“It doesn’t matter how old you are. The minute you set foot in your mother’s house you are 12 years old again.” – Erma Bombeck
In the midst of holiday time, thoughts turn to the family you grew up with. Though, as Erma points out, when it comes to our “first” family, it’s easy to stay in the same childhood role—long into adulthood.
All of a sudden we want to tattle on our siblings or pick fights with our parents. You may notice that you’re more conscious of what you’re eating and want to hide or restrict, or maybe you’re tempted to overeat because that’s just what’s done around here.
Here are a few coping strategies that will help you sail through the holidays as a grownup, even if you go home to your family:
- Think like a grownup. Remember your adult role in life—what you’ve accomplished and all of the grownup things (or people) you’re responsible for.
- Act like a grownup. When you notice any default behaviors, nip them in the bud and do something different. Pick your clothes up off the floor, help out in the kitchen; do whatever you can to improve other people’s holiday experience.
- Write down your thoughts. You can do this before you see your family, or even if you’re not planning to see them. A journal gives you the place to grieve any childhood issues, or the loss of childhood itself. You can also address any loneliness or other stressful feelings. This is a healthy alternative to restricting your food, or using excess food, alcohol or drugs to numb those feelings away. I’ll send some journaling resources next week.
- Embrace your inner child. Find a photo of yourself at around the age of 12. As you connect with the person you were at that age, consider how you can merge your adult self with this little self. I’ll send more resources about this next week as well.
Whether you’re planning to see your family over the holidays or not, this is a prime time to revisit your childhood so that you can face your eating disorder as the grownup you are.