It’s that time of year again! Are you making your lists and checking them twice? Do you have your dad’s favorite holiday pie for the big dinner? The holidays are here and this is the time of sharing, making memories, and connecting with the people you love in your life the most, your friends and family.
What about the people who don’t have loved ones to make memories with during the holidays? What about the people who do not have other people with which to connect? I once read, “The opposite of addiction is connection.” Most of us would agree that the opposite of addiction is sobriety or refraining from an addictive behavior, so I am curious to know where an idea like this would originate, and I find myself questioning where behaviors are developed and how behaviors are created. Even when we have loved ones in our lives, we can still feel alone or disconnected because it does not feel safe to discuss our feelings. How is that we can have all of the support in the world and still not reach out to anyone? This line of thinking is the reason I got into the field of helping people heal and change. How do we go from connection or lack thereof to addiction?
Substance abuse or addiction is a continued use of something: illicit drugs, prescription drugs, alcohol, sex, food, shopping etc., despite the consequences. Why would people continue to use something that is detrimental to their health and wellbeing? All behavior comes from unmet needs. Gambling or viewing pornography creates a rush of dopamine or a serotonin release in the brain, which is literally a “feel good” feeling. People use these things to feel good in order to meet their needs. Why would someone need to use these things to feel good? Aren’t there other, healthier things that make people feel happy? Yes, connecting with other human beings is a healthier way to meet one’s needs.
We as humans are built to connect with each other and form relationships. We make friends at the park before we start kindergarten. Our grandparents got married before going to college. I am referring to our innate need to bond and attach to each other. That warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you see your person is not an imagined feeling; that is the pleasure neurotransmitter being released in your brain, you feel a dopamine surge when you look into your loved one’s eyes. These are the same emotions shared between a mother and child during breastfeeding; this is connection.
Holidays can elicit this feeling of a lack of connection for those people who do not have friends and family in their lives or even for people who do have a support system. The holidays can bring out the best and worst in people. We are all less than perfect, we are humans. Families fight, we get into unhealthy relationships, friends move away, and then we are left with a lack of connection. Escalated discords lead to a divide or an estrangement from one’s family of origin, again resulting in a lack of connection. Life transitions, like going away to school, being widowed, living in a new town, being single, and not having any children can all be a lack of connection. Some of us are lucky to still have our friends and family in our lives, but then there are the societal expectations, dysfunctional families, and stress that comes with these expectations that also causes a lack of connection.
The feeling of disconnection can feel unbearable. Humans do not like to feel pain, and this can escalate to not wanting to feel at all, hence addictions and just wanting to feel good. Not wanting to feel can also be done without an altering substance or external behavior, this is called dissociation. We don’t know how to get our needs met, it doesn’t feel safe, and we don’t feel accepted, so we don’t want to connect. People have to disconnect to survive. The pain we experience from people we love is so hard to endure, our brains and our bodies have created a way to check out in order to maintain a relationship or a connection. The holidays can be a trigger for a lot people to experience depression, anxiety, and activate traumatic memories that can lead to isolation, hopelessness, and despair.
Trauma is a threat you weren’t prepared to handle. The disconnection from your loved ones is a traumatic attachment wound. Trauma is not only PTSD from a combat experience, a violent attack, or a car accident. Trauma is anything that had an adverse effect on you and still does, shaping the way you think, act, and feel. Complex trauma is experiencing a threat you were not prepared to deal with paired with an attachment deficit. This means everyone experiences trauma. Some experts even say that “anything less than nurturing behavior” can cause trauma in a young child. The definition of trauma has helped me to provide a better level of care to my patients. Decreasing the stigma and normalizing traumatic situations and the effects of trauma has been influential for encouraging people to get the help they really need.
There is help for people who have experienced trauma or a lack of connection. You don’t have to carry around the pain you may be experiencing. You don’t have to continue to be unhappy, angry, or bitter. You don’t have to continue feeling resentful in unhealthy relationships. The holidays are an influence that can bring out the feelings of disconnection at a time when you are seeking to connect with family and friends. The holidays are not always so bright and cheery, as is life. Allow the holidays to trigger your symptoms and then take action to get the help you deserve. Infinite Healing and Wellness is a place where you can receive the treatment and heal from all of the things affecting your quality of life. We are all clinicians who specialize in treating the root of the issues, not just the symptoms. You can be your most authentic self and meet your goals of being happy and healthy, without continuing to re-experience your past. We teach you ways to restructure your world and help you learn to connect in a way that works for you.
Infinite Healing and Wellness
We offer a level of service that is a step above other therapy services you may have tried in the past. We believe in a holistic approach to treat both the mind and body. Infinite Healing and Wellness provides various groups to service our community: mindfulness, codependence, mediation, men’s anger management, first responder’s support group, chronic pain, DBT, and psychoeducation classes, along with individual therapy and medication management services to help patients reach goals of finding ways to make healthy connections.
Dr. Chante Pantila is an EMDR Approved Consultant and all clinicians at Infinite Healing and Wellness specialize in using EMDR therapy. We also offer a monthly EMDR study group to support clinicians in the valley and enhance clinical skills in treating the lack of connection.
Infinite Healing and Wellness is located at 2563 S. Val Vista Dr. Suite 108 in Gilbert. Contact us at 480-448-1076 or firstname.lastname@example.org
to schedule your appointment and experience your limitless opportunities for growth!
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