The Holiday Season is upon us and for Partners of Sex Addicts the stress can become unbearable. Here are a few ideas to help you through the Holidays and deal with all that holiday stress.
Ahhhh…the holiday season. Blinking colored lights everywhere, crowded malls, shopping lists, noise, everyone telling you their wants and needs, your most hateful family members promising to invade your space and those damn holiday tunes that keep playing in your head long after you have left the dentist office, car wash, hardware store, or ___________ (you fill in the blank) that presume that everyone’s holiday should look like a Norman Rockwell painting.
Looks like massive stress to me!
Holidays are particularly difficult for Partners of Sex Addicts. No matter how close or how far out from Discovery we are the holidays are just loaded with triggers that threaten to crumble us into a sobbing, fetal position heap on the bathroom floor.
Because the holidays (and anniversaries, birthdays, and all significant events) are highly emotional our brains remember those times with unusual clarity and details. Memories of laughter and love, happiness, connection and sharing–memories that use to warm us and make us smile on a bad day–now make our good days bad and our bad days even worse.
It’s an unfortunate fact that Sex Addicts are at their worst during times of stress–and they experience stress in the most everyday situations, so holidays, celebrations, vacations or any minor change in the atmosphere will send them off on their evil journey to medicate themselves.
Discovery often reveals that what we experienced during those joyful times were, in actuality, some of the worst times. Memories of what used to be turned out to be a lie. Flashbacks of happier times are tainted with discoveries of unbelievable truths about what they were really thinking and doing.
This makes the holidays a dangerous time for all of us. Once we experience Discovery we are forever changed in more ways than we can imagine. We are forced to rewrite our entire history and our relationship with these men. What we thought was real was a facade. What we thought was happy was a nightmare. And significant dates, anniversaries and holidays become days of dread.
So, what can we do? Certainly there is a time for extreme grief, rage, anger, disbelief and even denial. But eventually we must face reality and somehow find ways to deal with these significant dates with a sense of peace.
Ha! Easier said than done you say!
Yes, that’s true, but there are many things we can do to help ourselves weather the holidays without going completely bonkers.The most important thing that we can do is to take care of ourselves. We must go easy on ourselves, forget all those outrageous expectations and give ourselves a break. Here’s some things that have worked for me.
1. Sleep. Sleep as much as you can. Stress uses up a lot of calories and weakens our immune system. Sleep renews us.
2. Eat. Eat as much as you want, this is no time to stress over calories. See number one.
3. Downsize. Buy only one small gift for everyone on your list. Let’s face it. Even in these tough economic times we still all have way more than we need.
4. Delegate. If they are breathing they can help. Ask gently and always say ‘Thank You’.
5. Just say ‘No’. Everyone wants you during the holidays, and there is usually some sort of work involved. You have enough of your own work to do. Just politely say, ‘That just won’t fit into my busy schedule.’ or for those obnoxiously pushy people a sincere– or even a well stated and sarcastic, ‘I don’t think so.’ always works.
6. Put the Sex Addiction on hold. Just make a deal with yourself that you need a break during tough times. Allow yourself to be Scarlett O’Hara and ‘think about it tomorrow’.
7. Buy yourself a present. Who is more important than you? That’s right–no one. No, not even your children. If you don’t take care of yourself you will not be there for them emotionally or physically. Buy yourself something really special, something that stretches your budget just a bit to make it really count. Wrap it up and put a tag on it to you from you. Make yourself wait for it. Anticipate it. Smile to yourself about it. Then, when you are all alone (go into the bathroom if you must) open it and tell yourself what a wonderful present it is and how special you really are to you. Hug yourself, then go look in the mirror, look directly into your eyes and say, ‘I love you.’
8. Ask for what you need. Contrary to some popular TV shows, we are not mind readers. Expecting anyone, especially Sex Addicts, to know what we need is just plain foolishness. And, those naysayers who say, ‘Well, if I have to ask for it then it doesn’t count’, that is plain foolishness too. Just ask. Just quietly say (no demands here, you are simply asking for what you need–no hidden agendas) ‘Could you?’ or ‘Would you?’ It works every time.
9. Give what you can. To those who really need it and appreciate it. Instead of putting yourself in debt buying things that people don’t want or even care about, why not give to those who really need it. Why not buy gifts for all the children in your life and put their name on the ‘FROM’ tag. Then, take the children to a shelter or the local Toys For Tots and let them feel the joy of giving to those less fortunate. That’s your gift to them. Forget about giving to adults. They don’t need it.
10. Stop being Super Woman. If you need an anti depressant or a sleeping pill call your doctor NOW! Although I am a firm believer that natural is always better, tough times require tough medicine. These prescriptions, when taken for a short period of time, can make the difference between your holidays being a living hell or tolerable–even enjoyable. You owe that to yourself. Face it, we may think we can do everything but we will only hurt ourselves by trying.
Please add your own stress busters below. ~ JoAnn