“People with PTSD may experience symptoms of emotional numbing. As the name implies, people with PTSD may have difficulties experiencing certain emotions, especially positive emotions. A person with PTSD may know that an event is enjoyable, but simply be unable to experience joy and happiness associated with that event.
Given this, if you notice that a family member with PTSD does not seem to be enjoying the holidays, try not to take it personally. It is very possible that the family member’s PTSD may be preventing him or her from connecting with positive emotions.”
I am now learning how to love the Holiday Season! It is still a challenge at times, but knowing why I “hated Christmas” for most of my adult life has been very healing and constructive for me and my loved ones. Each and every year at Christmas time, my wife, Judy, dreaded my annual announcement, “I hate Christmas!” The joyous season was no joy for me starting around Thanksgiving, and it was a feeling never understood until researching and writing my book. I usually did a pretty good job making others at home miserable during the Holiday Season. I even avoided contact with my kids who lived elsewhere during this time because it was so difficult to feel the joy that came so easily for others, so it seemed.
Not knowing why one has certain negative feelings that affect those close to you is not good anytime of the year. But with increased awareness of the symptoms of PTSD and the pain of moral injury, it is entirely possible to experience the joy of the Holiday Season. This will be the second year in a row that Judy nor others will hear, “I hate Christmas.” I feel more joy now than ever, and very blessed. The journey of healing is well in hand for me and others in my family. My heart is more open to the spiritual meaning of Christmas as a Christian. My only regret is not knowing and learning much earlier in life about moral injury and the symptoms of PTSD. Living and coping with the pain is terrible for the person affected, but even worse for those you love, who have to live with this negative behavior. This time of the year is special and it is when we should all have forgiveness in our hearts, lots of love to share, and a desire to make a difference for others. When you engage in making others happy, you are much happier!
I love Christmas! And the New Year looks like a winner too!
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story