by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghNovember 18, 2019 family estrangement, family loss, holiday traditions0 comments
1o Ways to Enjoy The Holidays if You Experience Family Estrangement or Loss
Holidays are extremely triggering and difficult for those who have suffered family loss/grief or estrangement, there are reasons that mental health related hospital admisssions and therapy visits for anxiety and depression increase during this time of year. Most people who are in therapy to deal with family conflict or estrangement will spend some time forming a plan for how they will manage the holidays in anticipation of the challenges that they present. There is a hallmark sentiment that everyone else has it all together and is rejoicing in love with their near and dear and for those who do not have healthy or connected relationships with their families, they may notice the added burden of shame for this reality. The truth is family conflict and tension is very common and family estrangement is too, according to research published by Psychology Today, as many as 7-27% of parents and children report not having contact with each other. That means that 1 in 10 or 20 people you know can relate to the feeling of family estrangement. Additionally, if you reason suffered a loss or divorce, the mourning will likely increase this time of the year. Toxic relationships are a common reason for family estrangement, if your family members, have tried family counseling and still can not relate to you in a healthy way then there may be no choice but to limit contact or go no contact. Things like a history of abuse, lying, deception, emotional or physical attacking are healthy reasons to put safe distance and plenty of boundaries between yourself and family members.
Holidays are steeped in traditions that are centered around the family. During the rest of the year, it may be easier to cope with the reality of no or low contact, but the social implication that other people are connecting with family spending days and weeks off of work to gather around the table and reconnect, may make a person who is excluded from such family gatherings melancholy or wishful for something else that doesn’t exist. Here are expert verified ways to help;
- Ramp up your self care, practice more meditation, mindfulness, get appointments scheduled with your therapist.
- There is a stigma attached to being isolated and cast out from your family, that makes it less likely that those who are not in touch with relatives will talk about it and seek the support that they will need. Help starts when we break that stigma and open up to some close friends or coworkers about what you are experiencing.
- It is likely that there are people who will be excited to share this time of year with you, reach out to them and share your thoughts about feeling alone.
- Look at what traditions you can create for yourself?
- Can you organize a toy drive, or a food drive?
- Can you volunteer to visit a long-term care home?
- Can you volunteer at a soup kitchen?
- Can you mentor children?
- Can you organize a baking party with friends?
- Have you thought of taking a trip like a tropical vacation?
You will notice that many of these suggestions highlight being of service to others, this really is one of the best ways to lift yourself up. No matter what you decide, the holidays become a blank canvas for you to create whatever you might envision upon it. Only you can decide what is the best direction for you to maintain peace, mental wellness, and happiness during the holidays and the rest of the year and it is your sole job to protect your peace and wellbeing.Learn More
by Stephanie McCrackenMay 23, 2014 counseling, couples counseling, marriage counseling, personal growth, psychotherapy0 comments
Love and relationships, the eternal dance of distance and estrangement from love, we are all in the process of moving closer and farther away from loves enchanting melody. While marriages and long term relationships have their own challenges there too are many reasons why single life can be a stress of its own, particularly as men and women are recently divorced or just plain single in there 30’s, 40’s, and beyond. Most of us expect that a 20 year old is safe to explore that world and not be married or living with someone as this is a part of the process of life. Yet I often here even younger clients exploring the possibility that there is something pathological about their lack of romantic attachment in the 20’s and even teen years. It is without doubt that it is a healthy longing to share one’s life with a love partners, some profound thinkers even note that this is one of the major goals of life. Sigmund Freud famously states that psychotherapy’s work is done when one is able to “work and to love.” The scanning notation that there seem to be more weddings and baby showers in the planner may cue one into the fact that this is the time in the life cycle where many chose to create a marriage and even populate it with some tiny tots. Yet, there are many who feel forbidden by so many responsibilities within work, or such “poor luck in love” that they happily turn to other goals instead of risking a painful breakup or heartbreak by falling in love or marriage again. What does the reader think of this? Is single living a valid stance or do you advocate for relationship hopping? What does the singleton do when the social cues of family and friends offer such questioning as “I have someone I want you to meet!”It is this psychotherapist’s belief that single time as an opportunity towards reflection and self-discovery. Single is certainly a valid stance in today’s world, with other lifestyle focal points being multiple, we may attune ourselves to friendship, careers, create a social calendar so full that there is no moment to spare for relationships. With little to no spare time coupled with high ideals for our “end all-be all” alpha and omega relationship or marriage love which may make the realities of the not so fairy tale romances less than appealing. Simultaneously, there is the inverse of love avoidance where individuals haphazardly navigate from love to love, or even remain in relationships long after their expiration date has come to pass simply because they do not want to be alone the world. Most of us as humans simply want to minimize guilt and misery that comes when we become fixated on the “would have” and “should haves” and “musts” of our life course, and to maximize the pleasures which come from loving and being in wholeness. We are weighed down when we think, “I am supposed to have everything figured out by now”, “I am supposed to be married by (insert age, 24, 34, 44)”. Reality isn’t so cut and dry, we seldom obtain our goals in the linear fashion in which our ideals expect. In life, we sometimes reach a summit to realize that there is much more open territory beyond, or become married to realize that in all of our haste we coupled with a person who is not a suitable match!
It is this therapist’s assertion that reflective and self-nurturing time is a worthy salve in managing such risks and reveling in such bliss. Yet I also believe that among other things an effective counseling process will have aided the client on the road towards Freud’s psychotherapeutic goal which encourages “to love and to work.” It takes courage to face the world alone, even if it’s just for a little while, yet too it takes tremendous courage to love particularly when we have paid its high price in the past. I highly recommend that any person who has recently broken off a relationship adopt some time devotedly to becoming at one with single, it is within that self-nurturance that one is able to foster a greater and more reflective relationship with the self, enhancing all of the other facets to living a full and meaningful life before moving closer yet again to another person’s heart, in the eternal dance of loving human relationships.
In love and good health,
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Psychotherapist, Reviving Minds Therapy
1010 Western Avenue
Pittsburgh Pa 15233
by Stephanie McCrackenMarch 19, 2014 counseling, couples counseling, couples therapy, marriage counseling, sexuality, Uncategorized0 comments
As a psychotherapist who offers marriage counseling, affairs and their aftermath are sometimes ironed out amidst my office couch. Both parts of the couple struggle to make sense of the betrayal and its costs, they often seek a professional to find the answers to questions such as; should we stay together, should we separate, will our relationship ever be “normal,” (whatever version that may be for you), again. For both of the lovers there are painful truths to identify, the person who was cheating must come to terms with his or her guilt and the person who was victimized by the cheating may wonder if it is acceptable to forgive or if this somehow means that they are weak or foolish. While the answers to all of the many questions are highly complex, completely personal, and entirely up to you, if the affair has been ended and both lovers actively choose to stay there are abundant ways that you will both be able to enjoy the effects of an enhanced love bond! Here are some of the reasons why your love can rebound from an affair and be even closer and more intimate than before, provided that you both are willing and able to put in the time and work to make some big changes through the healing process.
- The affair itself is a symptom of a greater and deeper underlying problem. That problem could be anything from one of the partners acting upon impulses from narcissism, entitlement, and or sex addiction, or that there are some deficits in the relational component. For example, when the relationship is stuck in a pattern of withholding, and or criticism, when it is lacking in warmth, passion, communication and sometimes this causes one of the parties to conclude that she or he should look outside of the commitment to fill certain interpersonal needs. The affair must be understood as a symptom but also, if it addressed successfully, within every problem is an opportunity for the solution to be uncovered. Now you are free to explore the solution to the underlying issue.
- The time after the affair has been disclosed or discovered will be hallmarked by raw and real interaction, this kind of communication facilitates rebuilding. Obviously there will be a serious mourning phase caused by shattered trust and therefor many questions about who, what, when, where, and why. You both must be honest about what exactly is transpiring during this time. As the anguish ebbs allow the new to emerge. This honest and direct communication will feel refreshing as most often during an affair the communication had been stifled, the newfound open honesty will feel refreshing and serve as a great reminder to understand all of the ways that each partner was turning away from true intimate interaction previously.
- Your relationship will never be the same again and that very well could be a good thing considering the path to the affair is likely paved by anguish and deceit. Like a home that is being rebuilt there will be new walls and windows for the relationship, walls between the person who was conducting the affair and the man or woman who was facilitating the cheating, as well as shiny and new windows of transparency between the love partners. The windows should be framed in the light of honesty, openness, you may even want to place a chair nearby for reflective time, and renovations take time, work, and are not for the faint of heart!
To close and to be repetitive, the person who was having the affair must be completely honest and know that trust may not be given immediately or for a very long time to come. A message for the person who suffered the betrayal- recognize that you are healing within the cycle of grief. From anguish, anger, disbelief and all the way around you must place your long term intentions upon your healing and forgiveness for the cheating spouse. Keep your eyes on the prize however as if it is in your will, you both will eventually move beyond this troubling time and into a better relationship which will someday be capable of casting meaning upon this day when you are suffering the effect of the human misgivings of betrayal.
Sharing in happiness and love,
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Reviving Minds Therapy
1010 Western Avenue Pittsburgh
Pa 15233 Suite 100