The Holidays Are Hard

selective focus photo of red turkey head

Every year it is the same. I dread the end of summer. Finally, I get used to fall. I even begin to enjoy it. I love ginger cookies and homemade stuffing and baggy sweaters and stretchy pants and boots. Stores and QVC and mail order catalogs burst with holiday deals. I like all that. At first. But just about the time I start thinking that the holidays might actually be fun this year, I am hit by this incredible, overwhelming sense of loss and sadness.

We Christians like to declare that Jesus is the reason for the (Christmas) season and that Thanksgiving is all about giving thanks to God…But no matter your religious persuasion: the holidays are all about Family. Family gathering. Family bickering. Family going to church together. Family traveling to see family. Family gift giving. Family. Family. Family.

It becomes nearly impossible to limit the thoughts of my family of origin. The questioning (maybe they weren’t that bad? Maybe they’ve changed? Maybe I should reach out again?) starts up again. The aching feelings of abandonment. The loneliness.

adult art conceptual dark

I believe I have something called trauma bonding. Especially with my mom and to a lesser degree with my dad. Going no contact with them was very, very difficult. It remains difficult. It was also something I knew in my gut that I absolutely had to do if I was going to crawl back from the very dark hole I ended up in after a lifetime of denying the extent of my childhood abuses.

I have made such good progress in climbing out of that hole. But I can still get very low and I don’t like it. So lately I have been researching how to break trauma bonds. According to this article, there are chemical reactions in our brain which can take place automatically due to our feelings of love for another. To quote the article:

Through the process of love, our brain will have many chemical reactions, which take place automatically. Therefore, when we are trying to move past this type of painful relationship, we can reduce the chances of the brain having those reactions (of bonding) by limiting the time around the person with pathological narcissism or psychopathy.

And so the holiday season brings near-constant reminders of family which reminds me of the painful reality of my family situation. As well as constant temptations to forego reality and go back into the fantasy land of pretending that my family of origin isn’t completely toxic.

My therapist tells me I can’t outright call my parents, siblings, and other close relatives ‘narcissists’; or I might get sued…but regardless of what actual pathology they may have, I know I had to go ‘no contact’ in order to save myself and to try and heal. That is the hard reality.

And so, when I see all the obvious signs of Thanksgiving, and Christmas…

dachshund dog wearing a red sweater

I wonder if there are just automatic chemical reactions in my brain which occur. I suspect that the holidays themselves, with the constant reinforcement of family ties, are a bit like having actual contact again with the toxic people I choose to avoid. Because I’ve been doing CBT for years now. I’m containing. I’m reframing. I’m counting my blessings and being thankful for what I do have.

And the holidays are still very, very hard for me.

If anyone else is struggling with loss and the holiday season fuels your feelings of loss, then I feel your pain. Prayers and much love to you. And if I may offer some advice (advice which I am saying to myself as much as to anyone else):

Stay in reality. Don’t slip back into the fantasy that just because there is a turkey and a tree you can have a ‘normal’ time around a table with toxic people. You can’t.

Author: justsaltwriter

I am a writer living in America. A Christian hoping to live up to that name. This is my anonymous blog. I am in recovery from abuse and on this blog I will touch on those topics. I hope to obey Jesus and let my light shine in a world which is growing ever darker.

7 thoughts on “The Holidays Are Hard”

  1. It’s a Blessing to meet you. I truly enjoyed reading this blog. I am a living breathing, walking testimony. My life is a Testimony, I don’t add anythiing nor take anything away from it. I have personally have come a very long way. I came from out of a verbal abuse family. I didn’t think I would every be where I am today. I give Jesus Christ all the Glory. I was a very not so happy childhood. I can write a book about my life. I had started using journal tablets in expressing how I was feeling. It truly had helped me a lot. You continue doing what you have been called to do. Because there are many, many people that can relate to what you have shared here. And there may be many that dont. We live in an un perfect world. But I can say there is HOPE. I’m going to stop here. But I wanted you to know that I can relate. God Bless you and you keep allowing the Holy Spirit to direct your path. ((Hugs)) I say every morning “Today Is The Best Day of My Life ” And truly meant it. 🙂


    1. Oh, thank you so much for reaching out! I appreciate the feedback and the encouragement. Yes, “Jesus Christ still in control!” Love that tag line of yours.
      I am sorry that you can relate because that means you have also dealt with pain in your life from abuse.
      Hugs to you as well. Your comment is so inspiring to me and uplifted my spirits. May God bless you and you as well continue to write as the Holy Spirit guides. It is so helpful and healing to be able to write out my thoughts and journal, I can feel Him heal me the most when I am writing and being honest with Him about it all

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good Bless Morning!! I’m Thankful and Grateful that He is who He Is. A Father that can relate to suffering. He helped me to forgive those who and whom has done evil toward me. I didn’t think I could, but I can. I’m able to move forward, so He can use me. Just as He is using you, and others. We are Working Prosess. He is very patient with us. So you countinue to allow him to do what he has to do. Keep Trusting In Him. keep writing….((Hugs)). Shalom!! Agape!! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I read a lot of Patrick Carnes he originally coined the term “trauma bond” and additionally has done much of his work with sexually abused people including survivors of incest, like myself. He has a vast body of books which are available I have found useful as a resource. Another resource was an unusual one but nonetheless helpful which is H.G Tudor. He is a malignant narcissistic/sociopath. I know I know you say, he has a blog here on WordPress which I found helpful when going no contact. He knows all their tricks from their angle because he has used them. He is in (allegedly) recovery. Take it with a grain of salt. Nonetheless his dissemination of information is sound, practical, and wise. Sam Vatkin’s YouTube videos were also helpful he is a psychiatrist but also a narcissist.

    Girl, I have been through it as I know you have as well. Though our journeys have taken us on different paths I believe we are headed in the same recovery direction.

    I’m always here for you you know. xo 😘

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I will check out the narcissists blog! I haven’t read that much about trauma bonds. CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) has focused mainly on containing and reframing. Which I have found helpful but I can tell something else is going on.
      So years in to recovery and I have only recently heard about trauma bonds!!
      I find it helpful to know ‘why’ things are happening, so I think studying about it will help me a lot.
      There is a blog I love called narcissistssuck (no longer active but still very good!!), found it years ago and it helped me begin the process.
      Just found a guy w YouTube videos that I couldn’t stop watching. He is ex military and seems really bad @$$ so I think you’d like him a lot too:
      Spartan life coach , Richard Gannon.
      Anyway, thank you for the support. Same back at you 😍

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes Richard Grannon has collaborated with Sam Vatkin:

        You can also check out Dana Morningstar she is also on YouTube she rocks!! She got me through some bad times. Tudor and Morningstar have equally helped me as she is the post secondary educated empath and he the malignant narc they both bring something unique to the table

        Liked by 1 person

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