The holiday season triggers me a lot. And I want to share a few reflections hoping it may make you reflect on some aspect too!
This time of the year got extremely commercialized and it’s ranking the highest in the year in anxiety, depression, and suicidal attempts statistics. This is very shocking yet not surprising…
I face the same emotional and mental obstacles myself, and talking to my clients makes me think why do we even do that to ourselves!!
Anxiety is extremely prevalent and high among the majority of people I interact with. When I ask them what they could do to minimize that they are even afraid to mention because their actions may mean rejection, judgment, being pointed at or seen as unworthy!
This blog is voicing out a lot of situations and examples that may trigger you.
They trigger me to the point that I don’t want to be silent anymore! So I decided to use my voice for the first time for 38 years and speak up!
I hear arguments such as:
Don’t you like giving gifts?
Don’t you like gifting those you love?
It’s just once a year, I’ll survive.
I will just put my head down and do what’s expected of me.
For the sake of peace, I’ll do whatever it needs to be done.
But they expect me to….
I have nothing to say, that person is in charge.
You don’t object against the family’s “traditions”.
… and many more!
Let’s break this down.
When I say “commercialized” I don’t mean that hand-made gifts are better than commercial gifts. What I mean that the VALUES got commercialized, and now it’s not about what you believe in and stand for, but what is expected of you.
- If your way of showing love is not by giving gifts but rather making a delicious meal, why wouldn’t you do that?
- If instead of gifts you decide to get your family involved in some community project, why wouldn’t you do that?
- Why quality time, connection, or playtime is not considered as a gift?
- Also, if gift-giving is so important to you and it indicates that you think of someone when was the last time you bought them a surprise gift or maybe a birthdays gift? When was the last time you send a birthday card to them?
- What if you think of these people throughout a year as much as you pretend to think of them during the holiday season by buying expensive gifts?
Then comes to another major issue – the value of these gifts.
People will judge you every day. They know “exactly” how much you earn, what kind of job you do and that you are wealthy enough to buy decent or even rich gifts. Then you show up with your gifts and you are judged and pointed at anyways because the gifts you brought are not enough.
We feel that we should be buying more expensive gifts because then we would be seen as more worthy. We would be a better uncle or grandma and compared to another uncle or grandma.
- How many kids today value one grandparent over others based on what type of gifts they get?
- How many times we were expecting the wealthier family member to bring better quality or more expensive gifts?
- How many times we know to not expect anything from that other member who just lost their job and they don’t have money and we see them as less worthy of spending even time together?
- What if we would make an effort to spend holiday time without ANY GIFTS?
- How would your Christmas/Holiday evening look like?
- What would you do?
- What value and worth would you attach to the family members you spend it with?
Another important aspect is the boundaries.
Not everyone was raised in beautiful and with no-issues families. Many of us hold onto some kind of traumas from that time. Many of us grew up around codependent or narcissistic parents who never had any relationships with themselves and awareness around their issues.
Yet we arrive at such homes and are expected to suddenly drop all our traumas and past experiences, keep ourselves small to make everyone else happy. The only unhappy person is you!
Trying to set up boundaries by asking to not comment on particular topics or asking about particular things seem to not work during that time. It feels like because of the holiday season and the fact that you see your family once a year you need to shrink and hide and shut up to make the celebrations undisturbed. And in the end, you will be seen as a bad folk – the one who tries the best to keep boundaries at a healthy level.
I haven’t been to my family holidays for the last 8 years. Because I work on creating the healthiest boundaries so that when I visit, I don’t get triggered and I will be respected as I am, with my boundaries.
So far it felt like I was voiceless during that time…
- How many of us are losing voice for just that moment of the year?
- How many of us are having boundaries crossed so abruptly and violently that we no longer can respect ourselves?
- How many of us need to follow the rules that don’t align with what we stand for?
- How many of us need to be quiet?
I believe another and pretty serious issue around holiday time is getting re-traumatized.
We are expected to visit places and people we may have the worst experience with. Someone who abused or traumatized us. Yet at that time we are “expected” to be around these people, without having healthy boundaries set up yet or not enough amount of work done to be able to deal with such triggers.
- How many times did you know that going back to home you grew up in will make you re-traumatized and you will need therapy sessions to come back to your balanced state?
Yet many of us are afraid to say “NO, I can’t do that this year.”
Many of us are not capable of even admit to ourselves that we are not ready and that is OK.
I don’t see anything wrong in refusing to go to the place that caused you a major trauma.
I don’t see anything wrong in refusing to be involved in gift-giving to people who you didn’t forgive yet.
It is not about forced healing or forced forgiving.
It is all about your voice and values, and what you stand for.
It is about your boundaries and choices.
It is about your mental and emotional health.
Don’t be afraid to say now, and change the narratives for yourself.
You don’t need to follow the commercial rules that someone set up in the past.
You set up and create your way of celebrating others and yourself!!!