Adult Children of Alcoholics-Handling Your Codependent Family During The Holidays
The holidays are particularly stressful for most people, let alone ACOA's and those beings who are survivors of emotional abuse and neglect.
In the air hangs the stinky presumption that families should be together, and that merriment should be had by everyone.
Some of us have family members who want to believe that the holidays are a time to let by gone's be by gone's, as if what ever abuse they have dished out in the past should be dismissed. For many of us ACOA's and emotional abuse survivors--these stinky and sticky presumptions that linger about during the holidays--only compound our already enormous loads of guilt. We question ourselves endlessly, once again--as we did as children--wondering if we are the problem. We hear ourselves question, "Maybe its me. Maybe I am just difficult or can't forgive?"
Any ACOA or EAS (emotional abuse survivor) can tell you that part of their recovery work has entailed setting up some type of personal boundaries as well as physical boundaries with others.
We are wounded beings, and many of us still have gaping, oozing wounds we need to heal.
Just because and ACOA has embarked on a recovery program, does not mean they are able to withstand the holiday season without some sense of anxiety. In fact, holidays are an incredible trigger for most of us during the holidays, and it is worth preparing ahead of time for what may happen at the dinner table when all of the dysfunctional members of your life are gathered, as they do their best to pretend they're just like every other happy family.
- Don't allow yourself to slip beneath the veil of denial. It is better to accept that you are spending the holidays with energy vampires--and emotional lions--than it is to pretend the people you love don't have the ability to hurt you. They do--and if we let them--they will.
- Get clear about your personal boundaries. If dad likes to scratch at your wounds, or mom likes to passively aggressively insinuate something she knows is going to get a reaction out of you--accept it--feel it coming--and then calmly state--"I don't want to talk about that."
- If you feel like you are being attacked--even mildly--and that the rabbit hole is imminent-kindly announce that you don't feel well--and that you think it is best that you leave. Then get up and leave.
- If you do leave, exit your home with lots of hugs with a confident tone in your voice, "Oh sorry mom, oh sorry dad--but I feel like I am about to get sick, and I don't want to ruin your holiday meal. Have a wonderful family celebration--I will call you tomorrow."
- If you do leave, then leave with a huge smile on your face as well as your heart--because you just to control over what was in your power to do so--and no one was able to pull you down any rabbit hole, or drain you of your energy. Congratulations! You just learned how to take responsibility for your happiness.
- Put your headphones on and immediately do a meditation of affirmations--or one on staying calm. I will include one below. Breath deeply, and focus on the fact that you took control.
- If you feel like crying--then cry--let it all out...but when you are through--know you took care of you, and that perhaps for the first time in your life, you learned that 'you are the boss of you'.
- Go to bed early and in the morning cook yourself a wonderful holiday breakfast. Light a candle for your table, 'just for you'.
- Journal about your feelings, and your thoughts--and get in touch with the personal power within you that allowed you to set personal boundaries with your family.
- Call a friend or coworker you know accepts you for who you are. Just enjoy the simplicity of the conversation--and dwell on the thought--that if you learn to keep setting boundaries--your life will begin changing for the better--and maybe next year--you'll be surrounded by people who respect your boundaries as well as your soul. And be prepared--you might not be surrounded by the people you think.
This holiday season, know that you're not alone. This is a particularly difficult season for all of us.
But let's not forget--the hype we see and we feel--is generated by economics. The holiday season is about creating profits for retailers--and the extra buzz we feel in the air--and all those presumptions that we cannot help but notice--yep--its all marketing dear ones.
The masses of man are seen as little more than cattle--who have the ability to fuel the cash cow.
Do not fall prey to the subliminal messages that advertises are spewing our stores with. Do not fall under the illusion all the holiday music you are hearing being pumped through every store you stroll through this season. Do not allow invisible or visible forces to dictate your mood--or how you perceive self--or this world any longer.
Wake up dear one...Its all an illusion...
You are the boss of you...
You have the power...
You are loved...