Sedna’s Daughters: Healing from Family Estrangement

Families in patriarchal cultures often mete out similar types of domination and oppression on their daughters that women experience in the larger world. For many daughters (and sons/trans/genderqueer folks), this includes scapegoating and rejection. Sedna’s Daughters provides a safe space for discussion on earth-based, spiritual approaches to healing from the confusing experience of family estrangement and recognizes all people's inherent belonging to Mother Earth, the human family, and the cosmos.

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Managing Upcoming Holidays--With Love

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_fd005255.jpgWith the onset of autumn marks the beginning of the holiday season. For people estranged from their biological kin, this can be a difficult time of the year; however, planning ahead can lessen the dread or denial you may feel and turn your sprint through the annual holiday corridor into a meaningful stroll filled with love. Planning ahead is critical to do this, though. Feeling condemned because your former family is no longer in your life and, therefore, neither should joyful holiday celebrations, is not true. Celebration is a human right and how, when, and with whom you do so is entirely up to you--an aggressive family doesn't get to decide that for you. Ever.

Realizing with the onset of cooler temperatures and the calendar that has been turned to November that again this year, and probably forever, you will not be spending Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Winter Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or New Year's celebrations with people who were once your family can pierce you to the quick. This is especially true for folks who believed that grieving for their lost family was over and that it was all water under the bridge now--that you've worked on your recovery and done deep healing so that the worst part of the shock is over. Then, a picture of a turkey with smiling relatives around it makes your heart flutter...the first snow makes your chest ache, and the smell of certain foods cooking reminds you of old memories, real or imagined, from times of childhood when needs were not met, emotional or physical. Ruminating on your losses, wondering, once again, how the situation with your family came to be, and considering, futilely, how another outcome could have been possible, swirls in your mind. This is tiring and can keep you up at night, even put a dark cloud over the bright autumnal skies that are there for you to enjoy.

Grieving over the loss of a beloved deceased family member at the holidays is one thing; however, struggling with the absence of parents, siblings, and extended family that rejected you or abused you to the point that you had to absent yourself from them, is another matter altogether. This is a situation that stings, and can re-trigger trauma in targets unexpectedly, especially if you may have believed the trauma was resolved ages ago. Re-experiencing the old grief, anger, and shock from family aggression can really catch a person off-guard at any holiday, so it is so important to have a safety net in place for this highly-emotional time of the year.

Some targets of family aggression can (consciously or unconsciously) choose to ignore the holidays because of their history of loss, lack of fulfillment, and terrible memories with their biological kin, and they just muddle through November and December waiting for January to blessedly arrive when they can let out a sigh of relief. This is emotional breath-holding--and two months is a long time to not breathe with the daily  workings of your heart! There is a better way, if you are interested in considering it.

First of all, if you wish to celebrate one or more of the autumn and winter holidays, which ones are they? What really speaks to your wishes and desires? What gets you even a little excited? Next, how do you want to celebrate them? This can be completely different from how you formerly celebrated them--you may wish to do something brand new that creates new memories, all your own. Making the holidays hold your own signature and fingerprints can go a long way at recapturing delight, joyful engagement, and the realization that the holidays have not been taken from you!

Thanksgiving Barbecue with Neighbors?

Turkey and Pasta with single Co-Workers?

Vegan "meatballs" with your kids and movie marathon?

Mountain hike with your four-legged bestfriend and a special dinner for two afterwards?

If you do not have a spouse or children, you may want to think about communities of need near you. The Salvation Army is always grateful for help at the holidays in order to let their regular staff have time to celebrate as they wish. Homeless shelters, Safe houses for victims of domestic violence, animal shelters whose volunteers need a day off, and children's homes all relish the support of volunteers. Check them out and see how your heart is filled by giving to others--and possibly building non-holiday relationships with these groups. This decreases a person's sense of isolation, among other life-giving benefits.

What people in your community are alone at the holidays? Neighbors? Elders? What about your friends? Co-workers? You can initiate plans for a gathering and enlist help with pulling it together. Remember, everyone loves potato latkes! No matter who you are, play klezmer music if you're feeling drab in December. It absolutely demands joy!

If you have a spouse/partner and children, making the holidays what you need them to be can also be shaped by you. Do what makes you happy...maybe you need to go to a yoga retreat and eat lentil pate for Thanksgiving or spend Christmas helping at a nursing facility for veterans! Let your heart guide you.

We at Sedna's Daughters are very aware that the version of the holidays that is handed to Americans is one of the Perfect Family with the Perfect Meal lain on an Immaculate Table--and everyone constantly smiles because there is not a problem among them! This is a complete sham, of course. This family does not exist! I know that targets of family aggression can have a lingering feeling that they are missing out on what other people have in abundance, that everyone else HAS and they have NOT. This is understandable, but, again, not true. Caving in to the aching heart that feels you have somehow missed the whole magical legacy of the holidays in your growing-up years and can never reproduce something truly special in your adult years is not true. Though you can never change how your family treats you, you can decide how you are going to treat yourself--find the solace, even if it is in service to strangers because you are alone. Step into community gatherings as much as possible, especially if there is singing involved!!

b2ap3_thumbnail_lesbian-dinner.jpgAs long as your heart still beats, there is a path you can traverse to mark the important transitions of the annual round of  the year, in whatever way that looks to you. Your foods; Your guests; Your Love can show you the way. The more love you give, the more special the holidays will be.

I will be raising a glass to all of you, saluting your courage to thrive after the shock of family aggression, and championing your journeys to find joy wherever you can as we stroll together through the holiday corridor. This holiday season, the SageWoman community is something I will be noting as the many, many things for which I am grateful, and that includes the Earth Mother who is holding me right now, the sun shining down, and the moon rising...just like they are for you!

Until next time, Love, Always, Sedna XO

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I have a Ph.D., am a victim's advocate, college-level educator, and was shunned by my maternal biological kin and their family friends over a decade ago. I have built an international community of daughters (and sons) committed to supporting one another and thriving despite the aggression of our relatives. “Sedna” is the EuroAmerican name of a revered Inuit Creatrix who was violently rejected by her parents and cast into the sea to die, but instead survived to create otters, seals, and whales.  Sedna is also the name of a star just appearing in the farthest reaches of our solar system and discovered by astronomers on November 14, 2003. Nick Anthony Fiorenza writes that "Sedna's message here is that humanity must recognize the truth about the suppression, persecution, abduction and exploitation of the feminine force in the world; and this mentality perpetuating such must be addressed and changed." Healing women is my life's work. See my Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/SednasD/

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