Toxic Parents and Quarantine
You are probably seen so many advertisements on T.V. where they are often showing the picture-perfect family getting on so well during lockdown. You see them dancing together, baking, saying how they miss each other.
There is another side to this which we often don’t hear about where this situation has brought out the absolute. What if you live with parents that depend on you for their physical needs or you are not quite ready to leave home yet for one reason or another.
You may find that your parents are emotionally and physically abusive. Or they abuse substance and are often violent. What if you are coping with toxic parents and quarantine?
There are so many family scenarios that could make lockdown almost impossible to cope with. How can you cope in such a difficult situation?
1. Don’t pretend that your family is something they are not
Don’t sugar-coat your family. Sometimes we do this to cope because it is more comfortable being in denial about who they really are.
The problem is, we are surprised when things go wrong. Don’t ignore their difficult behaviours. Use this knowledge to learn how you can cope. for example, for years you might have ignored your mum’s drinking, but you know that when she drinks too much, she becomes nasty and everything gets out of hand.
You can prepare by make a plan when her drinking gets too much. but if you pretend it is not happening you can’t make a plan.
2. Journal your thoughts and feelings
Writing down your experiences and how it is making you feel is a great way to ventilate your emotions. Here you can say what ever you like as it is important to try and keep your journal confidential. If you can’t write it down, you can always record your entries on your phone and have it password protected. A lot of these devises can be secured by finger print as well.
The benefits of journaling is that it can serve as an escape or emotional release. It also forces you to check in on everything else that is affecting you and focus on you. It can also reduce stress by helping one get rid of negative thoughts. …
3. Make the most of your time
This will help if you need to make some distance between them. If you can plan your days by doing that online course you have been putting off, learning a new language, doing something creative. You can make more use and value of your time there. It could also feel more productive.
4. Set Boundaries
Whilst it is important to choose your battles and to try not to win all arguments, even if you are right, it is important to keep your boundaries. Whether is financially, how much time you spend physically in their presence, tolerating their behaviour. Even if you are in the same house with them, you can physically remove yourself from them if it becomes too much.
Also try and make them responsible for their own behaviours. If they are drinking too much, leave them to pick up their own cans of larger and bottles of wine. Let them clear up their own cigarette butts!
5. Be clear on your standards
Know that you don’t have to be part of any poor behaviour. That includes intoxication from alcohol or any other substance misuse, anyone’s bad language or antagonising controlling behaviour. Remember you set the bar for your life.
6. Accept them as they are
If you choose to spend time with your family maybe it’s time to acknowledge that no matter how much you wish they will change, can they? will they? Do they want to change?
It may be time to consider accepting them as they are. worrying about what will happen with them only adds to your stress levels and will result in more and more disappointments. By the way accepting them as they are does not mean accepting their poor behaviour. It just means seeing them for who they are not having any expectations of them.
Accept that it sucks and try not to fight battles you may not win.
7. Know your own truth and values and keep them in your heart
Very often it is thus might sneaky and hurtful comments that can send you into a head spin. It could be a racist comment, different political views, different levels of morality. do you really need to have a heated debate to try and convince them of your view?
If you feel that you can’t be happy until your family understands you, then their beliefs and values will control your life. If there are things you totally believe in, just remember that you are entitled to your opinion and so are they. Even if you don’t agree with them. Validate your own feelings and opinions and try to accept the fact that yours are different. In other words, be glad that your views are different.
8. Have emotional support available
Find someone to debrief with on a daily basis with. Ask a supportive friend for support and decide between you and them what support you will need. Maybe you just need a response to a quick text message
You might find I useful to have a quick five-minute chat just to let of steam every now and then.
You may also find it beneficial to have a long chat with a couple of times a week. You may need to tell them how things are going and/or have someone to console you.
9. Don’t forget self-care
“Have respect for yourself, and patience and compassion. With these, you can handle anything.” ~Jack Kornfield
Selfcare is important anyway under any circumstances but if you anticipate difficulty ahead, you would need to upgrade your self-care so you will not be depleted when it is finished. So, don’t forget self-care before, during and after. Here are some ideas:
Make sure you are not tired and have had enough sleep. Feeling tired would leave you with less energy to cope.
Try something relaxing on a daily basis such as meditation or yoga
Don’t forget exercise as it releases your feel-good hormones.
Practice deep breathing whilst you are there to help you remain calm
Essential oils such as Lavender, bergamot and ylang ylang amongst others are great for relaxing. Add a few drops to a tissue and inhale the aroma for quick, calming relief. Mix with water in a spray bottle for a calming spritz (try spraying a scarf and carrying it with you throughout the day)
10. Creative visualisation
Creative visualisation is basically creating in your mind first what you would like to happen. You could use creative visualisation in several ways here:
Picture in your mind how you would realistically, considering all the dynamics of your family. Picture how you would ideally respond to any potential difficulties.
Visualise yourself being protected from any difficulties and challenges. For example, you could picture in your mind an invisible wall between you and your family. Any toxicity or negativity would bounce of this wall. This protection could be a shield, an imaginary protective person. Whatever you’re comfortable with
It is important to start practicing this regularly even before something happens.
Is lockdown bringing up more issues on how difficult your family is? Has issues from your childhood starting to surface as you are spending more time with them? Did you know that Therapy can be done online through video calling?
Don’t forget you can: Schedule a free 15-minute consultation
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