Loneliness is difficult at the best of times, but during the holidays, being alone can be excruciating for those attempting to put their lives back together. Going No Contact with toxic friends and family members is often a part of the healing process, while one learns who they want in their front row, who they need to remove and how to create and enforce healthy boundaries, with those that are left.
Many people adopt the strategy of Low Contact. This is a method of dealing with toxic people on a limited basis, saved for holidays and special events. It allows you to be included in the big moments, while keeping your involvement with people, you’d rather not associate with, at a very low and manageable limit.
The key to low contact is to keep your distance both physically and emotionally. Toxic people will always try to push your buttons, especially if they notice you’re keeping your distance. Expect to have to deal with them in some capacity. Keep in mind that there is a difference between acknowledging someone and divulging your deepest and darkest secrets.
When you’re face to face with someone that you’ve cut out of your life, and they’re putting on their nice face, to slip back into the familiar role of lulling you into the belief that you can confide and trust them, remember that you can never forget who they are and why you had to take such drastic steps to protect your sanity.
You don’t have to be obvious or rude, but you do have to protect yourself, so be mindful of what they’ve done in the past and behave accordingly.
This means that you do not trust them with your secrets, you don’t have to tell them what you’re up to, what your plans are and you especially don’t have to tell them about those things, in your life, that you are worried or concerned about. Remember these are people thrive on using your weaknesses against you. So you give them nothing. Give them the typical athlete response of saying something, while saying nothing at all.
You can be vague. You can say things like, “Everything’s great. We’re all doing great. Thanks for asking. How are you doing?” Narcissists love to talk about themselves so indulge that aspect of their personality, but don’t stick around for the novel. Get the Cliffs Notes version and excuse yourself.
Remember that they are always looking for some tidbit to exploit- GIVE THEM NOTHING.
If a Narcissist knows that you are purposely ignoring them and if you’re on their turf, they may try to gang up on you or get some type of reaction. Expect it and be prepared.
As a recovering Codependent there is a process of healing that one goes through, when it comes to someone purposely trying to hurt them:
- Their words and actions hurt you. You absorb the hurt. It bothers and upset you to no end. You may cry. You may try to prove to them that you’re not all of the horrible things they are claiming you are. You may beg, plead or try to reason with them so that you can gain their esteem.
- You become reactive to their attempts to hurt you. As a Codependent starts to heal, they start to stick up for themselves and they feel the need to lash out at anyone who tries to cause harm. When you’re reactive your behavior maybe over the top, mean and punitive. You will feel that you are justified, considering all that you’ve put up with from them.
- You don’t care. This is the level that you should strive to get to. They try to push your buttons and it has no effect on you. You may even smile at the attempt. You see them for what they are. You’ve reached a level of healing where you no longer seek external validation and you and your self-worth are completely under your control and determined by you alone.
Be vague and noncommittal in your dealings with toxic people. If they try to push your buttons, smile and don’t engage. Say nothing – not because you’re letting them win, but because you don’t care enough about them to engage with them.
Always have your own transportation so that you are not under someone else’s mercy, when it comes to determining when you get to leave.
No Contact – Being Alone
Sometimes being with your family just isn’t possible. All this Christmas cheer can be merciless when you’re all alone. Single parents may be on their off year, as their kids spend the holidays with their other parent or some may choose solitude over spending time with a Narcissistic parent or sibling. Either way you may find yourself alone with nothing to do and if that’s not how you want it, it may really take a toll on you emotionally.
There are always things that you can do to stave off the holiday blues. Here’s a few ideas:
- Hook up with close friends. Friends are the family you choose for yourself and they are certainly not going to let you stay home by yourself. I’m sure they are thinking the more the merrier and are happy to have you. Don’t let yourself think you are being a burden. Real friends will always include you.
- Go on a trip or a spiritual retreat. Yeah but who wants to go away alone? You might be thinking. I do my best thinking when I’m alone and in beautiful places. it let’s you recharge and put things into perspective. If it’s a spiritual retreat you’ll probably run into others in the same boat and you’ll likely be in groups and not alone at all. It’s a great way to make new friends and have new experiences.
- Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen or a Homeless Shelter. This really will put things into perspective for you and allow you to be grateful for what you do have, while at the same time, you’ll get to make a difference and put on smile on the face of someone less fortunate.
- Gather your favorite foods and drinks, stoke up the fireplace and do a movie marathon, or cuddle up under your faux furs and read your book. If you can’t go out or travel, stay in and do some of your favorite things.
Learn to love your own company and get into the habit of practicing self-care, even if it means being alone for the holidays. If you are able to maintain a state of Low Contact, remember to limit your engagement with toxic family members and to not fall pray to their attempts to get under your skin. If you’re not doing what you may want to be doing this year and not with who you may want to be with, it doesn’t mean that that’s going to be what your Christmas’s will be like from now on. It’s one year. It’s better to stay No Contact than to engage with people who are harmful to your well-being. On the plus side, think that with all the money you’ll be saving, you can buy yourself a sweet present, you won’t have a ton of dishes to wash and you’ll get to keep your sanity in tact, to boot!!!!!!!
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