5 Ways to Survive the Holidays While in a Toxic Relationship
Are you looking for ways to survive the holidays while in a toxic relationship?
With everything else that is going on during the holidays, does your toxic relationship increase your stress and keep you from enjoying what is wonderful about the season?
Daily life is hard enough in a toxic relationship. Are you wondering how you will be able to make it through the holidays this year without losing your mind?
There are ways to survive the holidays while in a toxic relationship and reading this article is an excellent first step for you to do so.
So, how does one survive the holidays while in a toxic relationship?
#1 – Avoid triggers.
Be honest with yourself. There must be triggers that can turn your relationship from good to bad, maybe even on the turn of a dime. I am guessing those triggers are pretty consistent and you know exactly what they are.
I would encourage you to take stock of those triggers and to do whatever you can to avoid them during the holiday season.
If you always fight about putting up the Christmas lights, perhaps just let your partner do it this year. If you always fight about your relationship with your parents, try to figure out a way to not have that be an issue. If you always fight because the house is messy, perhaps make an extra effort to keep it tidy.
A toxic relationship is a minefield of triggers, things that usually make things turn sour. If you can avoid them, and maybe even talk to your partner about avoiding them too, you are way more likely to survive the holidays while in a toxic relationship.
#2 – Don’t expect things to be different.
Every year, many people in toxic relationships go into the holidays hoping that things are going to be different this year. Hoping that the disaster that was last Christmas won’t happen again or that the toxicity that pervades your daily life will dissipate during the holiday season.
Unfortunately, unless you and your partner have been able to work on your toxic relationship over the course of the past year, things most likely won’t be different.
For my ex and me, whenever a birthday or holiday approached, there was an issue around spending time with family. How I had spent my birthdays and holidays was very different from how he had spent his. I wanted to be at home with just our immediate family and he wanted to travel to see his extended family. Every holiday we fought about what we were going to do. And, every holiday, once it was over, we just ignored what had happened and moved on. Until the next holiday and the issue, and the fighting, came up again.
This issue was a huge bone of contention with my ex and as Christmas approached, it became even BIGGER! Pretty much the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas we struggled with this issue. And it made the holidays significantly less enjoyable.
And, every year, because we hadn’t dealt with the issue earlier, the monster raised its ugly head again.
I believe that, if we had made an effort to deal with it over the years, instead of just ignoring it, then things might actually have had a chance to be different.
But we didn’t – and things just remained the same.
#3 – Control your own emotions and reactions.
You cannot change someone else nor can you change someone else’s emotional reactions but you can change yours.
I am sure that the toxic encounters you have with your partner bring out many emotions. Anger, contempt, unhappiness and frustration are a few that come to mind. And those emotions can get BIG and make those encounters even worse!
I would encourage you to try, during this holiday season, to control those emotions. To try to not let them make issues even bigger.
If your partner does something that normally triggers you, I would encourage you to pause and take a deep breath before you react. Pause and notice what your emotions are. And, if you can, take a few more deep breaths and try to calm down your nervous system so that you don’t react in a destructive way.
If you can control your emotions, if you can control your reactions to your partner’s behaviors, you might be able to take the toxicity down a notch and that might go a long way towards being able to survive the holidays while in a toxic relationship.
#4 – Ask family and friends for help.
Many of our family and friends know that we are in toxic relationships and many of them do what they can to support us throughout the year. And yet, for some reason, during the holiday season, things can be different. People get caught up in their own stuff and forget about yours.
I would encourage you to, if your friends or family are in any way contributors to the toxicity in the holiday, ask them for help.
My mother used to help me get through the holidays. How? By accepting the fact that I would not be able to spend a lot of time with her because I had to spend time with my ex’s family. She made an extra special effort to get us all together another time with year, a time of year that wasn’t full of the holiday craziness. Not only did this help her to not be disappointed at Christmas, but it also tempered the conflict between my ex and me and that made Christmas just a little bit more bearable.
Being in a toxic relationship is hard to manage on your own. If you can ask for the support of those who love you, it might help you survive the holidays while in a toxic relationship in a way that might be different from if you were doing it on your own.
#5 – Know that the holidays will end.
So many of us dread this holiday season because of everything that happens. All the present buying, the baking, the pressure to see family etc. will put a tremendous amount of pressure on any relationship. The pressure on a toxic relationship is even more so.
What I always tell people to keep in mind is that ,on January 2, the holiday season will be over. All the pressure that they are struggling with will be over. And with the holidays being over, things can go back to normal.
I know that, if you are in a toxic relationship, normal isn’t necessarily a great thing but normal is probably better than it is during the holiday season. And, when you get to January 2, you will have actually survived another holiday! Well done!
Surviving the holidays while in a toxic relationship can be very difficult to do.
Many of the things that I have suggested are things that YOU can do to get through this crazy time. I know you don’t believe that you should have to make all the compromises to keep your relationship on even ground during the holidays but if you truly want to survive them, making compromises might be the key.
Again, you can not change someone else’s reactions and behaviors, but you can change your own. And that is the key to survival this season – your reactions.
All of this being said, January is the time of year where the high numbers of people file for divorce. Many people think, after the dreadful holiday season, that they just can’t do this one more year. As a result, they walk away. And this just might be an option for you. If you can keep your head down and get through the holiday season, you might be able to make change on the other side.
In the meantime, knowing ways to survive the holidays while in a toxic relationship is an important way to keep yourself together and to enjoy the holidays as best you can.
You can do it!