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Addiction and Recovery Contribute to Toxic Family


Susan Gold


addiction and recovery


Within the entertainment industry, Susan became known for attaching celebrity talent to projects which led her into producing for television and film and a move to Los Angeles. Keen on leaving a legacy to help others heal from similar traumas she’s successfully met, Toxic Family: Transforming Childhood Trauma into Adult Freedom, her new book is part of that quest. With the same magic Susan created in her career in entertainment, she is now leading retreats, webinars, workshops and private sessions to help others drop outdated storylines and programming in exchange for living from the heart and in authentic freedom as adults.

1. What are some things that can make a family toxic? 
Mental Illness
Indirect Communication

What might it look or feel like?
Abuse of all types - physical, emotional, mental, sexual
Lack of empathy
Silent treatment and lies
Good is never good enough
Rules constantly shift
No stable platform and tools for living
Passive-aggressive behavior
No boundaries
Feeling unsafe almost constant
Explosive emotions
Terse silence
Shifting blame and projecting shame


2. Why might toxicity come out during the holidays? Can it be tough to deal with?
Holidays can be times of high stress - lack of time, money, hype, and expectations of perfection run rampant and snowball. Flashbacks to past holidays strained relationships, and dysfunctional family dynamics intensify the toxicity and trauma. Adding alcohol to the celebrations can exacerbate the toxicity and cause incendiary flames. Holidays can be multilayered and complex to navigate.

3. Please share some tips for navigating family toxicity during the holidays (tough dinner table talk, unwanted questions, etc.) For each tip, please briefly explain how to do it and why it works.
Stay grounded and in your body: become conscious of sending breath deep into your belly and really feel yourself breathing slowly and methodically.Being in your own body and aware of the actuality of the moment will give you a sense of comfort and connectedness as well as the safety of boundaries.
Use the mantra "Live and Let Live." Repeat this phrase to yourself, silently. Create constructive conversation and elevate the talk - give everyone the width and depth to have their own point of view, notice your own judgment of yourself and others. Let it all go. It's easier to give others space to be who they are and feel compassion than be right.
Breathe before you speak. It will help you be conscious of what you would like to say and will say.
"No, thank you" is a complete sentence and can be said with kindness. No need to explain yourself further

4. As a final tip, can you share a few words on why it might be okay to skip a family holiday if the toxicity is too much? What's the threshold?
Healthy boundaries are nothing to apologize for and feeling safe is a natural human right. You may disappoint family members by skipping a holiday but the separation could prove illuminating for everyone concerned. After coming away from family visits feeling suicidal, I stayed away for several years before developing enough self-awareness and esteem to engage from a position of self-love and care. This actually served to great healing


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