How to Get Through Thanksgiving When You Have a Background of Trauma

Posted in CATEGORY by Karen Ortner


For those of us with a trauma background, our gratitude on Thanksgiving must be tempered with a very real acknowledgement of our trauma and our pain.

Don’t get me wrong, I think gratitude is awesome. BUT when you have a history of emotional, physical and sexual abuse or trauma, a major holiday that centers around family, like Thanksgiving… can be massively difficult.

Just like any holiday or significant date such as a birthday or anniversary, Thanksgiving can bring up all kinds of trauma responses for us. Going back home to spend time with relatives; perhaps going back to the location where your trauma took place, or being with the people who caused your trauma in the first place, can illicit a trauma response no matter how much healing work you’ve done.

Everywhere we turn there are so many expectations, rules, traditions and rituals about how we ‘should’ feel and how the day ‘should’ go. Even if members of our family have been abusive to us (now or in the past), we may still hold on to the notion that we ‘should’ get along with our relatives. We may feel obliged to have civil conversations over dinner, even though on the inside we feel like running away or screaming.

Which is why I recorded the above video to hopefully help you to get through the holiday season if you struggle with being around your family. 

But before you watched (if you haven’t yet) let me share two thoughts about this holiday:

#1 – Yes, be grateful.  Be grateful for all the good things in your life.  For your health if you have it, and your friends if you have them, and your children if you have them, or whatever else you CHOOSE to be grateful for.

But you do NOT need to be grateful for any people in your life that have hurt you in the past, or who continue to hurt you now.  Just because somebody is family, or just because they played an important role in your life, does not mean that you have to be grateful for them in any way.

#2 – Acknowledge the truth of how you’re feeling.  Thanksgiving is the holiday of stuffing turkeys, not stuffing emotions.  Don’t stuff everything down just to get through.  This may have been a survival pattern until now, but it’s time to be really honest with yourself. Acknowledge it if you’re feeling angry, or hurt, or sad, or abandoned, or lonely, or scared, or whatever else you’re feeling.  Acknowledge it, sit with it, tap on it, and do your best to release it so that it no longer has power over you.

Louise Hay used to say that ‘if you want to clean a house you have to see the dirt’. The same can be said about Thanksgiving.  See the dirt of how you’re feeling so that you can tap on it, release it, and finally free yourself from the invisible bonds of trauma that bind you to those who hurt you.

The reality is that maybe you can’t avoid seeing those relatives, but you can work to release the triggers you feel around seeing them and reduce the impact they have on your life today.

OK, ready to tap with me?  Press play above to start Tapping now. 🙂

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About Me



I'm Karen Ortner, an EFT Tapping expert, personal development coach, and childhood abuse survivor and I'm passionate about helping YOU in your healing journey!

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