Monday, December 12, 2011

Surviving the Holidays

Collage showing memories of Christmas.

For some of my clients this is the hardest time of the year. At this time we often remember childhood trauma, loss, and disappointment. For some, it is a time of overwhelm, depression, stress, and loneliness. Sometimes, complicated family dynamics and unfinished family business get reopened at what was ‘supposed to’ be a pleasant outing or family dinner. Mothers make the same painful remarks to their adult children, Dads behaviour still creates the same painful reactions and siblings can stir up repressed or what we thought were resolved feelings.
What can we do when old wounds are reopened during the holidays? It is no fun going to a family gathering in your late 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s… and leave feeling like you are still five years old, unappreciated, unsuccessful, and/or unnoticed. Even if we have done work healing childhood wounds, they can still resurface. First, know your wounds. Read Emotional Alchemy and identify your core wounding. It is yours to understand, nurture, befriend, and heal. Working with old wounds can be a path to healing and a way to gain strength and insight. Find a good therapist to help you. Focusing is a good method to use to do this work.
Be proactive. Know your fantasies. Are they to be finally accepted by your sister, listened to by your father and complimented by your mother? Before you leave for a family gathering do a Focusing session, meditation or art exercise with this part of you and let this part of you tell you what it needs. Do not judge or label it, listen to what it is wanting. Be Present for yourself and allow the part of you is be just as it is without asking it to change, grow up or be more realistic. Give it time and space to express itself through art, writing or verbally. This way, this part of you will not arrive at the dinner or party needy or popping out surprising you because you have already spent quality time listening and being with it. You will arrive calmer and less reactive.
Holidays can open up old wounds, fantasies and desires. When you are present for yourself, and give yourself time and space to express how these wounds, fantasies, and desires are alive in you today, you can safely contain, release and let go of the painful reactions and emotions that accompany them.


Ms. said...

Timely. I always think I'm just fine, but every year around this time, I become ill in some way, and crabby, confused and wanting to withdraw from the world, while simultaneously longing for company. I muddle through. It's always best when I get out of town and visit others. Yoga helps, and my garden tasks for getting those bulbs in ground and mulched. Still, it is cyclical, and embedded deep.

Karen Wallace said...

Thank you for this response. I think this is a very complicated time of year and you expressed that complication well. Hugs Karen

Anonymous said...


Good point. Like expectations, I suppose. Very glad to be with my family of choice this year..

Karen Wallace said...

Have a good holiday. Thanks for you comment. Hugs Karen


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