Not everyone has a Mother’s Day that can be summarized by a greeting card, and when these Hallmark holidays are hurtful, it can feel lonely and even deliberately antagonistic. If you have a distaste of Mother’s Day, there may be other things you’re grappling with.
You’re tired of Mother’s Day because…
There are so many reasons why Mother’s Day may be difficult. Let’s talk about a few of them.
You want to be a mom but aren’t
Infertility impacts nearly 10% of women in the United States – a staggering 6.5 million women who are feeling it acutely as the world seems to often revolve around and glorify the role you are aching to gain.
When you want to be a mother more than anything, the painful reminders everywhere that occur for Mother’s Day may feel like cruel taunting.
Toxic or nonexistent relationships make it difficult
Do you have a bad relationship with your mother figure, or no relationship at all? We get it. There’s no easy way to navigate a painful relationship on a holiday that’s centered around celebrating it.
Regardless of the reason your relationship is currently fractured or strained, you’re going to feel it acutely as the pressure mounts to pretend your reality is something else. This may lead to feelings of anger, bitterness, guilt, dread, or loss, instead of the joy that others expect.
Grief clouds out the good
Perhaps you’ve lost your mother figure or the maternal force in your life. The more recent the lost the more acute the sense of grief, though even after a long passage of time, a day where everyone else gathers to celebrate what you lost can still cause pain.
If you’ve lost your own child, grief will also undoubtedly consume the celebration of your motherhood status. Losing a child is the upending of the parent-child relationship and is one of the most painful losses a person can endure.
After loss, it’s difficult to confront these painful reminders of who is missing. Grieving and good can go hand in hand, and accepting these polarities is an important part of the DBT process. Truthfully though, even when you’re feeling ready to find the good, Mother’s Day might just always suck – and that’s okay.
You don’t know where you fit
Family structures run the gamut of every formulation and compilation imaginable, yet the traditional nuclear family remains at the center of visibility in society.
How do you buy a card for your bonus mom, or the maternal figure that took you in when you felt abandoned? Do you give flowers to the foster mother that housed you briefly but stayed in touch? Where do you take your nine grandmothers out for brunch?
It’s not always a negative feeling when you’re part of an alternative or chosen family, but it can certainly be a confusing (and uncomfortable) one on holidays like this.
3 DBT techniques to care for yourself with compassion
When everyone around you is gearing up for a day of celebration that rings untrue for you, where do you fit? For the girls, women, and femme folks who share our supportive spaces at THIRA, DBT can be a particularly helpful therapy model in finding some solace on days like this.
Prepare coping strategies ahead of time
Coping mechanisms are a huge part of successfully navigating difficult situations. When you’re anticipating them, you can use this DBT strategy to prepare for how you might feel.
Close your eyes and imagine the situations you might find yourself in. Imagine your reactions and the way they make you feel. Next, think about not how they make you feel but how you want them to make you feel – take control of your reaction and make it yours. Keeping your boundaries firm and yourself safe are the goals here.
With that in mind, consider what you might need in order to make those things a reality. Prepare yourself by creating the coping tools you’ll need and having them at the ready to navigate the situations with self-compassion.
Practice radical acceptance
One of the principal tools that sets DBT apart from other therapeutic treatments is called radical acceptance. It’s also a technique that may make this particular Sunday feel a bit more bearable this year.
The goal is to find acceptance for the existence of all facets of your emotional experience. Radical acceptance in DBT asks you to observe your emotional landscape as well as the situational one, and to accept both observations as they are.
In radical acceptance, there is no pressure to feel one thing and not another. This simple-sounding technique can be life altering, but it can also be confusing and frustrating to make sense of when so much of our lives seems to be black and while. Radical acceptance encourages you to see the gray in the world.
Try distraction (a 2-in-1)
Distraction is a distress tolerance tool used in DBT to keep your thoughts authentic for the experience you’re having. It may sound like it’s avoidance, but using distraction to make your emotions feel bearable is a positive way to benefit from distraction.
You can distract yourself by introducing sensory experiences like taking a shower, manipulating fidget toys, listening to music, watching television, or reading a book. You can also distract yourself with active self-care like going for a walk, or taking a long bath. Distraction can serve as a reward system for navigating your experiences as well as break in thought when you become overwhelmed.
Reminders for when you’re hurting this Mother’s Day
With a few tools in your pocket, we want to leave you with a few reminders to take with you to prepare for the days ahead.
● You are not alone.
● Your feelings are valid.
● It’s okay to take the time you need.
Carry them with you in whatever way you need. We’re here for you along the way.
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