Coping with Holiday Age Regression.

I remember a disjointed discussion with my father in the nursing home.  He said something that made me feel like a child and I asked him, “How old do you think I am, anyway Dad?”  He looked confused and said, “What are you, 15?  No, that can’t be!  You must be at least 20 now.”

My father had developed dementia at the end of his life and yet, long before this incident I felt as if he had me frozen at some earlier age.  For instance, he always seemed to be shocked that I could drive a car.

As the holidays approach, we may spend more time with family, and as we get into the family force field, we can be immediately regressed to some age between 4 and 18.  In most cases, the family’s view of us just never grew up with us.  The family force field is very powerful, and we may contribute to it ourselves, seeing our parents as all powerful or our siblings as brats.

It’s difficult to be a powerful 50 year old when the whole clan treats you like a pre teen.  Even if your mother coddles you, the price for this coddling is to go home feeling quite depleted.  Avoiding the gathering can make the problem worse, you naughty brat!

This phenomenon is the family’s collusion to stay in the past and avoid of the present moment.  And sometimes, they will vigorously reject your attempts to change the dynamic.  After all, it’s comforting to believe that Father knows best or that your sister doesn’t have emotional problems.   But assuming you want to live in the present, how do you keep your power and sanity without giving up your relatives?

It might help to move the festivities out of the parental home, but the siblings can still be expert at keeping you regressed to that teen who snuck out the bathroom window to see her boyfriend.

The solution, of course, is to spend the holidays somewhere far, far away, from which airfare is prohibitive.  However, if you cannot swing relocation or you live in an airline hub, you might try getting completely centered and staying in the present moment.  This can be done with martial arts, mediation, or yoga.  You may not convince your family that you’re really 45 now, but then again, you might.  The point is to convince yourself of who you are right now.

You can also borrow a tactic from NLP (neurolinguistic programming) called a pattern interrupt.  In normal parlance, this is a distraction.  When your brother begins his recitative about your disastrous choice of mates, you say something like, “Is that a bear in the yard?” or “Who’s peeking in the window?”  which jolts everyone’s attention away from your brother and into the yard.

Of course you must use this sparingly or you’ll end up like the boy who cried wolf.  And, for safety reasons you should avoid distractions like yelling “fire!” in a movie theater or out on the rifle range.

Happy Thanksgiving.  Enjoy your special turkeys!

1 Response to “Coping with Holiday Age Regression.”

  1. 1 Sheila York November 17, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    Thank You, Ruth…perfect timing….See you soon.

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