Birthday & Holiday Season – Does the Cycle Break?

Birthday & Holiday Season – Does the Cycle Break?

Holidays can be triggering to survivors of childhood and family trauma.  It is very normal for survivors of childhood abuse & trauma to find holidays painful.  The holiday season for my immediate family begins September 18th with our wedding anniversary, October 1 husband’s birthday, November 9th mine and my daughter’s birthday, son’s birthday November 17th, Thanksgiving, December 2nd my sister’s birthday, another son’s birthday December 20th, Christmas, and finally New Years Eve.  It is a CRUSH of expectations, obligations, and financial strain.

So many emotions are tied to gatherings, celebrations, and traditions.  In our dysfunctional family, me and my husband attend recovery programs from addiction and trauma.  Over the Birthday & Holiday season, hurt feelings are inevitable.

Dysfunctional family systems are not equipped nor have ever learned to communicate needs, wishes and desires normally.  In normal healthy relationships, communication leads to growth and understanding.  Dysfunctional family systems communication methods lead to Insanity.   The Loop is either nurturing or destructive.

Healthy communications most often results in bonding while poor communications results in regrets or resentments. In my family of origin, immediate family, and extended family breakdown goes one step further.  Recruitment of others to smear, demean, gaslight and scapegoat launches. 

The communication cycle never changes. An Infinite Loop of destruction. Everyone involved is a loser.  Everyone involved ‘self-justifies hurt’.  Families have been destroyed.  Hostages taken.  Alliances formed.

Here is how it gets started with my husband……

  1. I share a feeling, request, or raise a topic.
  2. He creates a diversion.
  3. I try to raise the topic again (sells it, texts it, justifies it, emails it)
  4. He rejects the pitch – emphasizes the diversion and then starts to add blame, shame, gaslighting, and demeaning/disparaging/derogatory slaughter begins.
  5. Feeling completely rejected and attacked, I go crazy & create chaos. Hate e-mails, texts, calls.
  6. He wins as the topic is avoided.
  7. I am put in my place.
  8. He, in some instances rally’s supporters, then all mock me as CRAZY.
  9. My abandonment issues re-ignited; depression sets in.
  10. Nobody loves or values me is the talk track that streams for endless hours in my head.

Very similar to how it gets started with my mother. 

When I am feeling rejection, being dismissed, ignored, or hurt; my insanity is that I want to share.  Sharing ‘how I am feeling’ with my husband, who is in addiction recovery, starts a new cycle of abuse.  Just like the untreated alcoholics distorted thinking when they convince themselves that one drink will be just fine.  All memories of drunk experiences from the past forgotten.  The Devil convinces the Alcoholic that one drink will be fine.  It never is.  In the moment, I forget all failed attempts communicating and falsely believe that the outcome of the discussion will unite.

When does the destruction begin?

  • Husband:  Kicks off as soon as he ‘senses’ a topic coming.  I get maybe 4-6 words out before I am cut off; and the diversion begins. 
  • Mother:  She may start to listen, quicky diversion comes in the form of gaslighting.  For example: “That didn’t happen”, “You used to be such a nice girl”, and blame “You started this whole thing with every member of the family and have ruined our family unit of which we are the King and Queen….”
  • MIL:  Betrayal her hammer.  My plea for help was met with “I wouldn’t trust that one”, she said on speaker phone to my husband not knowing I was listening.

Any sane person would then start to conclude, IT MUST BE ME.  The point of failure is expectations.  The point of judgement becomes how I asked.  The stopping point should be when I lovingly disengage and give it to God. Or is it okay to have some expectations?

Expectations can be both good and bad, depending on how realistic and flexible they are. Expectations can be good when they motivate us to start something, overcome obstacles, and chase our dreams. However, expectations can be bad when they are unrealistic, rigid, or unmet, which can cause us stress, anger, and anxiety. We need to be aware of our expectations and how they affect our life experience.

Are these Good or Bad Expectations:

  • A husband listens to you openly and lovingly?
  • A childhood free from gross physical abuse and fear?
  • A mother who loves, protects, and nourishes?
  • A father that leads his family spiritually and lovingly?
  • Parents that live and reinforce the religion they practice?
  • A husband that doesn’t harm you physically, psychologically, verbally?
  • People who are supposed to love you, protect you from abuse, no matter who is creating the abuse?

Including me, each adult in my family circle is either:  Alcoholic, Addict, Abuser, Enabler, and/or Narcissist.  Every one of us believes conversely, we are the Victim.  This makes it nearly impossible to have healthy communications.  Learning more about myself, I need to change is HOW.  I lead with too many ‘You-Statements’.  ‘You’ causes my husband to bristle.  Instead, I should practice ‘I-Statement to express my feelings, thoughts, or concerns.

Kelly, “I am feeling dismissed.”Versus, “You keep cutting me off.”
Kelly, “I am feeling rejected.”Versus, “You never listen to me.”
MIL, “What is going on, how can we help?”Versus, “Kevin, I wouldn’t trust that one…”
Mother saying: “We are all feeling hurt….”Versus “You alone have created this mess….”

With this simple change alone, communications start in a more respectful manner.  Versus triggering.  When the issue is urgent, such as the threat of being physically harmed, the cry for help is a reaction and protection is needed.  How I asked for help gets highly punished, while my husband, that has a history of physically abusing me, is dismissed (by his family). 

In dysfunctional families there is a slow burn.  When a normal person puts their finger in a pot of boiling water, they react immediately and pull the finger out.  In dysfunctional families, the finger is put in a pot, water added, heated, and eventually boils.  My finger has grown tolerant of the heat.  I grew up in a highly physically abusive family.  I could not identify abuse as I grew up, just learned to be tolerant of abuse.  What was normal?

Is it normal…. to be called names, blocked from exiting a room, towered over, yelled at, pushed, pinned against walls, held so tightly fingerprint bruises formed, carried down flights of stairs, bruised, or dragged out of my daughter’s room by my feet?  Growing up in abuse and being abused at such a young and formative age, I don’t know the line, nor when the line is crossed.  Continuing with this situation, my cry for help came three months before I was dragged by my feet and landed in the Emergency Room.  Traumatized again.  Worth noting, I am still being punished and his behavior still dismissed.  In my family of origin, I am being punished for calling abusive behavior ‘Abuse’.

In dysfunctional families, the Loop becomes infinite, closes shut, and locks.  The flow of bad energy circling. An Infinitive Loop has no terminating condition.  The Devil creates an infinite loop for a purpose.  Infinite Loops create high CPU usage and consume power.  The computer does not know the root cause of the Infinite Loop.  The computer just creates iteration, the OS gives the loop time to execute, eventually 100% of the CPU gets consumed. The Devil Wins – Family Dies.

Unless the Infinite Loop contains code that calls some system function that yields time back to the OS, The Devil Wins.  If the Infinite Loop contains code to call system functions that gives time back, power then is restored to the CPU.  God Wins – Families Thrive.

Does the cycle get broken?  It is not the responsibility of one person alone to fix family dysfunction.  Nor is one person alone the cause of the dysfunction.  IT IS NOT ALL ME.  The solution requires:

  • Open communications. 
  • Our sicknesses are being treated.
  • Joint commitment to change. 

Are we too sick, old, broken in Gods eyes to try? Or is it possible that God introduced us to these challenges, so we could learn to rely on his Will? Are we relying on God’s Will or Own? Or is Pride, Wrath, and Sloth going to prevent us from being closer to God and each other?

The direction is clear.  Let God’s Will be Done.

Looking forward to a blessed and healthier Holiday Season and Seasons to come.

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