Your Holiday Survival Kit
Oh, Holly Holidays! It’s here, That time of year when we come together to celebrate the season with love, laughter, gifts, good food and family, and friends. Everyone would arrive with warm open arms and their designated plates, offer to help in any way possible and make every effort to be Jolly and nice with one another.
I don’t know about you, but this quaint and simple description of the holidays was a crock-o-crap in my world. When I wasn’t running circles around my mom to make sure she was comfortable and happy, which she never was, by the way, I was hiding in the laundry room crying and yelling at my partner about how the in-laws are doing their usual overdrinking and I’m getting no help in the kitchen! The rest of the family and guests could tell there was tension and were quick to try and help which somehow only made it worse. By the time it came to eat I felt like every dish and morsel was tainted with my defeat, anger and dissolution of this not so lovely day, and don’t get me started on the wrath that was a-bubblin for my partner once the door shut on the last survivor of the evening.
It’s fun to chime in on the running joke that is holidays spent with family, but these were some really devastating times for me and especially my relationship. I felt alone in the pressure to make this special time special and it was intensified because I didn’t know how to set up my personal limits, and I REALLY didn’t know how to ask my partner or friends and family to support me.
I didn’t know back then that it wasn’t my responsibility to make others feel good and enjoy themselves. I didn’t know that with an uncomfortable, but firm conversations I was allowed to put a drink minimum on the in-laws, I didn’t know that I could designate tasks and an emotional look out point to the friends and family that so desperately wanted to help me, but could only watch me go down in flames. Worst of all, I couldn’t tell my closest person that I was drowning and I needed him to be my life vest. I spent so much time trying to hold it all together and not speaking up that my resentment and anger came out like a hissing viper going in for the kill. When the smoke finally cleared you can be sure I was on a holiday strike and a couple steps closer to the end of my relationship.
If these holiday memories resonate with you like the tiny ring of a dinner bell or the chimes of the royal wedding, I’m about to bestow some very helpful “I wish I knew then what I know now” takeaways that are not only going to help see you through the holidays but will bring you a bit closer to your partner and dare I say it…even enjoy yourself!
First and foremost; practice being in your present moment. Its tough but if you can lay down your expectations, hopes and dreams of how the day is supposed to go, you won’t be as let down as you have in the past and you will take a tremendous amount of pressure off yourself.
Once you set down your expectations it’s time for the reality check about what works and what doesn’t. Focus on the stresses you can control. This may mean that you’re going to let friends and family down with different plans or changing your responses to situations.
The next thing and this is the most important, you need to speak up! It’s time to ask for the support and help you need, especially with your partner, they are usually the one that will have the most capacity and desire to see you less stressed and enjoying yourself. Only you know what you need to feel physically and emotionally supported and there’s no better feeling than knowing you are not alone and that your partner, friends, and family have your back. So make it a point to sit down and share how this will need to look for you well before you enter the lion’s den.
The last and probably most difficult tip is to set boundaries and personal limits ahead of time. The holiday can expose us to a barrage of very unpleasant people and situations that are out of our control so it’s very important to forecast how best to care for yourself and take action. You may have to make an uncomfortable call asking someone to check their behavior or habit before arriving at your home. If you’re heading into a less than desirable situation set a time limit. The clearer you can be on what hurts or causes you stress the more empowered you will feel to do something different with it.
Don’t forget, these are your holidays too! Be brave and give some or all of these tips a try. You will feel so much better and your effort to show up for yourself may even shift some other stuck spots in your connections!
Big Warm Wishes To You,