The holiday season can be especially triggering for those who come from a relational trauma background and/or those who have a strained, estranged relationship with their (or their partner’s) family-of-origin.
It’s not uncommon to dislike (or even hate) the holidays due to these reasons. Many people experience these feelings of dread around this time of year.
If this sounds like you, here are some reminders to consider as the holiday season gets closer.
1. It’s okay if you hate the holidays.
Your feelings around the holidays are likely rooted in very valid reasons. When you start to shame yourself, or if others start to “guilt you” for not liking the holidays more, please try to remember that your experience is valid no matter how it looks and you get to feel exactly how you feel about this time of year.
2. Holidays centered around family gatherings can evoke complex emotions.
It’s very common to experience a wide range of emotions during this time of the year. Your feelings about the holidays don’t have to be either/or, they can be both/and. For example, you can feel grief and joy at the same time. And that’s okay.
3. You have choice around how you spend the holidays.
Think about what you need this time of the year. Do you want to skip the celebrations altogether? Do you want to buy a tree and send cards to your best friends? Part of the beauty of being an adult is you have choice about how you would like to spend your time. That means you get to craft your life exactly as you would like it to be (within reason) and this means, too, that you can spend the holidays however you want. There is no one right way to be with this time of year.
4. This time of the year gives you a great opportunity to consider the boundaries you have in place and boundaries you may need to set.
As you think about how you would like to spend the holidays, pay close attention to what you’re unwilling to do and who you are not interested in spending time with. This is a great opportunity to set boundaries with this person and the actions around spending time with them.
5. You are not alone in disliking the holiday season.
When you really dislike the holidays, when you feel alone in dreading them or like the only one of your friends who feels sick to their stomach heading back to your childhood home over the break, it’s easy to feel lonely and somehow odd or different that you are having this experience. The reality is many people dislike or dread the holidays. You are not alone in your experience.
6. This holiday season may not feel the same as next year or even the year after that.
Just because the holidays have felt in the past and are, at present, painful, doesn’t mean they will always feel this way. We never know what the future may hold. This time of year could feel different and better for you sometime in the future.
7. Self-Care is so important during this season.
Please make whatever choices you can to take care of yourself during these difficult times. When the rest of the world is full of holiday cheer and you feel alone in your painful experience, it is harder to bear. So please be kind to yourself in whatever way this looks – holding the boundaries you need, acknowledging or ignoring the season, re-writing your experience, and fundamentally, taking good care of your physical and mental health as best you can.
We hope these reminders help you as you journey through this difficult season. If you need more support, outside of what this post can offer, please reach out to us so we can be of support to you. We are here for you. Feel free to schedule a complimentary 20-minute consult call with our clinical intake coordinator to see if therapy is the right fit for you.