I’ve spoken with many partners of sex addicts over the years who absolutely dread “The Holidays” – they would love to have the month of December erased from the calendar, fearful of the stress, awkwardness and potential for triggers holiday activities can bring. Most partners say they don’t want to pretend everything is “normal” with family and friends and so are tempted to avoid holiday gatherings altogether. Others have memories of holidays in the past that now feel tainted in response to new knowledge of what was “really going on” at the time. Her memories don’t feel trustworthy.
So what are some ways to get through the holidays?
Here are six tips appropriate for partners of sex addicts who are stressed, hurt, grieving and anxious about how to survive the holiday season:
Have reasonable expectations. Even in the best of times, holiday expectations can get way out of hand. Keep it simple.
Do it differently. Give yourself the freedom to celebrate the holidays in ways that are new or different. Some choose to go out of town; others choose to have smaller gatherings or to take a vacation from giving and receiving gifts.
Ask for what you need. Tell others what you’d like or what you don’t want to see happen as you navigate this season.
Avoid over-doing. This includes food, alcohol, sleep…whatever activities or substances that are tempting for you to abuse or over-use to find comfort. Avoid being over-active as well! Allow time to rest, to contemplate, or to focus on the priorities.
Embrace traditions that help you. Holiday music, religious observances, or time with close friends may be just the things to help encourage you or bring comfort. What things in your life or belief system give you a sense of comfort, peace, hope or a vision of something or someone bigger than you and your pain?
Give yourself the gift of grace. Allow yourself to hurt, fall apart, detach, or experience anger – to be honest about where you are. Allow yourself to enjoy what you can enjoy. Be present and honest- these can bring a sense of congruence and integrity.
I hope and pray for a peaceful and meaningful Holiday Season for each of you.
Hold the dates!
The Association of Partners of Sex Addicts Trauma Specialists (APSATS) announces their inaugural training for certification! Our first training program will be offered in the Dallas Texas area June 26- 29, 2013. I am very excited to be a presenter at this first-of-its-kind training. Specific location and details on how to register will be coming very soon! I can’t express in words the depth of gratitude and excitement I feel as I anticipate seeing therapists and coaches encouraged and trained to provide support and healing to partners.