It was all an act that came to a stop once we divorced. Divorce forced him into having to embrace the needs of others. His children and their needs and my needs.
We needed him to follow holiday visitation schedules, behave himself at school holiday pageants and act as if he cared about the feelings of others. That didn’t go over well.
The first Christmas after we divorced, he figured out a way to dodge the “giving” spirit and remain the center of attention. He flew to his parent’s home. A home he hadn’t visited in years or expressed an interest in visiting.
He had a GREAT Christmas. His parents fawned over him, his siblings came from far and wide to spend time with him, he went out with old high school friends and even went to Christmas Eve church services with his Mom so she could show him off.
He had promised the kids he’d call them Christmas day, but the call never came. He was so enthralled in all the attention he was getting that he forgot his kids of Christmas day.
His mother was so thrilled about, “Johnny” putting lights on her house for the first time in decades. Good Lord!
Since that first post-divorce Christmas things haven’t gone well for him. Since he can no longer be the center of attention in a positive way, he works overtime trying to be the center of attention in a negative way.
If he isn’t arguing with me about holiday visitation, he doesn’t show up at all for holiday visitation. If he isn’t making demands of how our kids should accept and embrace his mistress (the woman he left us for) during the holidays, he’s berating them for putting ornaments in the wrong spot on his magnificent Christmas tree.
The Grinch has nothing on my ex during the holidays!
Why does he have such a hard time and work overtime trying to ruin our holiday? See below.
Why do Narcissists Always Ruin the Holidays?
1. They Lack Empathy:
One of my favorite things about Christmas is watching the faces of my kids as they open their gifts. I also like giving things to people that I know they wouldn’t dare splurge on for themselves. It brings me a great deal of joy to make other people happy.
When you lack the empathy chip, there is no joy in giving or making others happy. It’s not a behavior narcissist attach any significance to. To them, it seems like a monumental waste of time and money and they feel incredibly put out to have to suffer through such an occasion with people they have no investment in.
The disappearing narcissist doesn’t care that it’s the holidays and that they have hurt their children deeply. These thoughts don’t resonate with them.
When an activity is all about someone else, like a birthday, a promotion, or a graduation, a narcissist will find no value in celebrating another’s achievements or joy (unless of course, they could obtain supply through proxy).
Instead, it will activate feelings of jealousy and envy. Because someone else is being put on that proverbial pedestal and getting the attention that should be theirs, a narcissist will find those encounters intolerable and will seek to avoid them at all costs or ruin them for others.
2. Good Attention, Bad Attention, It’s All Good:
If it can’t be all about them, where they and everyone else gets to bask in their glorious essence, then they will get attention another way and that’s by being an ornery cuss.
If they can get you to feel responsible for their moods, so that you are jumping through hoops they set up to keep their foul mood from infecting your holiday, they’ll like that even more. If it’s not all about them in a good way, they’ll make it all about them in a bad way. Either/Or it makes no difference.
3. They Don’t Do Intimacy, Responsibility or Obligation:
Sharing special occasions breeds the kind of intimacy that a narcissist just can’t handle. It creates expectations that a narcissist doesn’t want you or anyone else to have. With those expectations, comes a responsibility to behave as if they care about what’s best for others.
It means getting closer, which they cannot allow. Their anxiety always gets the better of them, so they’d just as well leave their kids hanging, or start a fight with you, so they don’t have to deal with the anxiety they feel over not being center of attention.
This anxiety makes them incredibly unreliable. When it’s upon them, their primary goal is to alleviate it, which usually means shutting people out or making them miserable. Their anxiety paired with their lack of empathy is a holiday recipe for disaster.
4. They’ve Found Alternate Narcissistic Supply:
I’ve had many clients tell me they’ve had solid plans for the holidays with their narcissists and then find themselves stood up, or on the receiving end of a text, canceling at the last minute. The next thing they know, they see pictures on social media of the narcissist spending the holidays with someone else. They’re devastated and asking – “WTH?”
A good rule of thumb is to always remember that new supply always trumps old supply. A new lover trumps their kids and their kid’s (old supply) needs regardless of what time of the year it is.
New supply turns on the narcissist’s laser focus and obsessive attention. There is no way old supply can compete. It doesn’t mean they’re better – it means they’re newer/unconquered.
So, if your kids get that text on Christmas day, after they’ve made plans and are excited about spending the day with their Dad, this is likely what’s happened.
5. Misery is Their Default Setting:
Miserable people create miserable energy and environments everywhere they go. They are dark people, who project their feelings onto other people. Ruining another’s joy is like a trophy for them. It makes them feel important and powerful.
If they believe the holidays are foolish and irrelevant, they don’t care that they mean something to you. Your opinions are usually irrelevant unless of course, you carry the same opinion as they do.
Only seriously disturbed and twisted people ruin events for other people and suck the joy out of life.
Hoping or expecting a narcissist to go against their nature causes suffering. Know what you’re dealing with, understand the behavior and NEVER expect them to play a role in making the holidays a time of joy and giving.
Love your children, make their holiday experience wonderful and don’t let your narcissistic ex and his behavior dim your spirit.
This article first appeared on DivorcedMoms.com