abusive relationships, adult children of alcoholics, adult children of narcissistic abuse', aftermath of narcissistic abuse, anxiety, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, c-ptsd, chronic illness, chronic pain, Chronic pain and depression, compassion, Dealing with difficult personalities, dealing with manipulative people, dysfunctional families, emotional abuse, gaslighting, Healing after abuse, healing from narcissistic abuse, holiday anxiety, Holiday depression, mental illness

Holidays for Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families

If you were brought up in a chaotic, dysfunctional, emotionally abusive or negligent childhood then you were taught not to focus on your own needs. As an adult you are at a disadvantage in taking care of yourself.

You might notice that other people draw boundaries and get what they want easier than you do. This is because they were taught that their needs matter and that you have to take care of yourself or no one else will.

Those of us with “People Pleaser Syndrome” were taught ..” if you cater to someone else then eventually that person will take care of you.”

You are supposed to keep sacrificing for others until they appreciate you for what you have sacrificed for them. Unfortunately people most often do not change from “being catered to” to “taking care of you.”

The problem is that the people around you get trained … “spoiled”…that you do not mind being the one they take advantage of. You are the one whobwill come through no matter how inconvenient or painful it is for you.

If you have C-PTSD from abuse as a child (including emotional / psychological) abuse then you are likely to have depression and anxiety disorders.

Many people that were not nurtured and guided to be independent adults now have C-PTSD and do not even know what is wrong with them. As much as you may want to forget your childhood ever existed, it is that early proframming that is still ruling your subconscious thinking, from behind the scenes.

You are not even aware why you make the choices you make. In fact many of your behaviors do not feel like choices at all. You are programmed to respond to people in ways that make you unhappy and even upset with yourself.

The holidays can be miserable for adult children that come from families that programmed them to ignore their true inner voices. But you inner voice is trying to tell you what you really need.

You have just as much of a right to enjoy the holidays as anyone else does. Let your conscious rational brain see when things are not balanced in your relationships.

Before you say yes to anything during the holidays, tell the person you need to think about it. Give yourself time to find out if the things you  are choosing are best for you.

Your first response to people within a few seconds is coming from your programming that other people installed directly into your brain hard drive. But you have the right to override it.

You can refuse to respond to people right away. Just tell them you need to think about it and you will gey back to them. This simple action will tell people that you are a person and that if you choose to what they want it was because you decided to figure it into your schedule.

People may be shocked and resistant to your changing methods but if they always get their way then it is your turn. If you have always done what they want you to on the holidays then you can take one year to do things differently.

Take time to think through what choices best support you. Then do not let people emotionally manipulate you. Other adults such as parents . siblings and in laws do not have the right to demand you to cater to them, especially if they do not care about your feelings and needs.

Taking time to respond will allow you to think about and remeber which people care about you as opposed to which ones manipulate and take you for granite.

The people that manipulate your time are taking your time away from people who you would be happier being with and who deserve your time more.

There is no rule against taking time for yourself or spending it differently than you usually do. Change can be good for the soul and it is also good for your cognitive functionling. When you always go on auto-pilot, your brain loses plasticity.

The plasticity of your brain gets less flexible when you stay in a routine that never alters. It makes it harder for you to rhink of possibilities and options. Making small changes in your behaviors can increase this plasticity and allow you to see more choices.

For every option you see, there is another one that you are not seeing yet, but you might see it if you give yourself time before you commit to things toobfast.

People are not in control over you as much as it feels like. When dealing with manipulative family members you just go outbof your way to please people who neve4 give you the love and acceptance you need anyway.

Allow time for yourself and for people who will appreciate you more. There may be someone you would like to make time for that you have not thought of because they are not the “squeeky wheel.”

Think of what you would actually like to do during the holidays. If things are triggering to your anxiety or depression then you can …

Blow them off…

Keep the time to a minimum and then go do something you want to do…

Change something about your behavior that makes it more bearable such ad not agreeing to everything right away ( remember…I need to think about it)…

Don’t cater to people’s emotions who are minimizing or neglecting you feelings, wishes and rights…

Leave early…

Take control back for some aspect of the events and activities (do not do everthing the way they expect you to)…

Let people know that you have as much right to enjoy ( or at least not be miserable) during the holidays as they do…

Say “no” and let them figure out their next step…

Take notes for yourself about what people say and do so that they do not change the truth around to manipulate your memory. …

Set you own time table as far as what times you are able to come and go…other people do just this



13 thoughts on “Holidays for Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families”

  1. Lovely post and very insightful. I am much better at putting my needs first when it comes to my dysfunctional family. I limit contact with them and even though Christmas is still a difficult time for me,it is much less turbulent as I choose to spend it with uplifting people. x

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks for the tips…I still am not sure about the anniversary party. (I KNOW I won’t wear a dress). I just feel like it is a bit like playing pretend when your a child. I refuse to play any longer. Mom, Dad and my daughter will be here Friday. I will hopefully find a place where we can talk in peace. I want to talk to them in person…wish you could hold my hand…lol.

    But like my counselor said today, sometimes you do have to hurt others feelings and you just have to be blunt to get your point across. I’ve decided another reason not to visit: my cat. I refuse to leave her for two nights in a row ever again. If she can’t come, then I can’t go.

    Thanks for the tips. Sincerely, LaVancia

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There is a difference between being assertive and being aggressive. You have every right to be assertive, which is making your boundaries clear about what you can and cannot do for people. Sometimes someone wants you to do things or feel things that you do not want to.

      Other people assert themselves about what they do and do not want, and about how they feel all the time, It is often the very people that are clear about what they want, that do not accept it when you do the same.

      Being aggressive is when you cross from protecting your own boundaries and telling people how things make you feel, and go over into stomping on their boundaries. Calling people names, demanding they they feel and do what you want is aggressive.

      We have to protect ourselves from people that are aggressive about getting what they want from us. Even passive aggressive is not something you have to accept…like people that try to get an emotional reaction from you in order to get you to do what they want…guilt, shame, etc.

      As long as you are taking care of yourself and not intentionally trying to hurt someone or manipulate then into doing something , then you have every right to express your feelings and opinions. You have the right to say “no” when people want you to do something that is not good for you or does not support your well being.

      If they choose to feel (or act like they feel) that their feelings are hurt, then they are responsible for their own feelings. Sometimes people get offended when you say “no” because they are nor used to you telling them “no”. If this is the case then it is something you have to let be. Let them react as they will . You can endure any emotions they want to feel….You do not have to feel what they want you to feel.

      Just because someone feels mad that you are asserting personal boundaries does not mean that it is your fault. It is sometimes their fault for not accepting you as an individual person with individual rights. That is their own problem and you do not have to carry it.

      Good luck,

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for responding. Sometimes you also have to think, what would be the worst case scenario if I speak up and tell the truth…for me, it would probably just be having to walk back home and perhaps not spending Christmas with my family; however, in other cases (from before) they are usually within a day or two, apologizing and are more empathetic with what I have said. What makes it frustrating is that oftentimes, they will make it out to be like, well, she DOES have schizophrenia and perhaps having that mental illness is what makes her think/assert herself like she is doing. But at least they do attempt to keep the bridge of communication open. Thanks again! LaVancia

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Blowing off someone still feels like a nearly unpardonable crime, but you are right. It’s just hard to do.
    “Before you say yes to anything during the holidays, tell the person you need to think about it. ”
    Excellent idea, thank you.
    In Solidarity with All Kind People,
    Peace via Cooperation and Non-Cooperation,


    24 November, 12015 HE

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have had to spend 11 days with family at Christmas. It’s seen as 10 days too manny. No internet, no mobile reception & no mode of transport to escape! Might be 10.5 days too manny……. I’ve been telling people next year I’m staying home to eat baked beans on toast & I HATE baked beans!

    Liked by 1 person

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