The Holidays are a stressful time for everyone. The pace of life increases with holiday activities surrounding preparation. Concerns around finances can increase. Just the act of doing your daily activities can be made more difficult by the increase in traffic and general holiday hype. However, when you’re estranged from your family for whatever reason, the holidays can be very difficult. Here are a few tips on dealing with the holidays when you’re estranged from your family of origin
Often the things that make a holiday special are the traditions developed over the years. It can be very difficult to remember these special times and know they won’t be happening this year. Some of the sense of loss can be reduced by making the decision to start new traditions. It can be as simple as deciding to cook the dishes you use to enjoy with your family or finding a new way of celebrating decorating the tree. The point is to begin new traditions that revolve around your present support system and develop new holiday celebrations.
If you feel you’ve lost your primary support system because of the estrangement, try making new connections during the holidays by attending church, or volunteering. Groups like co-dependants anonymous and other twelve step groups can be a helpful source of support. Be careful and aware any drug or alcohol issues you may have can be triggered y this time. A therapeutic relationship can help you navigate the difficult time of the holidays successfully and be a source of support. Friends will often be happy to include you in their holiday celebrations. Even though you may be hurting, reach out. Many people find pets to be an immense source of companionship in their lives.
If your estrangement from your family is due to hurtful and perhaps unsolvable events take the time to journal your feelings. Write a letter expressing all you feel about the situation, but don’t mail it. Share it with a friend, minister or therapist instead. Writing can be cathartic and help you get in touch with feelings you need to deal with. Feelings not dealt with don’t go away, they just fester.
Consider forgiveness. Forgiveness is not saying a hurtful event was in anyway alright. Forgiveness is a way to free you. You forgive so you can be free of all the negative feeling and pain of whatever caused your estrangement. Keep in mind that forgiveness is a choice and not a feeling, however, the paradox is that in forgiving you often free yourself of the pain associated with the event. Forgiveness is a process and often takes a lot of time and that’s alright. Take as much time as you need.
Be kind to yourself during the holiday season. If it’s too much to do a big meal for your holiday celebration, buy your turkey already cooked. If you need more sleep allow yourself to have it without coming down on yourself. Although feeling estranged from your family is painful, especially in the holiday season it does get better with time.