Holidays can undoubtedly be challenging on a good day and with a family that is NOT dysfunctional. Needless to say, if there is familial dysfunction, that can make holidays particularly difficult. A lot of the work I’ve done ON MYSELF in therapy, has really been about family. I stressed that the work I’ve done in these sessions has been about ME. It is ONLY about my feelings. It is not about the behavior of others, their opinion of me, or changing the past. That’s because I can only change my actions and how I allow what I feel about family to impact me. Coming to that conclusion in therapy has been a game-changer.
When I started going to therapy, a friend asked if I would have to contact people and come to terms with how I believe their behavior impacted me. I told them no because these sessions are about my feelings, not about what transpired or the people involved.
In session 42, we talked a lot about family, as is the norm. That’s because a LOT of things that we talk about in therapy has its foundation in how childhood impacts adulthood. I have a whole lot to unravel on that because I had a very untraditional childhood filled with different levels of trauma and dysfunction.
In a previous post, I discussed how I needed to mourn and grieve the loss of the family I wanted but didn’t get. When growing up, I wanted a real deal mother, and I didn’t get that. I wanted a father that SAW ME, and I didn’t get that. I wanted a sibling that didn’t terrorize me, and I didn’t get that. As an adult, I wanted a family that wasn’t carrying around and passing down generational trauma. These things were impacting my adult life. So, I had to let all of that go. I had to mourn the idea of an ideal family, view it as a loss of what I wanted, and visualize this as a death of sorts.
All of that work came full circle during this Thanksgiving holiday. I had an opportunity to give thought to the treatment of the toxic side of the family versus the loving side of the family. This holiday weekend had me thinking about two family members on opposite sides of the family that I have/had the same relationship with genetically. The contrast in the treatment had a night and day difference. That difference in treatment and love from my auntie, on one side of the family, got me through this holiday.
I am dealing with a loss in so many ways, and it’s equivalent to death in both a literal and figurative way. The mourning when a family member dies is hard but doing so for a family that is still alive is tougher. That’s because you are mourning the loss of an actual relationship, even if it is toxic, dysfunctional, and hurtful. Although mourning the figurative loss of a family member that is alive is hard, it has been the best thing that I’ve done because it has allowed me to begin to move past what I wanted toward recognizing and truly appreciating what I have. What I have is the love of half of my family by genetics. I may always mourn the loss of the other alive family members, but mourning a loss of what I should have had is better than continuing to be hurt by them.
Holidays are tough, be with people that love you and display this accordingly, not only with their words but their actions, as well. You owe it to yourself.
I would love to know your thoughts on this session, therapy in general, and more about your journey in getting better in touch with who you are through therapy. Reach out, let’s chat on FB, IG, and Twitter. Until then, Happy Healing.
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