Surviving the holidays

Surviving the Holidays; Road to Recovery Webinar

Navigating the Holidays During Healing

The closing months of the year can add layers of stress. For couples overcoming hurt and betrayal, the extra demands and memories of how things used to be can feel overwhelming. Even with solid repair work, the season may kick up a storm of big feelings and emotions. Success at this time means knowing yourself, protecting your healing, and navigating challenges with care and compassion.

Check In With Where You Are

Honestly assess where you are emotionally. This allows modifying plans so they help rather than hurt healing. Early on especially, wanting a joyful holiday like “everyone else” is understandable. But deep hurts don’t disappear on schedules. Expecting otherwise will likely lead to more pain. Healing takes patient compassion and boundaries. Support each other in gentle truth – and not in meeting unrealistic expectations. If you are feeling strong enough to carry on with traditions and gatherings, move forward with those plans. However, be prepared to be compassionate with yourself if you find you prefer staying in over going out. This likely will not last forever. You are still healing and where you are right now is okay.

Don’t Pressure Each Other

Hurting partners need space to process without judgment. Pushing your partner to “get over it” for the holidays will likely cause more harm. Likewise, the partner who caused damage must avoid justifying or minimizing their partner’s pain during the holidays. With compassion for the long journey ahead, commit to walk through hard seasons for as long as it takes, and not rush through them.

Stick To Your Routine

Skipping key stabilizing routines can bring disaster. Consistent counseling, groups, and self-care practices make space to handle heightened holiday emotions. Adjust your schedules and routines if absolutely necessary, but don’t abandon what anchors your progress. Remind yourself that these priorities protect your peace and your recovery. Don’t underestimate their importance. Many times the unexpected events of the holiday season can derail the routines you have worked hard to establish as you heal. Protect those routines that are vital to your recovery so you don’t end up losing the progress you’ve worked so hard to attain.

Show Up Emotionally

When destructive patterns wreak relational havoc, learning simply to stay present through moments of chaos builds sturdy bonds. Despite raised tensions, committing to emotional availability can be profoundly reassuring. Fight lovingly. Listen more than defend. See each other’s tender humanity. During holiday parties and gatherings, check in with each other. If your partner isn’t able to attend get-togethers with you, give them that space. Being empathetic to each other’s feelings during this time will yield dividends as you continue to walk on your path to healing.

Self Care

Attempting to healthily navigate intense dynamics alone can backfire. Protecting your personal health will sustain your ability to support each other. You can’t care for others without caring for yourself first. It’s common during the holidays to have more things added to your plate. Knowing what to take off your plate can help you in your self care. You may feel pressured to do things you know will not serve you; you can say no. 

Community Care

Many times, finding the peace and validation you’re searching for starts with being able to be with people that understand the journey you’re on. Find a community that can empathize with the pain, the emotions, and the feelings. Being around a supportive community who knows what you’re going through can be invaluable during the holiday season.

Find What Grounds You

Find ways to remain grounded during your healing journey.. Seek whatever reconnects you to inner sources of peace and meaning that external validation cannot provide. Return to these wells often. This may include breathwork, meditation, journaling, spirituality, or exercise. Find what works for you and prioritize these efforts during the holiday chaos.

Gratitude Rewires The Brain

Remarkable research shows committing to a consistent gratitude practice literally transforms neural pathways even amidst grief. When we share appreciations rather than expectations, our body can heal. Our brain can change as we remember to look for the good and identify what we are grateful for. This positivity can be hard to come by when you are in the early stages of betrayal and grief, but as you practice noticing the things you are grateful for, it will get easier. Those who remember to take time to be grateful are often able to recover faster emotionally.

The Power of Saying No

Trying to meet everyone’s holiday expectations except your own turns toxic fast. Partners heal best by honestly but compassionately communicating authentic feelings and limits – not bottling then blowing up later. Preserve your peace. When self-care gets prioritized first, it is easier to see what you have left for others. Some years you may find you are ready to do a lot, but it’s okay to accept if this is not one of those years. You can say no confidently when you know you are prioritizing your healing and protecting yourself from burnout and overwhelm.

Asking and Receiving

Attempting to do everything yourself will exhaust your already depleted reserves. Asking for practical help or emotional support long before desperation doesn’t diminish you; it keeps you whole. And learning to receive from others with as much grace as you give nurtures the interconnectedness that heals. Allow yourself to receive help if you need it. Your mind and body will thank you, and those who serve you will feel closer to you as they find ways to help.

Welcome New Memories

You will have old traditions and memories. You may find you need to let go of some of your past traditions. Do not rush this, but when you are ready, realize that you have a new life. You’re building new relationships with yourself and with others. This new life will not look the same as your old life, and that’s okay. Lean into doing different things and trying new traditions. You will find some that stick and others that don’t. Give yourself the room to take those opportunities to create new memories. This can be really helpful as you try to connect relationally with those still in your life.

Examine The Past With Compassion

The holidays often spotlight how early childhood environments unknowingly wreak havoc in adult relationships and intimacy. Gently investigate these generational patterns. Speak with friends, coaches, or therapists about the things in your early years that may be contributing to your thoughts and actions today. As you look back on the situations and environments that shaped you, you may gain clarity and insight into why you think, act, and react in certain ways. Identifying problem areas in generational patterns can lead to exponential growth.

Stand Confidently In Your Experience

When facing outside inquiries over unclear relationship changes, stand firmly rooted in your inner integrity rather than unraveling outward. You may need to attend events without your partner. They may need to attend events without you. Relatives and friends may have questions about where the other person is. If you plan to attend holiday gatherings alone, be ready to have an answer to those who ask where your partner is. An honest response might be, “Yes, my partner isn’t here today. You can ask them why they weren’t able to make it.” Then continue on and enjoy the gathering knowing you don’t need to make excuses for your partner or lie about their whereabouts.

You Can Do This

In conclusion, while the holidays can be fraught with relational triggers, you can plan ahead now to set yourself up for success. If you have been working on your recovery, this season does not need to derail all of your progress. Communicate with your partner and decide how you will navigate the next few weeks. If you and your partner are able to get on the same page, the holidays can be a time of healing and peace. If you are not able to communicate with your partner, you can decide by yourself how you want to show up this season. Get clear on what you want, make a plan, and go forward knowing you are doing your best. This season may not look like any of your past holiday seasons, but it can still be bright and joyful as you prioritize your healing and recovery.

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