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Posts Tagged ‘holidays with dysfunctional family’

On my blog entry entitled Is Anyone Else Struggling with This Time of Year?, which I wrote on October 8, 2009, a reader recently posted the following comment:

I wanted to respond to this post because this is a huge issue for me. I have been thinking about it a bit now because the holidays are coming up. I think I understand why they bother me so much and maybe it might be a bit of the same for you.

A few years ago I stopped going home for the holidays for obvious reasons. At first it was a huge relief to not have to go to my parents and pretend we are the perfect family. But very quickly the depression and sadness came back. And now the holidays are a HUGE trigger (starting now but getting worse around Halloween). It is because the not being with my family makes me think about all of the reasons I am not home with my family. Consciously or sub-consciously I am reminded of all of the reasons that I do not have the same family holiday as many people I know. Even if I have a boyfriend or friends to share these times with, there are still the constant questions from people about whether or not I am going home for the holidays, ect. My escape from my family is no escape when there are constant perfect family references everywhere. I think for 3 months before Christmas I am a freaking mess.

The freedom of not being with my family is an instant trigger of all of the memories of the things that are the very reason I am not with my family during the holidays- talk about a double edged sword!

I think we are all a bit screwed- putting ourselves around the people who hurt us is obviously hurtful. But choosing to not be around them means we also can’t escape and pretend that all of the reasons we can’t be around them don’t exist since and the holidays are pretty much a 24hr reminder of this.

Do you relate to this at all? ~ Tracy099

My response is yes – I do relate to this. I shared yesterday about getting triggered at the Halloween store over the weekend, and I am still not over it. All last week, life seemed easy and carefree. This long holiday weekend has been a real struggle. I am looking forward to having time alone in my house today (when hub goes back to work and child goes back to school) so I can focus on grounding myself.

I think Tracy makes a very astute observation. We protect ourselves by distancing ourselves from our abusive family, but the very act of distancing ourselves when society does nothing to talk about coming together throughout the holiday season is a constant reminder of the reasons why we are different.

I have done all that I can to ease this for myself. My sister and her children are the only family members that I stay in regular contact with, and they come to my house for the holidays. One the one hand, it is great because my son adores his cousins and I love seeing my sister. However, I am reminded of the family dysfunction whenever I see her (as I am sure is true for her as well), which makes it hard.

The holidays are definitely my Achilles heel, and it ticks me off because I have been doing so well lately. I don’t want to surrender three months of my life every year to holiday triggers (not including the Mother’s Day triggers at a different time of year). I want to reclaim this time and make it about something other than my history. I am not quite sure how to do that yet other than by upping my Xanax dosage.

Photo credit: Rosanne Mooney

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