Show me a person with a relational trauma history, and I’ll show you someone who, at one point in time, likely had a complex relationship with the winter holidays.

Why?

Because the two culturally dominant and federally-recognized holidays during this time – Thanksgiving and Christmas – are family-centric, and there’s often a slew of assumptions and questions that come from folks during this time that presupposes a relationship with family of origin and all the attendant plan-making, visiting, and togetherness that relationship implies.

Such implications and assumptions might be anything but true, easy, or simple for someone who comes from a relational trauma background and/or who is currently estranged or disowned from their family system.

It’s a time of the year when well-meaning but impactful questions abound in Zoom meetings, in the preschool pickup line, and while bumping into your neighbor raking up the leaves:

“So what did you do for Thanksgiving?”

“Wait, you’re not going home for the holidays?!”

“So you DON’T love this time of the year?”

Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe DEFINITELY not.

For many of us, this time of the year can be really triggering; a reminder of what never was, what isn’t, and what likely won’t be, at least with your family of origin.

So please, if this is you, and if you struggle with the holiday season for any reason, today’s post is for you.

In recognition of the struggles that may arise during this time, here are 11 reminders, 15 scripts, and 8 supports to assist you in navigating the triggering winter holiday season.

Consider this post a digital permission slip of sorts if you’re struggling this holiday season. Remember:

Tuck this digital permission slip away for now, but come back to it any time when you feel triggered by what you imagine you “should” feel/do/experience during this time of the year.

Consider the following scripts if people question what you’re doing for the holidays and/or comment on your lack of plans or plans that don’t make sense to them.

Hopefully, these scripts will feel supportive. Of course, create any and all iterations from them that resonate with you and your unique situation.

As you internalize the digital permission slip reminders and hold your boundaries politely but assertively, consider lining up alternative plans or extra supports for yourself through the holiday season if your plans don’t/can’t/shouldn’t include your family of origin or anyone else:

The holidays can be triggering for many of us with relational trauma histories. Hopefully, one script, one reminder, or one activity from today's post feels supportive.

QOSHE - With a Relational Trauma History, the Holidays Can Be Hard - Annie Wright Lmft
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With a Relational Trauma History, the Holidays Can Be Hard

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29.11.2023

Show me a person with a relational trauma history, and I’ll show you someone who, at one point in time, likely had a complex relationship with the winter holidays.

Why?

Because the two culturally dominant and federally-recognized holidays during this time – Thanksgiving and Christmas – are family-centric, and there’s often a slew of assumptions and questions that come from folks during this time that presupposes a relationship with family of origin and all the attendant plan-making, visiting, and togetherness that relationship implies.

Such implications and assumptions might be anything but true, easy, or simple for someone who comes from a relational........

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