Holidays and Pathological Stress

Holidays are extremely stressful times. It’s a time when it is more likely:

* For domestic violence to occur or reoccur

* For dysfunctional families to be even MORE dysfunctional

* For pathology to be overt and blatant

* For pathology to target your joy and ruin your holidays

* For former pathological relationships to magically reappear and try to hook you back in

* People drink more

* People binge eat because of the stress

* Some feel pressured to ‘be in a relationship’ during the holidays and accept dates or stay with dangerous persons to ‘just get thru the holidays’

* To overspend

* To not get enough rest

It’s an idealistic time when people have more depression and anxiety than any other time of the year. They think their lives ‘should be’ the picture postcards and old movies we watch this time of year. Depression creeps in, anxiety increases, and to cope they eat/drink/spend/date in ways they normally would not.

Those with the super trait of ‘sentimentality’ focus on years past when you had that ‘one’ perfect Christmas with the pathological. The last drunken, absent, or abusive 14 Christmases are forgotten, forgiven or overlooked. But what IS focused on is that one year when it was nice and your pit-bull stronghold on the hope it will be this way again.

But you and I both know that pathology is permanent. The last 14 years are a much better and more realistic presentation of what pathology does during the holidays than the one fluke of a year he held it together. Pathology is and of itself stressful to experience under any circumstances. Add to it the expectations for a pathological to be different (ie, act appropriately) this time of year, and the pathologicals and everyone else’s stress is then through the roof. Sometimes even our hope can be pathological when it is focused on something that can not and does not change.

The glittering of your fantasy that resembles your Christmas tree lights places not only you in the path of Christmas misery, but all those you plan to spend Christmas with. Your family, kids, pets, etc. It is much kinder to unplug your glittering fantasy and tell yourself the truth what the likely outcome of attempting to find a serene and joyful moment with a pathological than it is to drag others through your melting fantasy.

Peace, gratitude, and all the spiritual reflections that are suppose to happen during this time of the year cannot be found in pathology. They were not created there but they do end there. If your goal for the holidays is to find some peace, joy, hope, and love then don’t spend it where and with whom it cannot be found. On December 26 and January 2 you will be a lot happier for not having attempted for the millionth time, to find happiness where it does not reside.


~ Stop idealizing–you are who you are, it is what it is, pathology is pathology. If your family isn’t perfect, they certainly WON’T be during the season. Accept yourself and others for who they are. This includes accepting that pathology cannot and will not be different during the Holidays simply because you want the Christmas fantasy. Emotional suffering is created in the moment when we don’t accept what ‘is.’ (Eckart Tolle)

~ Don’t feel pressured to eat more/spend more/drink more than you want to. Remind yourself you have choices and that the word ‘No’ is a complete sentence. Don’t get held hostage to exhausting holiday schedules.

~ Take quiet time during the season or you’ll get run over by the sheer speed of the holidays. Pencil it in like you would any other appointment. Buy your own present now–some bubble bath and spend quality time with some bubbles by yourself. Light a candle, find 5 things to be grateful for. Repeat often.

~ Take same-sex friends to parties and don’t feel OBLIGATED to go with someone you don’t want to go with. People end up in the worse binds of going to parties with others and get stuck in relationships they don’t want to be in because of it. Find a few other friends who are willing to be ‘party partners’ during the holidays.

~ Give to others in need. The best way to get out of your own problems is to give to others whose problems exceed yours. Give to a charity, feed the homeless, buy toys for kids.

~ Find time for spiritual reflection. It’s the only way to really feel the season and reconnect. Go to a church service, pray, reflect.

~ Pick ONE growth oriented issue you’d like to focus on for 2012 for your own growth on January 1. It produces hope to know you have a plan to move forward and out of your current emotional condition. Contact us and let us help you work on that for the new year. Invest in your opportunity to grow past the aftermath of this pathological love relationship.

~ Plant joy–in your self, in your life and in others. What you invest in your own recovery is also reaped in the lives of those closest to you.

Happy Holidays from the The Institute