December 13 - Examining the Past for a New Future

Yesterday you identified your unconscious expectations of the upcoming holidays…today let’s explore when you first made those declarations. Can you remember a holiday during your childhood when you experienced similar feelings or declarations? What happened as a result of your feeling that way?

When my children approach me about what we are going to do on Christmas Day, my answer is always the same. “I don’t really care what time we get together or even exactly what we do… what ever works best for all of you is fine with me. All I ask is that the time we do plan together is our time and that it doesn’t get interrupted with something unexpected. I want to be able to thoroughly enjoy the family together, without being worried that it is going to end unexpectedly or hurriedly.”

Why is this so important to me, more important than any of the specifics? As a child, I always looked forward to Christmas Day. It was the one day of the year when I knew my father would not be working. I could count on it. Well, I could count on it until he had a cocktail or two. Then the togetherness would end unexpectedly or hurriedly.Although this happened throughout the year as well on a regular basis, it was even more disruptive on Christmas Day because the togetherness was there at the beginning. I had allowed myself to believe again, and when my heart received another disappointment, it felt crushing.

 As a result, even as an adult, I actually found myself expecting disruptions to occur. Because I felt completely helpless about this as a child, it would never even occur to me that I could influence this dynamic as an adult by making requests that would discourage disruptions. As a result it seemed that every year someone would unexpectedly have to leave without notice. And I would feel that old heartbreak one more time. I literally created the nightmare of my childhood by not speaking my needs of the moment.

And just as when I was a child, I would feel blindsided, hurt, angry, and resigned to more of the same.

However, after remembering my childhood experiences and expressing the feelings around them through journaling, I now have an understanding of the past that allows me the freedom to design a day that resembles the Christmas of my dreams. As a family, we work together so that my needs and their needs can be met. We could not do this until we recognized what had been preventing it in the past.

So today, I invite you to remember the holidays of yesteryear and try to understand them more fully than you ever have before. See if you can expand your knowledge about the situations that used to hurt or disappoint you. Try to rewrite the story just a bit.

For example, when I look back on my childhood holidays, I can remember my father talking about “going on the wagon.” I realize now that he tried very hard to stop drinking…there just wasn’t the help available to assist him then. He never learned how to express his anger in a healthy way, and combined with the alcoholism, that created a dangerous situation. Looking back, I can see that it had nothing to do with me, how much I mattered, or whether or not I deserved to have my requests met. My father was an alcoholic, and no one then knew how to help him. Remembering all of this enabled me to begin asking for what I needed as an adult…I no longer viewed myself as a powerless victim.

When you are tempted to revert back to the old expectations, remember to recognize the difference between then and now. And if you can, write it down! After all, it’s the first chapter of your brand-new story!

What do you remember from your childhood holidays that has contributed to your addictive mood? What did you declare about that situation when you were a child? What did you think it reflected about you? What were you unable to see because you were immature and could not comprehend the entire situation? What do you see now that helps you understand more? Will you write it down and begin a new story?

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