Seas & Greetings! The Holidays are fast approaching so I thought I would create this handy “survival guide” to help you cope with everything from dealing with toxic family, loss, or money problems.
Do you love the holiday season but not the stress that may come along with it? Does family drama seem to be the theme at every family gathering? If so then this article is for you.
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My Personal Experience
As a child who grew up in a dysfunctional family system, I dreaded the holidays. My mother suffered from depression that was never acknowledged. So every holiday began with stories about how she missed her mom, and how we were so lucky to have her as a mother.
Then she began to berate and control us by reminding us that we didn’t deserve anything, including her love or affection. We learned how to play loving family by showing fake affection when company would come over for the holidays. Yet there was always tension and anxiety underneath our fake smiles.
If we didn’t perform well, later on, she would scold us for the tension and sad looks on our faces noticed by other family members. I learned very early on not only to hide my true feelings but that there would be consequences if anyone found out just how unhappy we were.
How To Survive The Holidays With Toxic Family
That’s a lot of pressure to put on a child. As a kid, I often dreamed of what it would be like to spend the holidays as a loving family. I often wondered what it was like to have hugs filled with love, not a cold rehearsed hug that was scheduled once all of the family that didn’t live with us arrived.
As an adult, I made the decision that I would no longer be attending any family gatherings period. I decided that my peace of mind and sanity were more important. Besides, I just wanted to be happy and enjoy myself instead of dealing with someone else’s depression.
I have had no contact with my family for almost 5 years. The years of narcissistic control, fighting, and insults has taken it’s toll on my body. I now have to protect my health and sanity due to auto-immune disease. I have the right to remove their access to me, but they don’t think so.
Besides, holidays should be fun! The truth is that you don’t have to attend these dysfunctional family gatherings either. Now I am not telling you to go and cut off your entire family as I did. My reasons for doing so are much more than I can say. I simply choose to love myself and have peace. Something I NEVER had growing up.
No family is perfect, and this is article is not for those who have a loving family.
How To Survive The Holidays
Should you choose to spend the holidays with toxic family remember:
- Set boundaries.
- Practice mindfulness.
- People don’t change.
- Set realistic expectations.
- Limit your time together.
- Have an escape plan.
Should you choose not to attend the family gathering remember:
- Find your own meaning for the holiday.
- Do something that you really enjoy.
- You don’t need to give an explanation.
- You are allowed to set boundaries.
- You are allowed to walk away.
- Surround yourself with those who love you.
If you are hosting a family gathering, you can also uninvite toxic family members. Think of it this way. You spend your time and hard-earned money planning a wonderful holiday, and then someone miserable may come along to ruin it. This is unacceptable!
Life is too short to accept less than you deserve and the truth is, you deserve to have a happy and peaceful holiday celebration. Spend your time with those who really love you instead!
Are you an introvert? If so you may prefer to spend the holidays alone, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I personally do not have children so If I don’t attend get-togethers with friends, I spend the holidays baking and watching my favorite movies.
You may have loved ones that live far away or could be dealing with loss. If so remember to allow yourself to grieve. Don’t cancel the holiday, surround yourself with loved ones and do something special to honor those who are gone.
If you are dealing with money problems, take a good hard look at your finances. You don’t need to impress everyone with expensive gifts if it’s going to hurt your wallet. Stick to your budget, and you’ll be happier plus you can start the new year off with peace of mind instead of debt.
Remember, it’s the thought that counts instead of how much your gift costs. Give your time instead, or do something helpful for someone. You can save tons of money by giving baked goods as gifts. Bake a cake or batch of cookies and give those as a gift instead. People love getting food gifts!
See my easy recipes for Peanut Butter Blossoms & Christmas Sugar Cookies.
I love to spend Christmas Eve baking for my friends and neighbors! I hope you find this article helpful. Thanks for stopping by and remember… You can always escape to the beach!