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Holidays evoke mixed emotions amid childhood trauma healing

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holidays and childhood trauma

I’ve decided to start sharing some personal blog posts—ones where I can be vulnerable and honest about my healing journey. I often share little snippets and stories here and there, but I wonder if it creates this illusion on social media that I’ve got everything perfectly sorted out.

The truth is, I’m on this healing journey right alongside you. We’re all works in progress, navigating this road of recovery from a difficult childhood.

I might be a few years further down the road, armed with a few more tools, but let me tell you, my heart is still on this healing adventure. There are moments when I grapple with my past just as deeply as anyone else.

As Thanksgiving was coming around the corner this year, at first, it was less painful than years passed.

This marks my second year apart from my family. So, here I am, facing the second Thanksgiving without the family I once knew, navigating the challenging decision of willingly embracing a form of self-imposed orphanhood.

It’s a choice no one makes lightly.

Currently, I’m only in touch with one sibling, and I’ve unwittingly become the “villain” in the eyes of the rest of my immediate and extended family.

In some ways, I’ve found a sense of peace in it.

Ironically, this entire business, website, and my sharing have created a deeper wedge. But here’s the thing—I’ve reached a point where speaking my truth and helping others…. is more important… than trying to please those who’ve never really supported or shown me the love I deserve.

Actually, it’s incredible; by sharing, I’ve found support, kindness, acceptance, and love from complete strangers on the internet… those who connect with my story.

And I felt more than I ever felt from my own blood relatives. Life’s twists and turns, right?

When I used to be in touch with my family, the anticipation of gatherings would hit me with intense anxiety.

I was always planning my escape, making sure I had all my anxiety meds and coping tools ready to endure the day. I would keep my head buried in my phone as a way to disconnect from the chaos around me. Are you doing that today?

It was always so confusing—why did I keep subjecting myself to this when it felt so draining?

And worse yet, why did I still crave a connection and time with people who made me feel such negativity towards myself and life?

You might assume that stepping back from that painful dynamic would bring a sense of peace. However, life has a way of complicating things.

Now, there’s just new complex emotions. I keep wondering about the plans they might have made without me this year.

Experiencing that familiar sense of loneliness and exclusion, but differently.

In the end, I’ve realized that there’s no winning in this situation. It’s more about discovering the route to mend my heart and acknowledging that this might always be a source of pain.

This morning, I woke up with a wave of sadness and loneliness, catching me off guard.

It took me by surprise because the build-up to today seemed better than years before.

Fortunately, I’ve got the tools to process and navigate these challenging emotions. That’s my focus right now, and I thought of sharing it with the hope that it might be helpful for you, too.

Regardless of where you are on your journey, whether you’re still in touch or you’ve made the tough decision to cut ties, the pain is undeniably real.

Allow yourself to feel that pain when you have a chance because it’s important to feel it…. and release it.

Today, I find myself haunted by a particular memory…. throughout my childhood, teenage years, and even into adulthood, Black Friday shopping with my mom and aunt became a cherished tradition.

It marked one of those rare occasions each year when I truly felt loved and significant to my mom.

We would sit around the table and look at all the Black Friday ads on Thanksgiving, planning our shopping destinations, which made me feel included and special.

Yet, it was always short-lived. By the evening of Black Friday, it was all back to normal.

As an adult, we started the tradition of meeting other aunts at the bar for drinks, and I’d find myself once again feeling alone and unloved as her attention shifted to the clique of her and my aunts.

It’s strange how hindsight brings a clearer view of reality. If my memory serves me right, I was included in Black Friday shopping as a kid because my mom said I was “too hard to buy for” and “too picky.”

I remember, as a child picking out and wrapping my own gifts.

My mom would joke about it to people; she somehow thought it was funny.

For me, it was intensely painful, even though I wasn’t sure why.

I know now why.

Now that I’m a mother myself, I see that she wasn’t willing to invest the time to truly understand me and choose thoughtful gifts. She was preoccupied with her own concerns. I was more complicated than my brothers, and somehow, that translated into me being deemed difficult.

She made it clear that I was the problem.

That sense of rejection ran deep. My mother wasn’t willing to take the time to understand me, to choose gifts that truly resonated. Instead, she had me do the work of selecting gifts for myself.

Now I know I was absolutely not the problem.

I was a child that had been beaten down to feel unworthy, unloved, and afraid.

I wasn’t nurtured and cared for.

So today, I sit here and reflect on how this pain still can feel so raw. Even as I have a sense of the reality. As a human being, I have needs that went unmet.

Emotional connection is a fundamental requirement for us, wired into our very survival.

As much as we want to turn it off, it’s not that easy. And that’s why we crave family connection even when it’s deeply painful.

Understanding this has been my way of processing and releasing the pain.

I know that I am craving the safety and love of a healthy family unit that I will never have (with them). And I recognize that that pain is absolutely valid.

So as part of my healing journey, I am taking the time to give my inner child the love and safety she deserves.

Part of that is using my voice to speak up today and share my story. My inner child was stifled and kept quiet for so long. Today, I can help her heal and feel heard to help others.

Wherever you are on your journey today, know that your feelings are valid. Your pain is valid.

Take steps today to care for yourself. Be gentle and grant yourself grace, finding a healthy outlet to release built-up energy. Concentrate on building new, happier, and healthier memories with your kids. Always remember that life keeps moving forward, and as you actively engage in the healing process, your heart will gradually fill with more love and fulfillment.

Sending you so much love today, Kristina

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