Hello and welcome back to Second Chance to Live. I am happy to see that you decided to stop by to visit with me. During this time of the year – Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years – families often reunite to celebrate the holidays. When families re-unite around these holidays so do the ways in which they relate to one another. In the event that resentments exist between family members the holidays become a re-enactment of the dynamics that led to those resentments.
In families where there is alcoholism,drug addiction or other types of compulsive behaviors feeling feelings are avoided at almost any cost. I have heard it said that when people are not able or unwilling to own their responsibility many family members relate in a familiar way. In Transactional Analysis they refer to this phenomenon as “passing the hot potato”. Instead of feeling uncomfortable feelings, these feelings are passed to another family member.
Instead of feeling what is uncomfortable and unwanted the “hot-potato” is passed from one family member to another family member. Read Whose Shame are you Carrying?, What is keeping you stuck?, Displaced Sadness, Traumatic Brain Injury and the Identified Patient and Who Am I?
When members of the family do not possess the skills or know how to process uncomfortable feelings the passing of the hot potato takes on the form of blaming, shaming and or scapegoating. This behavior manifests through criticism with the fear of being abandoned emotionally and physically. Consequently, instead of the holidays bringing family members together a deterioration occurs as the family members spend more time together. What was meant to be a happy and festive time of the year seems to spiral out of control which in turn feeds the existing resentment (s).
In the event that this is or has been your experience — as a counselor – I would like to encourage you to start attending Alanon / Alateen meetings. You do not have to live your life in isolation. Here is a link to the Alanon / Alateen website http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/.
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