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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  • 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.


  • Ariela

    December 18, 2015 at 10:49 am Reply

    My Narc (my mother), does exactly the same thing, but with my children’s and husband’s birthdays. My children all grown now and really couldn’t care less, but every year, around May timeframe, we would lose contact with her from May – early August. My youngest son’s birthday is in June and my middle son’s is in July. She never wanted to wish them Happy Birthday or God forbid, actually attend a birthday party, so she would just not call for at least three months. Then around early August she would reappear because her birthday is that month, and of course we’re expected to call her regardless. It was really comical to watch and so predictable. I’m currently no contact with her, so this is the first year I have ever not called her or sent a card on her birthday. I hope that was hard for her. LOL!

    • Zari Ballard

      December 25, 2015 at 10:32 pm Reply

      Hi Ariela,

      I hope to hell it was hard for her too! Good for you for sticking to NC. She deserves to have her birthday pass by in complete silence. I hope you had a lovely holiday…my best to you and your family:)

      Zari xo

  • Emily

    December 17, 2015 at 1:55 pm Reply

    Brilliant, I feel so much better reading this. A man who I left my 25 year marriage to and 14 year old daughter to turned around today and said Goodbye. Reading and reading what I need to. Thankyou so so much xx

    • Zari Ballard

      December 18, 2015 at 2:59 am Reply

      Hi Emily,

      I’m sorry for what has happened and, yes, narcissists are famous for doing this. Please try to stay strong and realize that this will happen every year. If they do it once, you can bet money it will happen year after year. There is NOTHING normal about this behavior and no excuse for having done it is ever acceptable. There’s a new year around the corner and we get a clean slate. Think about what you really want in your life and enjoy the silence while you have it.

      Stay strong!

      Zari xo

  • Mitzi

    December 10, 2015 at 12:24 am Reply

    Hi Zari, just discovered your site when googling “Christmas with narcissist”, as I now found myself after nearly 6 years finally alone and completely discarded at Christmas and New Year, having been ignored during most birthdays…mine and his and avoided for months before and after. The hoovering was still going on to date, it is exhausting and although I realised that I was dealing with a malignant narcissist in 2013, I was secretly hoping I was wrong…and then I found your site with the articles about special occasions, birthdays, gifts etc…..; it could have been written by me, even all the comments, so similar it’s saddening. I will keep on reading every day as this Christmas, he finally managed to remove me from all special days in a year, the last standing were those, the only one he has to discard is the holiday, but it would be silly to think I’d have one with him in the future. All else on your site sounds extremely similar…bottom line, I loved, even if he is not capable. bottom line; as unique they think they are and special, reading the stories confirms NPDs all follow a similar pattern, in word, treatment, behavior, application, how sad to note they lack any uniqueness! I cannot state how far the abuse went, broken legs, nose, fingers, teeth etc, verbal to the point of suffering severe PTSD in 2013, would like to extend the experience and maybe will one day, in the meantime, all that is published here has been part of the last 6 years. The main pain is to have lost what I loved and the defamation I suffer now, no cost is spared to make me look nuts, crazy and stupid amongst the people I consider friends and are slowly removing themselves from me believing his words, that is so painful, especially around this time of the year. what can I do….

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