Narcissists, Holidays, & the Seasonal Discard

narcissist-holidaysWith the holiday season upon us, those in relationships with narcissistic partners will be doing some extra special suffering. Narcissists are legendary holiday buzz killers and, if the narcissist is your partner, you could end up in any one of a number of situations depending upon your place in the narcissistic queue. Yes, as the holidays roll around, it’s time for the narcissist’s seasonal Devalue & Discard (D & D) and those who are the most convenient in the narcissist’s life will likely take the hit. Sound familiar?

Although it’s likely that you already know exactly what I’m talking about,  allow me to share a story or two about my own holiday experiences with a narcissistic partner and let’s see how close I get to hitting the nail on the head about your relationship:

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Almost every year for thirteen years, my ex, the Narcissist, would steadily ramp up the narcissistic chaos and turmoil until around mid-October and then, after creating some ridiculous blow-out,  he’d vanish until somewhere in January or February. Every year without fail for thirteen years. It was the most blatant narcissistic behavior  ever – the D & D before the holidays – and truly the most painful. I can vividly remember spending many of those Christmases cowered under the blankets in my dark bedroom, unable to get out of bed, while my son played with his new toys alone in the living room. He would leave every October for no reason at all, shutting off his phone and vanishing from whatever apartment he was living in, never to return to me until well after the first of the next year….long after the holidays were over. The pain of being abandoned at this time of year, every year, rendered me inconsolable. I never got used to it.

In December 23rd of 2009, after my N had been gone two months and I hadn’t a clue where he was living, I became determined to smoke him out. During “normal”, much shorter silences, I could usually do this with minimal effort but this time time I was stumped. I knew it called for drastic measures.  On a hunch, I used Facebook to send a quasi-anonymous message to the girl that he had cheated on me with the year before. If he was with her this year, the least I could do was make his holiday as miserable as he was making mine. As it turned out, my hunch was spot-on but the result was over-the-top. Within two days, the N, determined to keep me at bay, had me served with a Temporary Restraining Order on Christmas Eve at 8:00pm (an TRO, by the way, that he would break just a few weeks later when he suddenly returned).  When I heard the knock, I actually felt a wave of relief thinking it was him. I remember taking the paper from the Sheriff’s hands, shutting the door, and crumbling to the floor in my hallway, sobbing uncontrollably. No matter how hard I tried, I just could not get this guy to have a heart even though we – my son and I (his “family”, as he would say) – had been by his side for well over a decade.

Now that I think about it, I’m fairly certain that the 2009 Order of Protection was the only Christmas present the N ever gave me!

You see, narcissists are incapable of handling any time of year or any event (birthdays anyone?) where they might be expected to show responsibility and loyalty to the people that care about them. This is not to say that he doesn’t spend the holidays with someone somewhere -because he does. It’s just that he chooses the environment and/or relationship situation that is most self-serving to his seasonal narcissistic needs – whatever those may be – and that is where he’ll spend his time during that part of the year.  A narcissist is seasonal. Without fail.

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To make it work, the N will likely have at least two households where he is able to set up shop during the year – one being for the spring/summer season and the other being for the fall/winter season. Depending on which season he’s in, much of his time will be spent trying to thwart the current girl from finding out about the off-season girl. To eliminate unnecessary hassle, my ex would prepare for his post-holiday discard (from her) and eventual comeback (to me) in advance by getting a new cell number, a new apartment (or no apartment), and a new job (or no job). He would either connect or disconnect various aspects of his life in various combinations to make it happen. He’d make sure he had  everything in order long before he even thought about hoovering

The bottom line is this: when a narcissist comes back to you, he is vanishing from someone else. Of that, you can be sure. Then, when it’s comes time to dump you again, he has to do everything in reverse. The vanishing acts, of course, are also called silent treatments and we’re all familiar with that narcissistic tactic. At some point, it has to stop. At some point, we have to decide how we really want to spend the upcoming new year. Normal people do not act that way – even in the most dysfunctional of relationships. We become so accustomed to the neglect and abuse that we completely forget what “normal” even means.

Yes, the narcissist will ruin every holiday without fail for as long as you allow it. He has no intention of ever doing it differently no matter how he professes that “this Christmas will be different” during your on-season together. A narcissist simply can not keep himself from upping the chaos and turmoil during the events of the year where you or others would most like – or expect – to have his company.  This would include birthdays, anniversaries, births, deaths, and, of course, the festive holiday season. The narcissist’s seasonal D & D is one of his/her most prized strategies for breaking your heart because it never fails to do so. Even if every other narcissistic weapon in his arsenal were to back fire, the narcissist knows there will always be a holiday just around the corner where a disappearance or silent treatment would deliver a foolproof knock-out blow.

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Here’s the deal…our suffering changes nothing. You must remember this!

Don’t let it happen this holiday season. If you’re still in the relationship, the chances are that he will leave. While you can’t control his behavior, you can certainly control your reaction. Let him go and enjoy your holidays. If you’re out of the relationship and having a bit of relationship amnesia about his holiday behavior, let this article be a reminder of what you’re missing and be grateful for every moment that you’re missing it!

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Updated from original post of 10/2014.










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  • Ann

    January 1, 2017 at 6:00 am Reply

    It’s New Year’s Day and I’m being bombarded with my narcissistic husband’s passive aggressive text messages every twenty minutes or so that say “yeah. Sure, enjoy.” You see, my four children (ages 16-22) wanted to play a family game without their father last night. We stayed up laughing while he sat in his cave getting drunk. He heard us laughing and got angry he wasn’t invited. He ruins everything so wasn’t invited on purpose, but now I’m getting the brunt of his anger, threats, and put downs. I can’t ever “win” against his constant barrage of nasty messages. After twenty years of this I can no longer deal. I’m working on getting out. The kids don’t think I’ll do it, but I’m determined this time. My question is: what was I supposed to do last night? I couldn’t invite him because he’d nastily ruin the game (making nasty jokes, underhanded comments and put downs, and criticizing us all), and he was already partially drunk, which means he’d be even more inappropriate. If we hadn’t played, he’d win (because he’s happiest when we’re all miserable), and if we had invited him the kids and I would have been human targets all night (and the kids would be angry at me for inviting him). The game was played on the floor in my room and my husband hasn’t set foot in my room in two years. Why does he suddenly care about being invited? What should I have done?!

    • Zari Ballard

      January 10, 2017 at 4:48 pm Reply

      Hi Ann,

      Well, I’m late getting back to you so I assume the crisis of the family game has likely been replaced by another one, right? LOL The truth is that it just doesn’t matter whether you include him or not in anything because he will always treat everyone the same…so you must do what is best for you and the family. Your children are certainly old enough to handle their own things so I believe it is time for you to call it quits with this guy. After 20 years, the kids are grown…what is left? Save the remainder of your life and go for it. Let me know what you decide and how it is going.

      Stay strong!

      Zari xo

  • foolednomore

    December 10, 2016 at 2:20 pm Reply

    Your articles are so enlightening. I’ve spent over 5 years in a ‘relationship’ with a narcissist but didn’t realize it until I started researching online – Imagine my shock when article after article I found seemed to be written about my very own life with this man! It was as if the authors knew me and new my life, down to tiny details. This happened just a month or so ago now and I’ve been feverishly reading and learning since.

    Your articles on holidays are valuable. Holidays and special occasions had always been very special to me – a time to spend with family and those you love, a time to give and enjoy each other. This jerk has ruined almost every single holiday and special event for the last 5 years.

    That first Thanksgiving; I made an entirely homemade meal with all the trimmings, my grown kids were there waiting to meet my new wonderful friend. He never showed up. Called the next day and just whitewashed over it all despite me being in tears. That Christmas, pretty much the same thing, and later his excuses and ‘geez its not a big deal’.

    I wonder why I went on with this relationship after that first year, but everything I read so far points to all the tactics they use to hook you, to minimize your expectations, and to triangulate to keep you trying so hard to improve and keep him. Make me sick now that I realize all this – I’ve wasted 5 good years of my life.

    In later years, he’s be there for holidays but made them just as miserable – he learned how to keep me from my family as much as possible, tried to pit up against each other, etc. That worked initially, but my deep love for my family burst through eventually and now I’m at the point where I will go enjoy my holiday with my family and he is NO LONGER welcome to come.

    In between holidays and special events – he’s proven to be a prolific cheater, a prolific flirt who hits on even his own clients non-stop. I’ve finally realized that he will never change once I read through so many articles about narcissism. Recently, when I called him out for hitting on a client (who called me to tell me this) he had the gall to say “that isn’t cheating, what is wrong with you? If you think that’s cheating, you are nuts” Classic. No arguing this time, I just told him I didn’t give a shit, do what you want. Threw him for a loop – – – and I quietly started my planning……

    I am planning my ‘escape’ and intend to do this very soon – it takes a lot of planning. Everything I’ve read about how the narc fights dirty, wants his stuff AND your stuff, etc, is all so true and I see it in him. I’ve been working diligently for this past month and I’m almost to the point where I can walk, or shall I say – run.

    I am very excited by the prospect of getting my old life back, my old happy self (after all, he’s turned me into a shell of the person I used to be) back. I can almost taste it. I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I may lose out some on the house we own together – but in my mind, I’m ready to walk away even if it means things will not be left fairly between us – I just want ME back, I want to be done with him and the false life I’ve had for this past 5 years. Possessions are just possessions and can be replaced.

    Keep up the good work with your articles and info – it is greatly appreciated by those of us who didn’t know……..

    • Zari Ballard

      December 13, 2016 at 4:46 pm Reply

      Hi foolednomore,

      Thank you so much for sharing, sister! I pray that you will see your plan of escape through to the end. Be careful to think it too much. The point of escaping is to ESCAPE. Take what is yours and just go. And you don’t have to lose out on the house. He should buy out your half or agree to sell. You seem to have a clear understanding of what he is and that he will always be this way. Better to cut your losses now and run for it. Do not fall for his ruse – you can already predict it! You have a wonderful family that is very important to you. Do NOT allow him to throw any type of monkey wrench into this holiday season. NONE!

      The new year is coming…time to start a new life and the faster you get out of that house, the better. For him, this game will never get old and he will waste your life until the end of time if you allow it. May peace and happiness be with you this holiday season…

      Stay strong and write anytime. We are all here to support you no matter what!

      Zari xo

  • Ley

    November 28, 2016 at 2:13 pm Reply

    Zari, Thank you so much for the insight. I luckily only was in a relationship with the N for just over a year. Still a year too long! I always thought he was a narcissist because he seemed so full of himself and rarely cared about me or my feelings. Then after reading your articles i realized there was so much more to the narcissist personality that was him to a T! i read all of your articles in a couple days and it helped TREMENDOUSLY in my recovery. I broke it off with him immediately when i had concrete evidence he was cheating. Though there were many times before I suspected it or other previous victims tried to warn me. I’m just so glad its over and your articles really helped me recover to where its only been a week of no contact and i feel great. I dont want him back and there is nothing that he could say or do that would change my mind. I do fear having a bad day come up though. But knowing the personality and that there is no chance he will change, makes me feel so much better. Because i know every next girl will just be a new “me”. I wish I could warn future women, but unfortunately that’s not my battle. I just feel for anyone who has been in or is in this type of relationship. It truely drains your soul and spirit and all the good qualities you have. All I can say is i hope karma comes around, because no one should get away with treating others this way. Thank you again so much for your insight. You are spot on and its truely spoken to me and helped me… I’m so greatful for that.

    • Zari Ballard

      December 6, 2016 at 6:08 pm Reply

      Hi Ley,

      Thank you for the kind words. I’m grateful that you found my articles helpful…that’s all I need to hear for inspiration to write more and more! Take care of yourself and stick to your recovery. No one can make it happen but you!

      Zari xo

  • kaleb st.clair

    November 24, 2016 at 6:59 pm Reply

    8 years with my narc and this same exact thing happens .. last year he abandoned in aug and came back in march 3 2016 and he left again this September 15 and not heard anything from him at all .. including our anniversary in October … this makes the 5th year in a row this has happened and it is fucking miserable and I am so angry and hurt because I know he is cheating I have tangible evidence from last discard .. I live in tn and he moved in with a 50 yr old veteran from a homeless shelter and
    Was sleeping with the man and sharing expenses… I have a long e mail from this guy and have spoken with him on phone .. so now he left again and headed to another shelter to hook another easy target .. what a mess .. A loser at its best .. There is so much more to my story but it would take a long time so I focused on the topic and holiday s.. thank u great post and right on target with it … Kaleb

  • Jean

    May 12, 2016 at 6:17 pm Reply

    On a beautiful vacation in Hawaii, my daughter and I are over the moon and so excited for everything this beautiful island (Kauai) has to offer. We went to the beach where HE had fun (thank God), we went ziplining and did some hiking that HE enjoyed; so we were aloud to have fun as well… But, when the day came for the 1-3 hour activity that was hi on my priority list for this trip it was the immediate attitude and the need to go out to eat and take the long way. Let me tell you this; this guy HATES being late, we have to be early for EVERYTHING. But not for this, it was something that didn’t interest him so therefore was un- important and we didn’t get to do it. Well, the second I pointed out that I know what he was doing, and how upset I was… was all My fault and the rest of the day he refused to go to any of the other beaches we all wanted to go to, and pouted in our hotel room while my daughter and I went out and had a blast! It’s just the fact that he was clearly trying to “punish” me for being dissapointed because he was, as always being selfish. I am just now learning after all these years to just carry on with or without him. If this had happened a year or two ago, I would have sat in the hotel room with him and waited for him to declare when I was aloud to have fun again. I have to admit; I was kind of surprised that it took him 3 days into our 6 day vacation to have his first horrible fit… What kind of person goes on vacation to sit and sulk to try to effect the fun of his family? As time goes on it disheartening to realize more and more how pathetic of a human being this guy is. It took me so long to really see what he was all about. Including years of thinking it was me, and that I needed to constantly change to fit his mood…

  • Hayley Kent

    March 21, 2016 at 3:51 pm Reply

    The hardest thing to deal with is after the discard and he flaunts the new woman in front of you telling you he is so happy now with her and his new life. You start to believe that perhaps he is and that perhaps he is now living a better life with her…

  • Hayley Kent

    March 21, 2016 at 3:40 pm Reply

    Hi Zara
    Your book has helped to allow me to make sense of what I was going through for 10yrs. Like so many others I have lost so many years to a Narcissist and that hurts but finally an understanding to what one of these is…
    I like others met this guy at work, a pretty safe place I thought for meeting someone and after just coming out of an abusive marriage he was the answer to my prayers. He treated me like a princess and I felt my prayers had been answered. Before long he was whisking me off on a romantic trip to Paris, although so soon in I witnessed one of his rages over something so trivial followed by a few hours of silent treatment, I didn’t realise this would set the stage for what would be a relationship of gas lighting, silent treatments and abuse and punishments.

    More holidays were booked to far away places, then a new car and then a scene from pretty woman where he would buy me a new wardrobe of clothes, suitcases for all the holidays we would take, the gifts were endless and I worried how he could afford to spend so much on me. Eventually although the weekends away continued the holidays he started to want his mother with us, I never questioned why but now I see she would be there to give him endlesss narcissistic supply whilst behind closed doors he could abuse me, turn his back on me in bed and let his mother witness that it was me who was in the wrong.

    He was so hard to get close to now and at times I felt him pull away, especially if I wasn’t giving him the supply he wanted and criticising him in any way. He started to make me feel paranoid as it felt like there was someone else he was interested in as sexually he was pulling away and making me feel like I wasn’t doing it for him anymore. He preferred masturbation to a loving night in bed together and I felt myself trying hard to hold on. I found him on dating sites and he denied it was him when his picture was starring at me, then woman’s magazines in his car to which he had no knowledge of how they got there. He knew I was starting to not believe his stories and questioning him, behind close doors I was searching at bipolar disorder and abusive relationships just to see if I could find any answers. I thought his childhood where his mum had not been present had made him insecure so I tried hard to love him more and make him trust me.

    My job was taking me on training courses and I dreaded telling him when one was coming up as he had to come and stay in my hotel room wherever I was, he said he was scared of losing me. Although when he stayed he struggled to give me any affection or get close to me. He would phone me constantly if I was in a meeting with a customer saying dont ignore my calls when I ring you answer me (one thing I hate is being ignored). I was jumping through hoops for this guy and the goalposts kept moving.

    I wanted to get away from him but the good days we occasionally shared kept me hooked and I didn’t know what to do. He would abandon me in restaurants, dump me in the middle of town at night, cut me off from my family and friends and allow no contact with anyone on social media. My life was a living hell experience. My nerves were shattered and I was scared and on a roller coaster ride I wanted to get off.

    It was not abnormal to have 40-60 texts per day and if I went missing the same amount of calls, I dreaded going out the door in the end and I gave up everything that gave me pleasure like the gym and anything social. I had to have his approval to go to anything and after he was moody and then further silent treatments were given as punishment.

    I made excuses for him, he had lost endless jobs and got himself involved in PG’s for over 30k he couldn’t pay and even though we were about to buy a house together I questioned so much of his debt when we compared outgoings and our expenses.. I took him to New York to cheer him up and away for weekends as he said he had no money. His debt worried me he always seemed so giving but it was clear to see he had nothing to offer and no equity in his home. Then remortgaged his home twice so he could clear his sons private school fees. His ex marriage had passed that on to him to maintain. The marriage he said he walked away from as he wasn’t happy although his ex wife had, had to get a barrister involved to get away fom him.

    Finally a job offer came for him and he was excited to want to whisk me off on holiday, although yet again his mother had to come with us. The holiday was full of romance although he struggled when I tried to get close to him in bed at night. That was our last holiday together as he pulled the plug when we got home, saying he wasn’t happy and the relationship wasn’t working. Within a matter of months I find a picture of him and his new woman on his football website at a trophy presentation event.

    I am 12 months out of the fog and I had to hit rock bottom before I could understand what had been going on. I now know why he always had so many cuts on his arms and in the light a mass amount of scars to his right arm that he never wanted to talk about. His temper outbursts and his mood swings that changed by the hour and his days full of depression locking himself away not wanting to talk to anyone.

    Thank you to everyone’s story and this book like so many here to make sense of what these people are capable of, I never knew what a narcissist was but feel chosen to have gone through this journey and one out a stronger person. My days are quiet without him but finally a chance to breath and rebuild my life. It’s still early days and at times it feels like it was all a dream……..

    • Zari Ballard

      April 8, 2016 at 6:06 pm Reply

      Hi Hayley,

      I am sorry to not have responded to you sooner but I wanted to say now…thank you for sharing your story. My heart broke reading it but I am so glad that you are away from him. I have to say that bringing the mother on the trips was so bizarre and that your idea about why he did it was spot-on. Still, so strange but typical odd behavior becoming of a narc. Although others see many different kinds of narcs, I only see two – the high-level narcs and the low-level narc – and the only difference between them is money. Other than that, they are exactly the same. Yours had money, mine did not but – man oh man – so much of what you described struck a chord right down to the odd dynamic with his mother, the punishments, the abandonment in restaurants and being dumped on the side of the rode midtown to find my own way home, the texting and jumping through hoops at work in the middle of meetings – OMG. For me, though, sex was the hook…for you, the few good times…all of it mere crumbs of what we truly deserved.

      I wish you nothing but the best and I’m grateful that you still come here to read and post. Stay strong sister and know that your life is all your own now. Make every day Silence Appreciation Day.


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