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Christmas and family issues

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by karinabrown, Dec 14, 2017.

  1. karinabrown

    karinabrown Well known member

    Hi all,

    Is that time of the year again and
    once again i feel stressed.
    Its hard to exactly say why , its a combination of stuff.
    Its a bit suprising cause overall i had a much better year than the year before so me feeling down and stressed is a bit confusing.
    In fact i would be okay when januari would start tomorrow.
    Christmas should be a happy gathering with family but really it feels to me as pressure. My sister invited me and my husband and this was a big surprise cause we hardly get along. The only reason to accept will be the fact that my mother will be there too. Last year the whole christmas ‘thing’ ended in a fight and i spend christmas alone with my husband who i love and he was great : but i was upset and could not enjoy it. Between me and my sisters some sort of childish competition issues (we are all over 40) rise from time to time. And yes i have expressed some feelings in the past but that made things worse
    My mother has also a negative role it this all.
    So now i keep my teeth glenced and hope it will all past soon. At the same time i get angry at myself. And tell myself i should be gratefull my mom is still with us (and Ofcourse i am ) but the whole thing is draining me.
    Like i do not want to spend it with my family and also maybe not without. Talking about ‘the devided mind ‘
    Can anyone relate to this ?
  2. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    I'm fairly confident most, if not all, people can relate to this. For all the undeniable loveiness of the celebration, Christmas is a big, fat crucible of tensions. Especially niggly, deep-rooted family tensions. Lots of people favour alcohol as a way of getting through this but I think humour is better. Laugh at what you can laugh at. Cry when you have to. And keep a bottle of wine handy for those days when you feel like running away.

    In the end it really is just a bunch of people having dinner together and buying each other a gift. No big deal.

    I preserve my sanity by tuning into the sacred elements. Candles, choral music, gentle blessings for the good in my life.

    And wine ;)
  3. karinabrown

    karinabrown Well known member

    Hi plum ,

    Your right about the humor part and for most of this issues that (and indeed wine ) is useally my coping skill too,
    But i do not seem to be able to find
    fun in this, my humor radar is ‘off’’

    Must admit that i do suffer from seasonal sadness ‘ as i call it what pops up in october every year and
    does not go away with a bunch of christmass lights. Hate the empty trees and bad weather. Miss the sun.

    Also christmas is somehow a time when i make up the balance of the year. And the family relationships or more the missing of it hurt me extra. You named ‘blessings’
    and that is it : i want to feel blessed but i do not feel blessed. On wensday we had a funeral and i was so impressed of the family love etc i saw there between the family members that i now feel somehow jealussy. Which i found a useless emotion because i cannot change these certain things. In fact its obvious these are not christmas ‘ problems : but somehow in other months i cope and don’t let it bother me that much. Now : stress and a lot more pain. In facts it makes me hate christmas extra.

    Yeserday i felt relieved just to express my feels here. Appreciate your reply : also good to get some inside on how others deal with it
    Wine is fine !
    butterfly_queen, Lily Rose and plum like this.
  4. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    "Major Holidays" rewards you with 12 points on the Rahe-Holmes Stress Scale towards filling your "reservoir of rage" to overflowing--Happy Holidaze! Hopefully gov. Moonbeam Brown has patched up Oroville Dam this summer so a quarter million people don't need to evacuate again when the rains fall this winter, flooding the kali central valley and his Sacramento palace downstream.
    butterfly_queen and plum like this.
  5. Lainey

    Lainey Well known member

    Dear karinabrown,
    This time of year (which includes major holidays) is also a difficult time for me. I resonate with your statements regarding the negative impact, seemingly brought on by 'seasonal sadness', missing the sun, shorter days (in my locale), bad weather, missing family relationships of my youth, etc., etc. I have also come to a point of 'hating' Christmas.

    As my family of origin has aged, and parents have left this world, family celebrations have changed. We (remaining siblings) no longer feel compelled to gather and have large parties. This has actually been a good thing for most, if not all, of us. My sisters and I meet for a holiday lunch at a restaurant (just yesterday) and exchange (usually) small gifts. (next year no gifts). On the actual holiday our choices of what to do vary. My personal choice is to have a relatively quiet day with my spouse, occasionally we invite a few friends for a simple meal. My adult granddaughters have their own stresses, in dividing their time between their divorced parents, so we do not pressure them for the obligatory visit on the DAY. Doing these low key activities has helped me be less stressed about this time of year. Having issues with TMS pain has lowered my activity level so these changes in holiday events have helped me cope better overall.

    Families put a lot of pressure on one another. Most of us were raised in an environment that fed into the myth of the 'joy of Christmas' and how we need to 'prepare' the perfect setup for our families and friends. A lot of this pressure has fallen on the women of the house, although men get caught up in it as well. Setting boundaries is not easy. TMS reeks of messy boundary issues, so it is important for us to recognize our own mixed emotions about this time of year and try to come away with what is really the best for us, and what will make us happier. Your feelings are valid and play hand-in-hand with your TMS symptoms (whatever they may be). I hope you can find some solace in knowing that you are not alone in these feelings. I actually believe that many, many people suffer with 'winter holiday blues' but feel mandated to carry on as they always have. You can begin to make choices. Over time, changes in place, you may find some happiness in the season.
    butterfly_queen, Lily Rose and plum like this.
  6. karinabrown

    karinabrown Well known member

    Hi Lainey,

    Thanks for your reply its good to know that i am not the only one who is finding this complicated and difficult.
    I find indeed solance in that

    And you are right : i do need to make some choices for myself (and husband ) at this point i am only doubting and teary and grumby. menopause is also messing with my sanity i fear. Maybe that’s why the part where you name the ‘woman in the house’ i can relate. Man suffer too but mostly we decide where and with who we spend Christmas. Somehow this bothers me too. Although i have a great Husband who just tries to make it easy as possible.
    Maybe his not caring where he is going just being fine as long as we are together is somehow confronting me with my own struglle to just ‘be’

    Boundries’ : food for thought ..
    Thanks for your kind words !
    butterfly_queen, Lily Rose and plum like this.
  7. karinabrown

    karinabrown Well known member

    Hi Tom,

    Sadly i only understand the ‘holmes scale ‘ part .. Which i did not know :by the way : 12 points for Christmas : wauw

    The rest of your reply : its not you : its me : ! Its too ‘american ‘ to understand for me i fear
    But Thanks for reply
  8. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    I really understand. This time of year makes me feel blue too and this is why I make an effort to bring as much light (candles) and appreciation for Nature's need to rest (those poor naked trees) as I can. It's not easy and I've had some rough times battling depression recently but my spirit remains strong. That is why I nurture the sacred. Not the religious but a deeper sense of life.

    Going to a funeral can create a whole host of feelings and jealousy is a legitimate one. It's ok to yearn for closeness and connection. True, you cannot change the past or your family but you can create beautiful and intimate relationships with others. I think it is possible to radically transform in this regard. Start with lots and lots of self-compassion.

    And you are blessed. Most people never realise that they can heal and so they live their lives in bitterness. Recovery is hard but it is also redemptive. Maybe you are at a point in your healing where you can work through some stuff, all the sh*t triggered by Christmas, and finally let it go ready to face the next year anew.

    Hugs to you x
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2017
  9. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Only 12? :)
    Jules likes this.
  10. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Beautiful answer Lainey. There is much to reflect on here, in particular the messy boundaries. Such things have caused a flare-up for me in recent days. I appreciate the calm sanity of your words.
    karinabrown likes this.
  11. karinabrown

    karinabrown Well known member

    Dear plum,

    you are right : its time to work threw some sh*t . I was doing much better, but some new pain issues show i need to keep doing ‘the work

    Thank u
    plum likes this.
  12. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Same here my darling.
    Will it ever end? I hope so.

    May we both (may we all) feel relaxed and connected (with ourselves if not others) over the festive period.

    Sending you love and hugs and blessings xxx
  13. Time2be

    Time2be Well known member

    Sending you love and energy. Because this is what we need at Christmas. And with ‘we’ I mean us, who had dysfunctional families and who still experience it as painful to be together with them for longer than some hours. My Christmas strategy since some years: reducing the visit to three days. Having others from family (like aunt and cousins) around for one day. I do not anymore engage in the constant quarrel my parents entertain. Being together with them is like being caught in a hole of dark energy. I need a lots of energy to keep my boundaries and not being drawn into it. Sometimes I am succesful. Sometimes I have a flare. Yes, it still happens. But I don’t blame myself for that. That would make it worse. I accept it and when I drive home it usually vanishes like snow melts.
    The big question for me: why do I visit them? My sister doesn’t. She says she decides when to see them. I feel I can’t do it, leaving them alone, they are 85 amd 82. I know that I don’t owe them anything. But I know that I simply cannot leave them alone at Christmas. I am not seeing them a lot, I am living over thousand kilometers away.
    Anyway, I wish all of us with difficult family relations or even trauma a lots of energy to stay healthy and to stay themselves during the holidays, not giving in to the old patterns! We can do it!
  14. Lainey

    Lainey Well known member

    Hi Time2be
    Even though your parents are 82 and 85, they can manage a Christmas alone, or with others, or with friends. I grew up in a family with very elderly parents. When I was born they were 45 and 51. I have siblings older than your parents and most do well on their own. Holidays should not be horrid-days. You do not need to be their sounding board, or whatever the role is that you have played throughout all of these years. Is there something you would rather be doing on the holidays? Friends, significant others, or simply being alone may be okay. A drive of 1000+ kilometers is NOT insignificant, and possibly a good excuse for you to try something different this year.
    Just my opinion. Whatever you do, stay healthy, do what you need to do. Your sibling has evidently figured out a part of this formula. I wish you well. Let us know how it goes.
    plum likes this.
  15. karinabrown

    karinabrown Well known member

    Hi time2b,

    I can agree with lainey complete : what you discribe as ‘reducing to three days as if this is nothing ‘ seems like a whole lot to me !! This must be exausting if you do not like it for yourself.
    Just a thought. If i would drive that far and my parents would fight all the time i would probably explote. So i admire your patience but this must cost somemuch of yourself ? So maybe also indeed start thinking and acting on your needs
    Learning from these conversations myself too : its like a mirror
    Thank u all for that
    plum likes this.
  16. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thanks to @Tennis Tom's link to the Holmes-Rahe scale I read the stuff on the wiki. This stood out as being especially relevant:

    "Also, many people with TMS/PPD are so estranged from their own needs and feelings that they are genuinely surprised when they recognize the cumulative toll of their suffering. These people are often highly adept at rationalizing why their own needs and feelings should go unmet. The discrepancy between their own self-experience and the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale illuminates how disconnected they are from recognizing the impact of events on their emotional state. The scores do not tell the story; they are footprints that can lead you to the heart of the matter when used correctly."

    This year has been a revelation for me. Many of my problems come from my in-laws. My own family are golden because both my Mum and Dad had rough childhoods in their different ways and they vowed to make things good and better for their own kids. And may God Bless them for all time because they did. So when I stepped into the dysfunctional nest that was my partners family, I reeled. I think I've been reeling off and on for 30 years.

    For great swathes of that time I declared myself AWOL at every given opportunity but when my partners dad died, this slowly and inevitably changed.

    We shoulder too much of the care of his mum. His sisters help too but one has had 2 battles with cancer and the other has just had an operation and is temporarily out of action. His brothers do f*** all.

    His mum can be a manipulative old cow (wow, feels so good to actually say that). She has mellowed with age and she is physically vulnerable now but the emotional damage has been done.

    For the best part of 20 years we've spent Christmas Day with her. I haven't enjoyed it. This year, because of my mum's stroke my dad decided to book a table in a local restaurant and he invited us. I said yes without even asking my partner. I don't do things like that normally but his mother has worn me down this year.

    So I am overjoyed to be spending Christmas with my own family for the first time in ages. Yesterday his mum tells us that she'll be on her own for Christmas Day...and those words from the wiki burned into my mind. It was an interesting 5 minutes. Me and my partner holding eye contact with a million unsaid but mutually understood words passing between us, as a thick ooze of guilt tried to ingratiate itself between the forlorn and emotionally laden words she uttered.

    And I thought "I'm sorry but f*** you."

    I'm so tired of pandering to this woman. It is a classic case of I love her but I don't like her. And why the f*** should I have to traipse through this emotional minefield because I simply want to be with my own family.

    It sounds small but it comes on the back of years and years of days that could have been beautiful being sabotaged. This year my stress levels have been through the roof and I've finally really understood how selfless I have been.

    My boy and I spoke last night and we agreed to enjoy Christmas on it's own terms and then to craft a better, more self-aware future for our selves. I never normally bother with New Years Resolutions but this year is an exception.

    Phew. Feels like I wrote something of a gentle rant there :)

    This forum is such a proving ground. I've learned so much from being here. Thanks to everyone for speaking from the heart and for being so immensely supportive of others here. You are all lightbearers.

    Plum x
    Lily Rose, Ellen, yb44 and 1 other person like this.
  17. karinabrown

    karinabrown Well known member


    Its like someone crawled inside my head today and just wrote my feelings down here..
    From a long distance on the other side of the world. Who said internet is a curse ? Its not : if used well

    The specific details of our lives are different but the feeling is not
    I am not that far in terms of really ‘daring’ to choose
    But you simply said out loud the words i could not find or was still afraid to say out loud : but then about my sister : i love here but i don’t like here
    Its painfull and strangly liberating to admit
    I will eat at her house on christmas day, will not pull the pluck out now , but will
    absolutely take this christmas issue to
    go to ‘the next level in the new year.

    I totally agree on the feelings bout this wiki group. How great it is to speak your mind this free about stuff that matters the most!
    You have made a break tru that is clear. So maybe change my mind about christmas : maybe its good for something : lol
    I laughed so hard when you where secretly cursing at your mother in law ..
    I have thought the same so many times, mine is an old witch who made my life misserable for years. I used to get a migraine on the drive to her house ..

    and now she is in a carehome very deep in dementia. I can look at here and have very dark mean thoughts which really are bad but to be really honest i am hardly ashamed. Once i thought : Yes Karma is a bitch ‘ .. at the same time felt bad about myself.

    I think its time to have the same sort of talk you had : With ‘my boy
    so far i have been just upset angry and tearful and this hasn’t brought on the best conversations.
    Thanks for the honesty and the kind words !
    Lily Rose and plum like this.
  18. Lainey

    Lainey Well known member

    Dear Plum
    The holidays bring up so much. So much stock is put in 'celebrating', yet the celebration often has a hollow ring. As children, many of us have some fond memories of a holiday or two, yet, these good memories are often target of the darker elements from which we grew. Your dad sounds like a gem. Dinner/lunch (whichever) in a restaurant sounds like a wonderful way to spend time with your family. You have been supporting your beloved man for many years. Allowing his guilt (possibly) to become your journey has not been healthy for you or him. Yet, breaking away from a controlling mum is not easy either...particularly during a so-called "obligatory' holiday. This will be a good journey for you both. Do not hesitate to smile, to laugh, and to revel in your new found understanding. 'set your course, keep it going' Your obligation as a couple is to one another. Good luck in your newly found resolution to one another.
    Lily Rose, Ellen, plum and 1 other person like this.
  19. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Plum, thanks for the shout out about the Holmes-Rahe, glad it clicked for you for this Holidaze season, Dr. Sarno refers to the H-R events scale in his books. I've referred to it many times here, to me it's the "scientific evidence" behind the Good Doctor's TMS theory, that the TMS deniers keep demanding. I agree "holidays" get a rather low rating, only 12 points, below many other stress filled life events--maybe all the food and booze surrounding the holidaze cushions their impact. "Moderne science" demands test-tube evidence for proof, but most of us don't live our lives out in university labs observed through one way mirrors by clinicians. Maybe we could submit blood and urine samples to psych labs to study the effects of eggnog, cranberries, fruit-cake, giblet gravy, and Honey Baked ham on thyroids, hormonal releases, and polyneuropeptide chains. It's probably difficult for dispassionate scientific white-coat clinicians to warm-up to something like TMS which requires some passion and a sense of humor to laugh-off the tricks the TMS gremlin attempts to play on us.
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2017
    plum and karinabrown like this.
  20. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Karina, kudos to you for starting this thread and enabling others to unknot some of their own issues as a result. I'm grateful for our connection and that we've been able to find some dark humour in the madness. I hope you are able to find some joy over Christmas even if that comes from thinking "this is the last time. Next year will be better."

    Karma is a bitch :)
    So true.

    Here's to healing what we can heal and lovingly letting go of what we can't.
    Lainey and karinabrown like this.

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