Christmas, Estrangement and Difficult QuestionsOne of the hardest social challenges of being estranged is trying to explain the situation to others.
There is so much dense history and complex factors which led to the family situation, that it will feel impossible to encompass years of interactions in a few sentences.
This might then be compounded with Christmas (and other holiday periods), when you might be on the receiving end of remarks such as “I pressume you will spend the holidays with your family”.
The fear of being judged for not comforming to the ‘norm’ can lead to a freeze response, where the estranged person struggles to find an appropriate response.
One way to approach this is ‘Scripting’, i.e. preparing some simple statements to have available when this happens.
These might include deflecting the question, e.g. saying “I’m not sure what’s happening yet”, withholding the truth, e.g. “Yes we will see each at some stage”, or just being upfront e.g. saying “No, I won’t be seeing them”. COVID may have also presented an excuse to say “No, we can’t visit this year”.
The response chosen will be determined by who is asking the question and the answer might vary if it is a work colleague vs a friend who knows your family. Personally, my own attitude was always that it is private information and I’m not obliged to tell anyone of my own situation…so I simply deflected and didnt go into any detail.
But I am aware others will feel the pressure to share more.
To address this, I have created the online Workshop Surviving an Estranged Christmas, where I discuss the types of scripts others have used, as well as help you staying grounded and calm in the face of this scenario.
The workshop is available to watch now…click this link to view the trailer and purchase your copy.