The Webster Dictionary uses the first few words of it's definition of vulnerability to say "capable or susceptible to being wounded or hurt..." (2016). Many individuals are vulnerable during the holidays. This is a time where family gets together or doesn't, and that can stir up a great deal of intently hurtful or wounding feelings and behaviors. Many treat the holiday get togethers as something they must grin and bear with family members or family friends around that symbolize great pain or upset in their lives, or as something they must suffer through quietly while grieving a loss in their lives. There is a "keep everything copacetic vibe" during this time, many just want to get it over with as soon as possible and ruffle the least amount of feathers.
So what is so wrong with this way of coping? Well, for one, it engraves a patterned annual behavior that guarantees an absence of genuine healing from a loss or dysfunction in a relationship, and it also prevents the vulnerable individual from being taken care of and achieving an ability to move on and begin to create new special memories around the holidays. The person remains frozen in time with a groundhog-day-type annual nightmare of one dreaded holiday season after the other.
So what am I suggesting? That if we are suffering around the holiday season that we do not pretend everything is perfect, that we don't show up at each gathering saying "everything's good, what about you?" I want to challenge those of us that are hurting and feeling vulnerable to share that with those we trust. If we use caring, considerate language and use I statements such as "I am actually having a hard time because this is around the time my divorce was settled last year" or to a particular family member "We used to be so close, and since that falling out we had, I miss you and these holiday gatherings are awkward now for me" etc. Revealing our vulnerability sets the stage for deep meaningful conversations that are progressive and mobilizing in relationships. When we reveal our vulnerability to one another it can feel scary and the questions of the unknown may take hold, but it is often reciprocated with genuine feedback from the other person that is empathetic, nurturing, and healing. Remember that your suffering is not a burden on others during this time, often times a sense of relief will come over the other person being shared with, as it allows for a safe space for them to reveal their own struggles and vulnerability. Just because it is the holiday season doesn't mean we have to wrap a pretty perfect bow around everything. Life is messy and complicated and full of pain in a lot of ways, that doesn't go away during the month of December so reach out to others and connect in meaningful ways that allow you to receive the nurturing you need, and also to extend your own ability to nurture others. Remember Mr. Frost's saying: the only way around something is through