Posted by Steps to Recovery on December 15, 2012

In just a few days I am headed out to visit my family in the midwest. Home for the holidays if you will…Even though I am really truly looking forward to 3 weeks with them, I always get a little weary about visiting family, there are a lot of triggers with that for me. It never fails that stuff comes up that is uncomfortable or someone ends up feeling hurt.

My mom and I don’t really communicate that well sometimes. Whenever we visit there is always 1 difficult situation at least. She is extremely sensitive and takes everything very personally. For example, if I’m tired and don’t feel like talking, I must be mad at her. (I have a 21 month old nursling, I get pretty tired sometimes when she nurses all night long.) If I want to spend time with other people (family) that she doesn’t like being around, she feels hurt and is quick to blame me for the way she is feeling. These kinds of things. It is really hard for me, I feel like I need to caretake her feelings a lot and it’s hard to stay centered and authentic in myself and give in to that. It’s hard for me to hear what she is really saying in those times, which is that she misses me and wants to have all of my attention. It can be really overwhelming.

My dad and I have always had a rough relationship. He is a very manipulative person, and was abusive when I was younger, even as a young adult and into my 20’s. I feel like I have to keep my guard up around him or he could easily slip back into that kind of behavior. It’s really scary for me, if I don’t stay centered and present I begin to feel really small and vulnerable around him. He has big energy that is still, even though I am in my 30’s, very scary to me. It’s a conscious effort to really stand up for myself and not allow that old way of existing around my dad to overcome me.

Not to mention that addiction runs in the family…Although most of my family is recovering now. These are just a few examples, the ones that are on my mind the most right now as I prepare to go home. Could I just avoid all of this triggering stuff altogether? Yes, I did it for many years. I didn’t see either of my parents for 7 years straight at one point, and really didn’t even speak to them during that time either. But still, something always calls me back, and it’s my heart. I do love them so very much and no one is getting any younger, that is for sure.

One thing I learned that is so valuable to me in recovery is that you have to meet people where they are. You have to love them as they are. These things aren’t really about me, they are about them. And now that I have learned how to care for myself and really stand up for myself, I can see that and I can also see how to navigate through those situations. I also believe that these situations are learning experiences that are important for my ongoing personal growth. As difficult as it is, weathering these types of things contributes deeply to my sense of self worth.

Does your family trigger you? What are your family triggers? How do you deal with it?