Dealing with Christmas and New Years

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Kizzie

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Dealing with Christmas and New Years
« on: January 07, 2017, 06:35:59 PM »
I was thinking that since we are just through Christmas and New Years, it might be a good time to figure out some ways we can minimize triggers for future Christmas holidays. It may be helpful to come back to this next October.  Here's what I came up with so far; please feel free to add some of your ideas.

  • Make extra appointments with our therapist to support us through this difficult time
  • Keep posting here at OOTS so we are connected with others who understand what we are feeling
  • Go low or no contact with those who traumatize/abuse us during the holidays (or maybe longer)
  • Try and minimize triggers by planning to stay closer to home during the time when Christmas lights, carols, parties and shopping are everywhere.  Perhaps we will stock up on a few good books to read, some favourite foods to eat and look forward to a restful few weeks.  If we can afford it maybe we can go somewhere for a vacation where Christmas is not celebrated.  We might even rent a quiet cabin in the woods away from the hustle and bustle of the holidays.
  • Validate for yourself that Christmas and New Years may be an especially difficult, triggering time for you.  Most people did not grow up with the trauma we did so we cannot compare ourselves to them.  If we are depressed, angry, sad, etc., there is every good reason to feel that way.  We are not feeling sorry for ourselves, we are feeling sorrow for all that we lost/endured in the past.
  • WE can't change the past; we can only process it slowly through therapy and self-help so we should not expect that we will simply "get over it."  We will fiercely defend our right to take whatever time we need to work through the grief and anger.
  • Try to understand and accept that holidays may always be difficult, from mildly to extremely so. We are human and pain and grief are part of our existence.  What we can do is work toward better, healthier and more positive times in the future for ourselves.
  • We can treat Christmas as just another day, not put up a tree or decorations, and not exchange presents, and not feel odd or badly for doings so.
  • We can change the holiday from Christmas to "Time for Me"
« Last Edit: December 11, 2018, 05:26:11 PM by Kizzie »

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woodsgnome

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Re: Getting through Christmas and New Years
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2017, 09:27:17 PM »
Along the lines of Kizzie's last point--"We can change the holiday from Christmas to 'Time for Me'"--that's what I've chosen to do for years. Mind you, it's easier as I've long removed myself from the remnants of the FOO (2 siblings; some other very distant, also cut-off relatives). Plus I live alone in a somewhat isolated area--but still have some minimal social life around the holidays; but I carefully choose those.

For instance, I studiously avoid kids' Christmas pageants--too EF prone as these were a big source of childhood pain growing up in an extreme conservative offshoot of a mainstream church (the mainstreamers, I've found, are really alright and bear almost no resemblance to the sect that 'uses' the denomination's name to look more mainstream). Okay, so that's one practicality; I just don't go where I know it'll feel yucky, and stick to those boundaries.

The other thing I've done for years is study, and enjoy, all the other sources from which so many Christmas 'traditions' arose. Often called 'pagan' (by the churchies, of course; little realizing that the word wasn't as derogatory as they've made it). The behind-the-scenes stories involve a really impressive set of celebrations that mark the time from October to February--not just the commercial/religious harumphs focused only on Deceber 25 as the grand daddy of it all. It's a season, not a day, and there's some incredibly rich folklore, legend, and alternatives to going with what's thrown out for the masses to consume. A lot has been lost just by the transition from a largely rural (pagan) cycle to the urbanized world of today.

For several years, I had a boon companion who shared my yen for alternative holiday observances. Though no longer a pair, we converse  occasionally and those memories of our 'pagan' observances are some of our fondest recollections. Our standard greeting is "Welcom Yule!" (Yule can include what's now called Christmas, but it goes way beyond).

The season" doesn't have to be the standard one with all its guilt-strewn expectations and norms devised by others for you to follow. Nothing against 'em, but if they don't resonate, one can choose not to join the party or, better yet, create one's own take on the season--seasons, really; but I better leave it at that.

Happy Yule! 


« Last Edit: January 07, 2017, 09:52:46 PM by woodsgnome »

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Kizzie

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Re: Getting through Christmas and New Years
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2017, 06:01:42 PM »
Here's a helpful article about reducing stress and managing family  - https://www.beautyafterbruises.org/blog/toxicfamilyholidayguide.

Sneak peek:

We’re only days away from those insistent posts and overbearing nudges from others to revel in the company of family.  Never forget:“Forgive. Love. Cherish!”  But, for an inordinate amount of the population?  Family is anything but merry, warm or inviting.  It’s the source of pain, and loss, abandonment, and grief.  It’s abuse and yelling, belligerence and guilt-tripping.  In countless tiny corners, there will be an adult survivor of child abuse wrestling with themselves, tearing out their insides, trying to decide if they should answer their mother’s text.  Another will have agreed to come to the Christmas dinner only to immediately regret it, and now there's no way out.  Another is dessssperately waiting for their family to invite them — anything to show that maybe they care.  Maybe they weren’t forgotten.  Maybe their family actually wonders if they’re alive or not.  The fact of the matter is that all over this globe are trauma survivors with families that are incredibly toxic.  They are not to be welcomed with open arms.  They will require courage of steel just to share the same room.  And, some shouldn’t even be spoken to, let alone ‘kissed and made up’ with.  Right now, there are survivors everywhere wishing they could have the family others have, and are messily scrambling to figure out how they're even going to be okay.  ...and WHAT on earth they are going to do.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2017, 06:04:35 PM by Kizzie »

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Blueberry

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Re: Getting through Christmas and New Years
« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2017, 02:20:04 PM »
  •   We are not feeling sorry for ourselves, we are feeling sorrow for all that we lost/endured in the past.

Seriously good list, Kizzie! I especially like the one I've quoted. Not just for Christmas /New Year either. Good for the whole year.

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Kizzie

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Re: Getting through Christmas and New Years
« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2017, 06:39:20 PM »
I agree BB, it has done a lot to lift me out of shame throughout the year  :yes:

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silentrhino

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Re: Getting through Christmas and New Years
« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2017, 03:06:10 PM »
Every Christmas I feel very sad.  It starts in November and continues through about January.  I have altered my holidays so that they are less stressful but still I can't get ahead of it.  It is almost like an illness.  I just can't wait for it all to be over but don't want to be a humbug towards others. 

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AncientSoul

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Re: Getting through Christmas and New Years
« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2017, 05:14:26 AM »
I don't know if what I've been doing is right or wrong, and for a long time I have avoided talking about Christmas or being around people I know when Christmas arrives. But it hasn't stopped me from helping as I can, others who may need cheering up or help around Christmas. That part of me is natural, and I will not suppress that.

So this year on this site, I've been telling true events of things that happened of what I did and of what my family did in the past. I did that since I don't want to forget, and I am all that is left of the family who knows those things. I have felt guilty in relating some of those fun stories, but I push away those feelings, to let people know the good and fun things that I have experienced.

All that stands in my way is my sister, but I am close to solving that part of my life. But I do not wish to forget all the good things, because good things exist. And if I am wrong, I hope people here will let me know if I trigger something to make them unhappy. But my selfish part wants to share the good things, as I have no one else to share them with. 

I allowed one person, my sister, to mess with my life. I wish to remember the good and shelve the bad and avoid the bad.

If I have been out of line in sharing the stories of good and fun things, I hope I will be told if it may hurt someone.

AncientSoul

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Libby12

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Re: Getting through Christmas and New Years
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2017, 09:53:24 AM »
I hope that nobody minds if I tell some of my story that revolves around this time of year.  For me, it relates to why I have used many of Kizzies' strategies over the years and how I am now finding Xmas and new year so much better.

Childhood Xmas and new year were awful for me as scapegoat to nm.  Needs no more detail really.

All three of my children were born just before Christmas and it was such an issue for my poor nm. Her Christmas had to be altered to accommodate these pesky births and she didn't like it one bit.

My twins were in hospital over this period. The treatment by the staff that they (and us) for that matter received was verging on cruel and neglectful.   None of that lovely Christmas spirit on the hospital wards that the media feeds us.

We moved house just before Christmas,  with three children under four.  We went to stay with my parents but never made it to Christmas day.  Nm and I had a terrible row on my twins birthday because she refused to acknowledge their birthday as she was too busy preparing for a visit by my GC sisters' prospective in-laws.   In fact,  she was threatening to cancel Christmas as well because she was sooooo busy!  We left and this was the start of LC which, many years later, evolved into NC,  just before Christmas.

Despite being LC for so many years,  I still had the very strong feeling that I could not give my children the birthday and Christmas celebrations that nm and, by extension,  society expected and demanded that I did. It was such a struggle,  year after year.  All of the Christmas events around school were so triggering along with spending Christmas with in-laws who weren't really bothered if we were there or not. All the time putting on a fake happy face to the world.  I was a mess!

A few years ago,  I started to do most of the things suggested by Kizzie.   Avoiding Christmas related situations and activities became easier as my children grew up,  and I started to realise how much better I felt by taking control of my exposure to Christmas.   I stopped trying really,  and as a result,  each of our last four Christmases have got better and better.

These are really excellent strategies to cope with this stressful time of year.  I wish I had read them years ago.   I would have had a sort of permission to let go of nm and society's demands for a perfect Christmas.   I got there in the end but wasted so much time and energy.

New year is still something I refuse to embrace.  It's too painful.   Any ideas would be very welcome.

Thank you for listening. 

Libby

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Blueberry

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Re: Getting through Christmas and New Years
« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2017, 06:50:39 PM »
 :hug: :hug: Libby.

I've never made a big thing of New Year's Eve anyway. I often go to bed before midnight these days. When I was somewhat younger I used to watch the fireworks or sometimes go for dinner  with friends. Or both. But I suppose it's easier to just ignore and go to bed if it's not actually a triggering time?

The new year comes and goes, like any new day comes and goes. Why make a fuss about it? People like to. But we don't have to. If that helps, great! If not, ignore.

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Kizzie

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Re: Getting through Christmas and New Years
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2017, 09:48:59 PM »
:hug: :hug: Libby.
The new year comes and goes, like any new day comes and goes. Why make a fuss about it? People like to. But we don't have to.

 :yeahthat: 

There are probably many more of us there who don't see a reason to fuss than you would imagine Libby.  My little FOC (H and S) are just staying home together, we're going to have a nice supper and have a movie picked out to watch after. We're not going to watch any of the celebrations on TV or news wrap ups of the year - we normally don't anyway, but this year was particularly bad and I can't bear to hear/see everything repeated. 

So Happy Just Another Day or Time for Me Day Libby, I hope you can find what works for you today and tonight!!  Sending many  :hug: :hug: :hug: your way

PS - One thing I did when I had cancer was to save a lock of my hair and my H and I burned it in our backyard chiminea on a beautiful starry night to say goodbye to all the bad cells in my body.  I had  great support group who recommended this and although I was a little doubtful, it was surprisingly powerful.  Seeing my hair burn also helped me see and feel that losing my hair to the chemo was because I was standing up to and fighting the cancer.  Very emotional and I felt like I had some control back over this awful traumatic thing in my life.  Anyway, I just thought I'd mention it and if it resonates perhaps you could print out what you wrote in your post and burn it.  It may help I don't know  :Idunno:
« Last Edit: December 31, 2017, 10:01:06 PM by Kizzie »

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Blueberry

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Re: Getting through Christmas and New Years
« Reply #10 on: January 01, 2018, 10:02:03 PM »
The new year comes and goes, like any new day comes and goes. Why make a fuss about it? People like to. But we don't have to.

Need to swallow my own advice today. I haven't made New Year Resolutions for years, but one thing I have done in the past few years is have an idea where I'd like to head to in the upcoming year. I don't mean geographically. What are my plans, roughly? What are my goals? What are the mini steps that will help me reach those goals? And then write these down. This year? Nada.

Instead I feel chaos and confusion, and just at the thought of taking up two rather physical activities this month I feel exhaustion.

So it's too early. I can find and write my goals, plans, mini steps in a few weeks or even months. Life will go on while I find them. My life will go on too. That feels comforting.

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Kizzie

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Re: Getting through Christmas and New Years
« Reply #11 on: November 26, 2018, 06:11:54 PM »
This article is from 2015, but it popped up on the OOTS Twitter feed today and I thought it would be good to add to this thread -   Managing Holiday Loneliness with Self-Compassion

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Kizzie

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Re: Dealing with Christmas and New Years
« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2018, 05:28:24 PM »
Here's another that popped up on Twitter today - If the Holidays Aren't so Happy.