The Not So Perfect Holiday Season

For those of us who don’t have the, “Home,” to go to over the holiday season no worries, you are not alone. There are a vast number of us whose families have been affected by judgments, alcoholism, drug addiction, gossip, death, divorce, or whatever the dysfunction may be. I’d rather be open and honest about family upsets during the holidays than pretend all is well with "happy" pictures on Facebook.

The holiday season can actually be a very painful time, for many, and the pressure to act like, “Oh everything is great,” I believe causes more harm than good. Let’s face it, in every family there is some sort of dysfunction; whether one admits it or not is another story. The ideal during the holidays is suppose to be that of loving family members, engaging with one another, supportive emotionally or at the very least calling one another to say, “Hello.” For some of us, this ideal definitely falls short.

Unfortunately there can be an ever increase in family upset, sadness, criticism, resentment, and simply just plain ole heartbreak during the holidays. For those of us whose families have been broken or have family members that refuse to speak to one another, Thanksgiving and Christmas, is more of a time of, “When will this be over,” rather than, “I’m so excited that it’s here.” Sometimes people forget that others are in a great deal of pain during this time and continued judgments whether from family or friends impales further arrows into an already broken heart.

Recognizing the powerlessness over others during the holidays is a very effective tool to help you get through; whether you will be with family members or not. We are truly powerless over the behavior, judgments, actions, lack of actions, words, etc. of others. This can be a very difficult lesson to learn especially since we have been so brainwashed to think the holidays are suppose to look a certain way. In actuality the holidays are messy, even behind those oh so perfect pictures on Facebook, believe me, someone in there doesn’t like someone or Uncle Bob, for example, is drunk yet again.

It takes something for some of us to get through the holiday season especially if your father doesn’t speak to you or your mother is critical, your husband is cheating or whatever the problem may be. Ironically what can be very sad is that everyone actually wants to get along and wants to feel loved but unfortunately they are lacking tools or apologies or abilities to make it be ok. Then what is worse is when family members use silence as a tool to handle the problems, “Let’s pretend they’re not even there, not call them at all and just forget that they have any feelings whatsoever.” Unfortunately this tactic also slices the soul and it is not fun, let alone very painful. So funny to me how individuals whether family or not can act like they’re perfect, judge and criticize, not to mention gossip, and yet have so easily forgotten their own imperfections. Truly, who is anyone to judge~ anyone? Hence, back to the solution of powerlessness over others; immensely effective for healing rather than perpetuating imagined control and attack.

I once heard in 12-step meeting for family members of alcoholics and drug addicts a beautiful analogy, which actually can be used for any family situation. Imagine yourself inside of a hula-hoop and you are standing there holding it. Everything inside of this hula-hoop is your business; your peace of mind, your serenity, your joy, and your choices, are all yours for the making, even your own concept of God. Nothing and I mean nothing can come into this imaginary circle about you. Then imagine that everything outside of the hula-hoop is God’s business, 100%, (not your business at all) meaning all family members, friends, actions of others, gossip or criticism of others, drinking/drug addiction of others let alone words of others, is all for God to handle. We are truly powerless over everything and everyone outside of our hula-hoop; the only thing you can truly change or alter is you. I once heard the Dalai Lama say in Los Angeles, during a teaching of his I attended, that the epitome of true love is to love someone where they are but most importantly to love someone where they are not. Trying to control, fix, judge, alter, etc. another human being, whether family or friend is a futile practice. It leads nowhere. Surrender, true surrender, of others is the best tool to use for serenity, especially your own.

If you find yourself alone during the holidays, it is ok. There is nothing wrong with you and you have nothing to be ashamed of. If you feel at a loss or not wanting to be upset at family members remember your hula-hoop, let them go, don’t give them your power, and don’t let their judgments affect you. Anything and I mean anything that is outside of your hula-hoop is not your business; just let it go, be gentle on yourself and create a different kind of holiday for you.

Vanessa Guild


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