Adult Children of Alcoholics – Surviving the Holidays with Their Dysfunctional Families

The holidays are particularly stressful for most people, let alone ACOAs and those who are survivors of emotional abuse and neglect.

The stinking presumption hangs in the air that families should be together, and that everyone should have merit.

Some of us have family members who want to believe that the holidays are a time to let things slide, as if any abuse they have committed in the past should be dismissed. For many of us survivors of emotional abuse and ACOA, these stinking, sticky assumptions that linger through the holidays only add to our already massive burdens of guilt. We endlessly wonder, once again, as we did as children, wondering if we are the problem. We hear ourselves asking, “Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m difficult or unforgiving?”

Any ACOA or EAS (emotional abuse survivor) can tell you that part of your recovery work has involved setting some sort of personal boundaries, as well as physical boundaries with others.

We are wounded beings, and many of us still have open, festering wounds that we need to heal.

Just because ACOA has embarked on a recovery program doesn’t mean they can get through the holiday season without some sense of anxiety. In fact, the holidays are an incredible trigger for most of us during the holidays, and it pays to prepare ahead of time for what might happen at the dinner table when all the dysfunctional members of your life gather together, as they make go out of their way to pretend that they are just like any other happy family.

1.) Don’t allow yourself to slip under the veil of denial. It’s better to accept that you’re spending the holidays with energy vampires and emotional lions than to pretend that the people you love don’t have the capacity to hurt you. They do, and if we let them, they will.

2.) Be clear about your personal boundaries. If dad likes to scratch your wounds, or mom likes to passive-aggressively hint at something she knows will provoke a reaction from you, accept it, feel it coming, and then calmly say, “I don’t want to.” I want to talk about it.”

3.) If you feel that you are being attacked, even slightly, and that the rabbit hole is imminent, politely announce that you are not feeling well and that you think you better go. So get up and go.

4.) If you are leaving, leave the house with lots of hugs and a confident tone in your voice, “Oh, I’m sorry, Mom, oh, I’m sorry, Dad, but I feel like I’m about to get sick and I don’t want to to ruin your festive meal. Have a wonderful family celebration, I’ll call you tomorrow.”

5.) If you leave, then leave with a big smile on your face and in your heart, because only to control what was in your power to do so, and no one could bring you down. rabbit hole, or drain you of your energy. Congratulations! You have just learned to take responsibility for your happiness.

6.) Put on your headphones and immediately do an affirmation meditation, or a calming meditation. I’ll include one below. Take a deep breath and focus on the fact that you took control.

7.) If you feel like crying, then cry, let it out…but when you’re done, know that you took care of him, and that maybe for the first time in his life, he’s learned that you’re the boss of yourself.

8.) Go to bed early and in the morning prepare yourself a wonderful Christmas breakfast. Light a candle for your table, ‘just for you’.

9.) Journal about your feelings and thoughts, and get in touch with the personal power within you that allowed you to set personal boundaries with your family.

10.) Call a friend or coworker who you know accepts you for who you are. Just enjoy the simplicity of the conversation and think that if you learn to keep setting limits, your life will start to change for the better, and maybe next year, you will be surrounded by people who respect your limits as much as your soul. And be prepared, you may not be surrounded by the people you think you are.

This holiday season, know that you are not alone. This is a particularly difficult season for all of us.

But let’s not forget that the advertising we see and feel is generated by the economy. The holiday season is all about making a profit for retailers, and the extra buzz we feel in the air, and all those assumptions we can’t help but notice, yes, it’s all marketing, dear ones.

The masses of men are seen as little more than cattle, who have the ability to feed the source of income.

Do not fall prey to the subliminal messages that advertising throws at our stores.

Don’t be fooled by all the Christmas music you’re hearing in every store you walk through this season.

Do not allow unseen or visible forces to dictate your mood, or how you perceive yourself, or this world any longer.

Wake up dear, it’s all an illusion.

You are the boss of you.

You have the power.

You are loved.