We are wired to connect, so why is it so hard to do during the holidays?
We need our connections and our relationships as much as we need food and water. We yearn for love, for belonging and for safety in our relationships yet it seems so difficult when we are around our families during the holiday period. What is that? The holiday season often brings up emotions from our past. Often our emotions around the holidays are sad, nostalgic and tinged with bittersweet feelings. For example, I miss my dad especially at Christmas, he was a lovely pianoplayer and I miss him playing christmas music. The holidays bring up my love for my dad and the sadness I feel that I will never see him again on earth. I find that I think of him more often at Christmas. Missing him makes me sad and happy at the same time. Our soft spots or our vulnerable emotions often come up for us at this time of year. Sometimes we have trouble coping with the intensity of our feelings. We might even try to numb out those feelings by drinking too much at holiday parties or we get angry or anxious. We often mask our deeper emotions with behaviors and feelings that get us into trouble. Our family is supposed to be our safe place. The place that we can go to heal, to get away from the world, our safe haven. Our family members are supposed to know us, see us, love those special and creative quirks we have. Our family is supposed to be the place that we can be soft and vulnerable and connected. Our family is supported to make what is interesting to us interesting to them and show up for those things. Our family is supposed to have our back and protect us. Well, our families often let us down. Sometimes unwittingly and sometimes through neglect. And worse our families might knowingly throw us under the bus. When this happens, it is terribly difficult to forgive and move on without help. During the holidays we might pick a fight at a family event because we have been hurt by that family member in the past. Most likely, you haven't been able to talk about what happened between us. When coping with past wounds, we need to speak with the person who hurt us, express the pain you are feeling and ask that person to understand that what he or she did, caused you pain. We might explain that we are still carrying that hurt around. Maybe our family member didn't show up for something important to us or he or she didn't have our back in a situation they should have. We might want to say because that person is important to us, their behavior has hurt us. Hopefully our family member can take in and feel our hurt and be able to sincerely apologize. If this happens, and we feel that they finally get how awful it has been for us and we can start to feel forgiveness and move on. When we carry still raw wounds caused by a family member, the holidays can trigger a wave of emotion. Being honest with yourself about what emotions are coming up and why, and resolving to talk about and get through them differently this year is possible. It is difficult to enjoy our holidays if those past hurts haven't been talked about in a soft and forgiving way. Being able to speak about your hurt in a vulnerable and soft way will go further than in an anger and criticism. Healing is truly possible if you and you family member can connect with empathy, forgiveness and an open heart. Healing is the best gift for the Holidays!!