The final six weeks of the year, are an emotionally charged period for many of my clients and myself. The amped up messages in advertising and media about family, connection, shared memories – can all be triggering for cycle breakers – those of us who have chosen to break against unhealthy familial patterns in the name of our own sanity.
The time of year was magical in my early childhood. My favorite time of year. I was the first and only grandchild on both sides – so you can imagine the abundance of presents and general attention I received. Holidays were predictable: gatherings of the same people, with the same food, stories, laughter and cheer. The weeks of anticipation and excitement always came to fruition.
It has been four years since I cut contact with my father’s family. Initially, I thought with each passing year the pain would become less intense. In actuality, it’s been the other way around: with each passing year, the knife wound to my heart feels a little deeper. That these people, my family, are so attached to their shit and their lies, they will forever choose that over my presence. It hits on my big core wound of I will never be worth truly loving. The dialectic – just because it’s painful, doesn’t mean it’s not 100% the right choice for my mental health. I will choose grief over lies and cognitive dissonance any day of the week. I know how to move through grief. What they have chosen is inertia – the safety and comfort of the toxic known.
As a child, I always assumed these multigenerational gatherings would continue throughout my adulthood. Now that there is no longer a default (this is just what our family does on thanksgiving) it requires me to live with more intentionality and alignment. I have chosen not to participate in that which does me harm. And (another dialectic) I also still need to participate in connection, trust, shared memories because that is the benefit we are intended to reap from these days.
If you’re struggling with the sadness of letting go in the name of self preservation, I encourage you to begin the process of creating your own holiday traditions. Observing those cues of the holidays that still bring a spark to your inner child and creating new customs around them. Returning the sense of wonder and anticipation to this time of year, on your own terms.
I also encourage you to honor your grief. Find a way to carve out some space for it – whether thats journaling, meditation, therapy/coaching, a restorative yoga class or just taking a few minutes for a good old fashioned cry in the closet. I think a lot of us buy into the conditioning that this is a time of year only for positive emotions. Grief gains power when we stuff it down and try to pretend like it’s not there. Giving it space allows us to move through it, to release it and open ourselves up for new possibilities.
Happy Thanksgiving Y’all!
Wishing everyone a week of peace, connection and health.
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