Experiencing childhood trauma and attachment issues with the family you grew up with is hard enough. This leads to having to work out dysfunctional patterns in future relationships, and often coping with some really difficult negative self beliefs over the years. If that isn’t enough, here comes the holidays!
The holidays are a time that can be extremely triggering for people who have trauma surrounding their family.
It is a reminder that they don’t feel the unconditional love and safety that they see others experiencing with their family around the holidays. It’s a reminder of their grief. It’s a reminder of their trauma. It’s a reminder of their wounded inner child. It’s the reminder of all of our need to be loved and accepted.
So what are some ways that we can feel supported and regulated during the holidays if we have a history of childhood trauma?
Below I’ve listed the top three ways that you can help support yourself and your nervous system this holiday season:
1. Stay in close contact with your chosen family. It’s important that we are staying connected to people that we have chosen in our lives during the holidays whether we are or are not going to spend the holidays with her family of origin. Because if we are going to spend some time during the holiday season with her family of origin, we need that line of communication open with people that we know will not hurt us. If we are not going to spend the holidays with her family of origin, we need a reminder that we do have people in our life that love us and are there to support us so we don’t feel so alone.
2. Remind yourself that you are not alone. One of the core foundations of self compassion is common humanity. What common humanity means is that we are not the only ones that feel the pain that we feel. We have to be careful not to use this to beat ourselves up, as if our problems are less severe than others, but use it to remind ourselves, that we are not alone. We can feel, even more sadness, anger, loneliness, if we feel like our problems, mean that there is just something wrong with us.
3. SET BOUNDARIES. This is probably the most important one. We do not owe our family of origin, our time, energy, emotions, or money. We may choose to show up and spend time with our family of origin but it’s OK to have boundaries around that time. Remember that boundaries are not about controlling other people’s actions but rather what we will do if someone says or does something that we are not OK with. For example, if a family member starts to ask you about some thing that is off-limits and they won’t stop asking then a boundary could be that you will not talk to that person the rest of the night or that you will leave.
I really just want to send anyone who is reading this endless validation and compassion. Holiday seasons are some of the most triggering and difficult times for survivors of childhood trauma and abuse. This time of year doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with you – it just triggers the scars of what has happened to you in the past. It is not proof that you are unlovable, but rather proof of the opposite that you are lovable and sensitive and have a heart that still has the capacity to care.
If you have any more questions about the holidays, childhood trauma, or ptsd therapy please reach out via the Metta Holistic Therapy contact page or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org – if you’re in crisis or an emergency please call 911.