For some, time spent with family is simply terrifying, and the experience can leave us feel emotionally drained and unbalanced for days -if not weeks- after

Hooray! You made it through the first couple of days of 2017 already! I am so excited at the prospect of a new year. So many plans, goals and dreams. But lets look back on the last weeks of 2016, how did you get on?

The holidays cause stress for so many people. For some, the expectation of time spend with family is simply terrifying, and the experience can leave us feel drained and unbalanced for days -if not weeks- after.

“I remember that the holidays always used to make me feel exhausted. All the pretense, emotional blackmail… “

Every single family occasion, and the holidays in particular, would somehow end with a fight, a retaliation or the silent treatment.

“Interacting with toxic people is a little like playing Emotional Russian Roulette. By that I mean that you never know which version of the person will be on the other side of the door.”

No matter how much I attempted to make it better. To prepare the perfect meal, get the best gifts, make sure I took enough breaks not to let things build up so much. No matter how many deep breaths I took, or how many remarks I tried to just ignore. The evening would always somehow leave me damaged. I would feel exhausted or even sometimes would break down in tears when I got home.

That level of strain and stress is not normal. It may well be your normal -as it once was mine- but it is not normal.

“The wish for my mother to visit was always a push and pull. I dreaded that energy-draining, negative experience but also had a profound wish for my mother to want to come spend time with me.”

If you recognize those feelings, you may want to consider what that means. That is why I asked if the Holidays left you emotionally drained. You see, feeling tired from the partying, the eating and drinking… Having a bit of an emotional hangover now that the cold reality of life is setting in again, fair enough. But feeling completely emotionally drained and chewed out? That should not be the case.

Perhaps It Is Time to Reflect

If this is how you feel now, and perhaps is how you feel after other family gatherings too, perhaps it is time to reflect. Are there underlying patterns and behaviors that create a toxic dynamic in your family? Is there one person who always seems to be at the eye of the storm?

“My mother had a habit of disintegrating into screams and then yell at the other person: “stop yelling at me!
Don’t be fooled, people who create drama, and then portray themselves as the victim are playing games. They are manipulating you to behave the way they want, to distract you from an argument or to stop you from confronting them with their bad behavior.”

Figuring out what is really going on can be complicated and even somewhat terrifying. However knowing what you are dealing with can help you cope and look for solutions that work for you.

Does that mean cutting all contact with your family or filing for divorce? Maybe. But every situation is different, and so are the solutions that people use. What is important though, if you are dealing with toxic people and emotional abuse, that you create (emotional) distance and protect yourself.

“For me, it meant understanding and accepting that I was not part of a loving family. And even though I had already felt unloved and unlovable for a long time, that was a hard fact to accept. I have never felt so alone in my life. […] Of course at the same time, I felt the world opened in possibilities I had never thought existed for me.”

Where to Start and What to Do

We created this website especially for people who are dealing with toxic people and emotional abuse. We look at different situations (parental, romantic, work related) and talk about the ways toxic people affect us. and more importantly how we can heal from those effects.

“Like so many victims of non-physical abuse, I thought there was something wrong with me that made the relationship with my parents so troublesome. Even as I grew older and could see their behavior was not normal, I would still assumed that I held the responsibility. I figured I must be awful and unlovable if not even my parents could find it in their hearts to appreciate me!
I can see now that more often than not I assumed to role of adult in my parental relationship. When I could feel the tension building, I was often the person that suggested we sit down and talk. When my mother was being particularly impossible, I would give in to her whimsy in order to solve the issue. And so when things got worse, I would doubt myself, would try to adjust my behavior, would try to figure out what was wrong with me.”

You may think that abuse is too strong a word for the tension in your family or relationship.

That’s okay.

The information on this website can still help you to identify and address unhealthy behavioral patterns in your family or relationship. This may make you realize there is more going on that you thought, or it may help you change some of these dynamics and improve the relationships.

We have organised our articles, podcasts, webinars and forums into these 5 categories:

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Having gained experience while working for a variety of European non-profits, I am proud to now work with SwanWaters. My connection with the website is not only professional. I am glad to tap into my personal experiences to help those who are living in toxic relationships whether with parents, partners or in their professional life. We need to make the world more aware of the devastating effects of emotional abuse and help more people on their way to heal and thrive.
For some, time spent with family is simply terrifying, and the experience can leave us feel emotionally drained and unbalanced for days -if not weeks- after

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