Healing During the Holidays
We understand. Sometimes, problems with romantic relationships, friendships, career or family life get you down. And we want to help. That’s why JET is working with therapist, Jinnie Cristerna, who will take your questions and offer some sage, sanity-restoring advice and insight every Tuesday.
You can submit your own question via firstname.lastname@example.org and don’t fret, we’ll keep your name and identity confidential. Now we have a question from a reader we will call “Unequipped Friend.”
QUESTION: The holidays are coming up and my friend was supposed to visit her mom’s family for Thanksgiving. She just found out that an uncle who molested her was recently paroled and will be there for Thanksgiving. Many folks on her mom’s side of the family took up for the uncle instead of her. He was sent to prison on an unrelated charge. Her family is telling her to let it go and come for the holiday. How does she deal with her mom’s family and the hurt that comes with it? Signed, Unequipped friend
Dear Unequipped Friend,
The holiday season can stir up ghosts we thought were long gone. But, when they return, the way we choose to handle our past can lead to more pain or healing, especially during the holiday season.
What you present is a very heavy and loaded scenario; however, you can still help your friend make a decision and support her. First, try to help her determine what she thinks is in her best interest. Second, allow her to make the final decision; and third, support her either way.
In situations like these, you want to remain as objective and supportive as possible because, believe it or not, this is part of how your friend will heal. She will have to make decisions regarding her perpetrator and family as well as deal with feelings of betrayal and self-doubt.
It is difficult to know what your friend’s experience will be like and how you could help her with the process because each individual’s journey is unique. With that said, here are some general tips to help your friend deal with the hurt and or confusion she is experiencing at this time:
1) Remind yourself that this is part of the process. Healing from trauma and abuse occurs over time; and something will inevitably stir up the “ghosts” of the trauma even though it may have happened years or even decades ago. The best way to deal with it is to remind yourself that the ghosts will come up from time to time and it is how you deal with them that helps you continue to heal.
2) Allow yourself to have your feelings – whatever they are. Many of us find it difficult to “feel” because for so long we have been told that we shouldn’t feel a certain way, for one reason or another. That’s simply untrue. The more you push away your feelings, the stronger they become. If you allow yourself to feel sad, angry, etc., the feelings often subside more quickly and relief will set in earlier. If you become too overwhelmed with your emotions, a therapist can be quite helpful and the use of heart-centered hypnotherapy can be quite effective.
3) Put yourself and your best interest first. While others may want you to think about how “so-and-so” might feel and to sacrifice your own needs, it can actually backfire and cause more angst and emotional stress for you. While you should consider the timing and whether or not it is worth the energy for you in the long run, frequently putting other people’s needs before yours can be a recipe for emotional disaster – especially during the holidays.
4) Spend the holidays with whomever you feel the safest – that goes for everyone. Holidays are to be celebrated. And, unless your idea of celebration is chaos, drama, and pain, avoid setting up scenarios where people are unsafe (physically or emotionally). If you feel unsafe going somewhere to celebrate, then don’t go.
I hope this was helpful and that your friend is able to find healing and health this holiday season.
Do you have a question for Jinnie? Email us at email@example.com. We’ll be sure to keep it anonymous and confidential. You can also learn more about our “Moment of Clarity” JET therapist via:
Her site at International High Achievers.
Facebook: Like Jinnie’s Page!
You can also subscribe to her High Achievers email list here!