Zina had read enough internet articles to have names for what would happen during the holidays, as it had for as long as she could remember. The bullies and narcissists in her extended family would act out – they’d be critical, mean and nasty, and pretend they were only joking; they’d be gas-lighting; they’d use power overtly; they’d organize flying monkeys.
Her parents would demand that everything be done the way they wanted; even if she did they’d call her disrespectful; the loser child; the one they wished they’d never had; the one they’d cut out of their will. Then they’d relent because they were good, long-suffering people.
Some of the aunts and uncles would get drunk and make inappropriate, sexist comments about the good looking teenage granddaughters. They’d pile on racist and religious comments in all directions. They’d support each other.
Her husband and son would argue and step outside to fight, her daughter-in-law would claim that they should inherit everything, one of her daughters would claim Zina favored the other and, therefore, Zina would never see her grandchildren again. It was chaos and torture labeled as “family.”
Bullies, narcissists forced Zina to face moments of truth during the holidays.
Often, we gather together out of duty and responsibility with people we love but barely like. And they act the way they always have. And we feel like we’re going to explode.
Zina was so frustrated. Over the years all her dreams had been shattered. Not only did she not want to cook for these people, she didn’t even want to spend the holidays with them. She wanted peace and calm, she wanted generous people who cared. She had none of these.
Every year she’d promise herself she’d speak up and then do something. Her values demanded she act. She’d told her children when they were growing up that they should not tolerate bullies and narcissists. But she always held herself back. She’d always run from her moments of truth.
If Zina spoke up she’d be breaking the family.
She’d held herself back because she thought it wouldn’t do any good and if she spoke up she’d be offending many people. Who was she to offend them? If she did, who would take care of her when she was old? If she did she’d be alone.
But this was not the family she wanted. This family dragged her Spirit into the mud and stepped on it.
Everyone had told Zina to rise above it.
If she ever looked hurt or upset, they said she was too sensitive; not understanding and compassionate enough; not loving, caring and giving enough, especially during the holidays. She was arrogant and selfish. She should feel guilty and become a better person. Who was she to put her opinions above the rest of the family?
This year, Zina decided her values and standards were the most important things to her.
She would not let her Spirit be eroded. Her values were more important than the names of the particular relationships, than the pretend family. She would start caring for her Spirit more than their feelings. She knew she was a good person and gave a lot.
She’d hesitated because she was sure they wouldn’t change. Now she decided, while she hoped they would change, that wasn’t most important to her. Most important was stopping people from polluting her life; most important was creating the space she felt truly at home in.
She planned what to say to who about what. She wrote her responses on 3 x 56 cards so she could deliver them calmly and with caring. If bullies and narcissists got insulted and left, that was their problem. She would not apologize.
Being brave and strong in her moments of truth made Zina powerful.
She felt like a coward every time she forced herself to keep silent. All her talking about being Spiritual, about living an honorable life came to a head in these moments. They were moments that showed the truth about what she believed. Would she act or would she be just a passive spectator of her own life?
Zina decided she didn’t need their permission or approval to speak and act.
She didn’t need to be empowered by them. Her Spirit mattered to her. She spoke clear and firm.
She was surprised when many people in the family spoke up in support of her. Many people looked at her with respect and admiration. She saw that the bullies and narcissists were actually small in number. But no one else was willing to risk themselves by speaking.
She became a leader in the family. She started a process of weeding out the toxic, emotional polluters from her family. Only a few resisted and they were soon isolated by all the rest. Holidays became a respite and a treat.
Zina did break the fake family and become part of a family she wanted to be with. And her Spirit soared.
Of course, there are many complications depending on your situation. The best way to learn how to take power in your life and to be the person you want to be is to hire Dr. Ben for personalized coaching and counseling so you can:
Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to be and to act your best resolutely, diligently and effectively.
Develop a plan and master the skills necessary to create the life your spirit has always hungered for.
Since all tactics depend on the situation, call me at 1-877-8Bullies for expert counseling and coaching by phone or Skype.