ADHD Adulting Autism Mental Health Podcasts

Neurodivergent Overwhelm During the Holidays with Jackie Coursey

jacqueline coursey certified neurodiversity coach

I’m here with friend and fellow certified neurodiversity coach, Jackie Coursey, to talk about how to handle the holiday season as a neurodivergent woman. We’re talking about layers of oppression and how they show up as burdens during the holidays, as well as offering some suggestions on how to feel better, more connected, and more grounded during this difficult time.

Want to listen? This post is based off of Episode 55 of the Neurodiverging Podcast! Listen on Apple Podcasts Google Podcasts | Spotify | Youtube

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Transcript of Neurodivergent Overwhelm During the Holidays with Jackie Coursey

Danielle Sullivan: Welcome to the Neurodiverging podcast, Jackie. I’m so glad you’re here. Friends, Jackie Coursey is the owner of Sacred Space Coaching, and she is an ADHD-er and a certified neurodiversity family coach, a group coach, and also an Asperger Autism Network certified Aspercoach. Jackie has been a friend of the podcast for, like, almost since its birth, really. And I’ve been so appreciative of her support through this whole process.

And now she’s here, and we’re going to have a conversation today about the ways that being a neurodivergent person, as a woman, or as somebody who’s from a traditionally underprivileged space or a group, the ways that those things intersect that you may not have thought of. And, the ways that presenting as a woman in society and also being autistic or ADHD or having some other sort of neurodivergent traits, they can intersect in all sorts of interesting ways.

I often find that clients don’t quite come in with a handle on it and just noticing those things can be really valuable. So that’s our conversation today. Jackie, before we kind of dive in, would you like to say anything about your background and what you do and Sacred Space Coaching?

Jacqueline Coursey: Absolutely. I coach autistic adults and lately it’s been, my practice is growing to be mostly professionals who are trying to get the workplace stuff right, you know, to not be stressed. Part of it can come down to the months we’re leading into, all that you’re responsible for the year end on a job. And then all that you as a female are responsible [for] at home with the holidays coming. But I love coaching adults and I’m happy to be here with you today. And I am an ADHDer; I can identify with so much of this topic.

Danielle Sullivan: Yeah, thank you so much. Yeah, Jackie and I were talking about this in context of the the the Christian holidays are coming up. And whether you are a Christian or not, especially if you’re in Western Europe or the Americas, that culture sort of takes over towards the late fall. And even if you’re not yourself practicing, there’s you know, work stuff like work parties, holiday things come up with kids end of December, like concerts and parties at school come up.

And there’s just, and then if you are practicing, there’s, you know, gift giving and seeing relatives you don’t see and all these burdens that kind of come up at the end of the year. And a lot of them are extra burdens for autistic ADHDers and also are, a lot of those burdens become an extra burden, right?

We call this intersections, right? When you’re part of two minority groups or two groups that traditionally don’t have a lot of power. And so in this case, this might be if you’re autistic and a woman, or if you’re ADHD and you’re not a binary, but you’re socially constructed as a woman, right? It’s important, I think, to talk about the specific burdens that are being taken by people like us. And how, if you’re neurodivergent, thinking about that and really understanding that kind of intersection can help you draw better boundaries and communicate better with your friends and your family and your partners and your work people and everybody.

Jacqueline Coursey: And it’s big, a big deal to talk about this right now because you have to give yourself some messaging, because society is bombarding you with a certain kind of messaging and just before we started taping you and I were talking about the expectations we see in commercials or family members for Thanksgiving holidays of, you know, the guys sitting on the couch watching the game or around the barbecues, smoking cigars or something. And we’re going to be in the kitchen with our aprons on cooking, and making that special pie and photographing it.

Society’s giving us these messages from when we’re very little. And we’ll feel a lot of anxiety around that about having it look nice and be perfect. And even in households that are more equally divided in their, the jobs are going to do, you know, the projects, still the studies have shown that women feel more responsibility and anxiety around it, that I could be talking to my partner about how things look and we could agree that are, you know, several rooms need to be picked up. And we agree on what that would look like, but I’m going to have a lot more anxiety around it. And the typical woman is going to have more anxiety around that than her partner will.

Danielle Sullivan: Yeah. And I think, I mean, I think we both have so much to say. Also, I just want to. welcome Leo to the podcast. So if you hear him chirping here, that’s, that’s my kitty.

I think also, just now you’re talking about the commercials and this idea of the women in the kitchen and the men in front of the TV. And I know a lot of people think that’s highly stereotypical, but I’m in my late 30s. I’m from an Italian American family and was socialized as a girl, as a woman growing up. And when I grew up, we would all gather like the big Italian American family would gather for the holidays for Thanksgiving for Christmas, for birthdays, for Easter, for those kinds of things. Most of my family was Catholic, Italian Catholic.

And it really was all of the aunts and my grandmother and us girls in the kitchen after the meal cleaning and putting things away and like organizing and running the dishwasher and all of that. And all of the men, all the uncles, the grandfather, everybody in front of the TV, either watching TV or taking a nap. Taking a nap was part of our family culture was after the meal. And it was even the boy cousins. And my cousins now, I would say are for the most part very equitably minded young men. They’re not the kind of people that I think are putting a lot of pressure on their wives. So like they are to my knowledge, all heterosexual, they’re all partnered to women. But you know, I don’t think of them as the kinds of people who are going to be putting a lot of pressure on their wives purposely to like keep things clean and keep things cooked.

But we’re all socializing the same, and literally in the same house in the same way, where they saw, you know, the people who are socialized as women and girls doing this labor, where they as the socialized men and boys got out of that labor, right? And so even if you think like, oh, the commercials are stereotypical, right, or you look at the TV and you’re like, oh, but we don’t do it that way. A lot of us have this upbringing where we are trained to perform in a certain way. And even if we opt out of that training, there can still be this internalized anxiety around it.

Jacqueline Coursey: Yeah. Absolutely. And whatever it is we’re doing in our own homes, if we are in [heterosexual] marriages, we are four times as likely to be doing all the work. I mean, just the statistics are there, that that’s just what happens. And our counterparts are not as involved in it. Yeah. So, and I, we could have been in houses next door to each other, Catholic, you know, in Michigan, a Detroit area with all the ants. And I remember I was teaching my kids, my girls to be part of that fold, but before I started thinking about it, of learning how to bake in the kitchen while the rest of the women were around and feeling that energy and then all guys napping or watching TV. and chatting it up while we were in there doing and then we’d be right back in there, cleaning up afterwards and doing the purchases, doing the cleaning to get ready, all of that.

Danielle Sullivan: Yeah, and I, one thing I’ll just say sort of earlier in the podcast as Leo makes himself comfortable is that Jackie and I were talking about this before, again, before we hit record about sort of, what kind of depending on your interest and your attention to sort of the developing rhetoric around gender and sexuality nowadays, there’s lots of different approaches to how we think about gender and sexuality and how we identify as people.

But something that I think it’s important to just make clear is that when we say women, whether you identify as a woman or not, that’s like your, you know, that’s on you. I’m a non-binary person, right? So I’ll use me as an example. I identify as a non-binary person. I don’t identify as a woman or a man.

But I am perceived as a woman, right? That’s just societally, regardless of what I do and how often I come out and I say I’m a non-binary person, when people see me in the grocery store, when people see me with my children especially, when people see me on this YouTube, I’ve had a couple of interviews where or even conversations with people who I feel like know me very well and still sort of misgender me and I’ll say, you know, oh, actually I’m not. And it’s fine. I’m not like offended by it because I know I’m perceived as a woman, right? I have long hair. I have some traditional sort of quote unquote feminine aspects.

So the reason I bring that up is because it’s important to understand the difference between how you identify and what you think of gender and sexuality, which may be totally one thing. But to still understand that there is a society that is going to construct you based on its own norms and that you’re going to be perceived in a certain way. And so you might be buying into some of those norms kind of subconsciously without thinking of it.

So I’m not a woman, but I have a lot of anxiety around how my house looks. I think about when my kids are behaving a certain way that I’m going to be perceived as the mom and somebody who should be able to like, keep my kids behavior under control in a way that their dad is not judged, right? I’m judged for how they behave, their dad is not as much judged. I’m judged for how the house looks, their dad is not as much judged, right?

Whenever there’s, Jackie, you mentioned like cleaning for holidays and getting presents and stuff. I’m the present giver in my family and their dad and I have explicitly discussed that and like, you know, it’s an equitable solution to our particular approach, but it’s still a very gendered role, right? And so if a present doesn’t go right or if I miss something, it’s like my fault, as opposed to a gap in our communication or something. So there’s a lot of ways that gendered expectations affect individual people regardless of how those individual people identify and I just sort of wanted to bring that up early so that when as we’re referring shorthand to like women, you know that you can be thinking about women as a socially constructed role as opposed to individual people who may or may not identify as such. So I hope that makes sense. I welcome questions, you can email me. You know, there’s lots of good resources about this kind of stuff.

Jacqueline Coursey: And I love that you brought that up just because it can help us all pause and think about what do I want that really to look like in my life, not what, you know, what I’ve been taught, I should be doing. How do I take my life back? But how do I take especially thinking about that as we get extra extras… I always call them extra extras right now with all these extra responsibilities and come with the next couple of months. How do I take that back and have it be what I want it to be? And I’m always big on statistics. I was just reading up only 25% of women say they can relax during the holidays at any point on any one day. 75% feel like they cannot. Let’s take that back.

Jacqueline Coursey: Let’s change what that looks like for us, not only for us, but our young are watching us and learning from us on how to do this. And if we don’t want that to be their life when they leave the nest, then we’ve got to show them a different way.

Danielle Sullivan: Yeah, I think that’s such an important piece too. I’m constantly talking to clients who are struggling to make changes for themselves. But when I point out that if they can make this change, then they’re demonstrating it to their kiddos and they’re demonstrating a positive or more mentally healthy approach to whatever the problem is to their kiddos, that sometimes just flips the switch right away because we want to be showing our children. We want our children to have the best lives they can and to be as well as they can. But to do that, we have to actually demonstrate that for ourselves and that’s hard, like especially again as women socialized to give up our own time and our own energy for other people. It’s hard to take that time and energy back for ourselves even when we’re doing it for a really good reason.

Jacqueline Coursey: So what helps me is knowing that families and relationships are healthier and happier when responsibilities are shared. That the families that are functioning in that way, everyone is more content and feels like they’re getting what they need out of those relationships. So I love that. And I love that again for my daughters and sons that are watching me.

And I thought of something else when you’re talking about when you’re at the store with your kiddos and people are watching how you’re gonna handle misbehaviors or moments, right? And I’m thinking like I felt that judgment, my family’s neurodiverse. And so there can be extra moments of hyperactivity or I remember being in the store when my son was in Target on the bottom of the cart and swimming down the aisle. And then he goes, cartwheeling down the aisle with the store owners looking like, oh my God, you know, woman, do something about this. I’m thinking he’s really accurate. But I mean, they’re looking at me differently than they were looking at my partner about, you know, take this on and, you know, handle it. So there’s just, there’s a lot there that we have to untangle for us and for the next generation.

Danielle Sullivan: Yeah. Yeah. For my family, we definitely have a little bit of extra activity and energy, but we have a lot of vocal stims in my family, like all of us really, but especially the kids and also me. And I, because I wasn’t identified until late, I had learned to mostly suppress stims in public areas, though I do it a lot at home. But my kiddos, I’m so pleased to say, don’t suppress vocal stims out of the house in almost every case, but that does mean that people look at us.

It’s like, my kid can be totally happy. There’s no agitation, threat of violence, concern. They’re still very little. They’re pre-pubescent, so they don’t appear like… when my boy’s a little older I will worry about people thinking he’s going to be violent or something, but at this age we’re pretty safe and we’re protected because we’re white people. So there’s that too.

People look at me and they’re like, you know, why is your kiddo trilling or whatever? And it’s not that loud and it’s not aggressive and it’s not in anyone’s way. So I’m like, why are you judging us for this? But they’re going to judge me in a way that they don’t judge the kiddo’s father because I don’t think fathers are assumed to be in control of their children’s behavior in the ways that many people perceived as mothers are going to be. And their dad is very in tune. Like, they have a really good dad. So, you know, the stereotype hurts him as well, right? It’s not just that it’s hurting women, it’s hurting everybody, because he’s expected to not be in good connection and good relationship with his kids the way that I am, right? But that means when I fail to be in perfect connection with my kids, I’m judged way more harshly than he is when he fails to be in perfect connection with his kids. And that’s just, you know, that’s…

Jacqueline Coursey: It’s unfair. And you hit on something else when you were saying, and we’re white. Because I don’t know if you and I’ve talked about this, but my four kids are adopted. And one of them born in your state of Colorado. And, but we’ve had to have those conversations too. When my youngest is out as a now six foot four looks-to-be-a-man and is swimming, and I have to say, I’m worried about you. Like someone, you know, could hurt you or arrest you or whatever, because you’re moving in a certain way, having the best time of your life, but society put some judgments and we don’t know, you know, we’ve had to have those talks about safety. But I mean, just, they’re an extra danger and extra worry for sure.

Danielle Sullivan: Yeah. And I mean, that’s why I think talking about the layers of oppression are so important and that, you know, being socialized or understood to be a woman is kind of one aspect right. Being somebody who’s not white is another aspect. Being, you know, an immigrant from somewhere is another aspect. Being trans or in the LGBTQ umbrella is another aspect right?

And so we’re protected in some ways and we’re open to additional harm in other ways. It’s important to acknowledge that that there are sort of differences in everybody’s experience based on those layers of what’s going on right. So I’m a queer person, I’m non-binary, but I’m also white, I make enough money, and I have a lot of education.

So, you know, that’s not to say that those privileges solve everything for me but the same way the privileges support me a lot, some of those other things open me up to harm, being neurodivergent opens me up to harm, right?

I would love to talk a little bit more about more specifically the intersections you’ve experienced as an ADHDer who’s a woman. Where do you find, especially, I guess we’re focused on the kind of upcoming holiday period, have you noticed any specific places where being ADHD on top of kind of womanhood or vice versa, um, has exacerbated concerns you have about the holidays or those pressures?

Jacqueline Coursey: I come into it super anxious and worried about looking like I’m doing a good job and I feel that especially as a woman of kids that don’t look like me. So it’s like that mom role of looking for the, for the black community, for the white community, like we’ve got this healthy family. So, um, you know, trying to show we have. We have a lot of joy, but trying to show our best aspects. So I just feel a lot of anxiety around it. And then the holidays of getting it right with my executive function all over the place. Yeah. There have been years, there was years, I don’t know, maybe 10 years ago, where I actually had purchased presents on sale early, put them in a cabinet and totally forgot when it was time to come back out.

Danielle Sullivan: I feel like that’s almost stereotypical, but it’s how often it all happens to us. Like I’ve done, my mother has done that, I’ve done that, like it’s almost stereotypical neurodivergent woman thing to do, yeah.

Jacqueline Coursey: Yeah, I’m a stereotypical person in that area, but it’s like the executive function really gets in my way during this time. What I do is I just become grumpy and anxious. And what I’ll do personally is I will actually have people over because it stimulates my brain to clean up and get everything all my ducks in a row on purpose. My partner will say, why are we doing this? Why are you having some couples over when it stresses you out? It’s like, well, because I know I have this list of things that I feel like I have to do, and now I have a deadline. By six o’clock on Friday, everything’s got to be done.

Yeah, but I just feel I enjoy the holidays, but I feel very nervous because there’s so many extra items on the list and I want everyone around me to be content. And so stressful. It’s just thinking about it right now, it’s stressful. And I tried to put it off and then go into Walmart or Target and the decorations are already up. And it did your brain thinking about it. And if I ruled the world, we’d like to have all these holidays once every three years. Honestly, I just put it away.

Danielle Sullivan: Oh, gosh, the time, the way that at least my brain experiences time, I really hear that, didn’t I just put it away?

I went through this phase a couple of years ago where I was like, Oh, it would be nice to decorate the house quarterly, so for each season. I’m learning this about myself. I used to think I just didn’t like clutter and I didn’t like stuff. And it’s because I was overwhelmed by it.

But now I’m kind of leaning into the maximalist kind of thing where I like clutter and I like stuff. I just need it to be, I need to know where it is, I need to have stuff in front of my eyeballs, that kind of thing. And so I was like, Oh, we’ll decorate the house quarterly. And then I very quickly realized that like, even though quarterly sounds like every every three months, that’s plenty of time. Putting stuff away every three months was just not possible.

And so like, when I was looking for our Halloween decorations this year to help it like so the kids can put them out. Some of them were still out. They had just been sort of pushed back into corners because I had just never like been able to set up the systems I needed to to get things put away or to get things taken back out. And that’s, I kind of just decided this is not a priority for me and that’s fine. So that’s okay. And I gave up on the quarterly thing.

But it’s, for me, it’s really interesting because when you were talking, it seems like a lot of your anxieties around other folks perceptions of you. And I am definitely concerned. about other people’s perceptions of me, but I’m also not great, frankly, at noticing other people’s perceptions right away. Like it takes some pointing out. So when I think of the holidays, I do think somewhat of all this that I just talked about about being judged for as a housekeeper quote unquote, which I’m not like a housekeeper, but I’m seen as the housekeeper of our house, right? And as a mother and as all these things.

But what comes up for me is like all the, like the executive function, like you were saying all the organization, like figuring out what do the kids want, what’s on their list, who’s getting it for them? When are we celebrating what? Do I have to clean things?

My kiddos are anxious and one of them has high, high, high anxiety. And so sometimes we can’t, how do I say? I need to co-regulate with them 24-7. I need to be very interactive and very careful. in regulating their energy while they’re learning to do it for themselves because they’re still very young.

I’m the stay-at-home parent so that’s my job. Their dad does it when he’s here but he’s not the stay-at-home parent and so it’s a traditional female role that ends up falling to me and then when I get it wrong, like when I think that they have the energy and I push them to do something and then it like is disaster, it can take the whole household a week to recover easy.

I always feel like it’s my fault because I misjudged where my kiddo was emotionally. I know consciously that I’m doing my best and this is a challenging situation and all these things, but I think it’s that’s a piece of being socialized as a woman and also being neurodivergent for me. It’s not a perception of other people, but my own perceptions of my abilities and my own wanting to get it right as the parent and feeling this pressure, this internal pressure of the family. I didn’t connect enough or I didn’t understand that kind of emotion well enough to make a good judgment about.

And this is huge in the holidays because like you’re asked to go to all these things. Like you’re asked to go to all this school stuff and all this work stuff. And even just opening presents in the morning can be… the kids get so wired that it can take days for them to settle again and even though it’s a positive experience, it’s like emotionally challenging and executive function challenging. So I don’t know.

Jacqueline Coursey: And we feel that need to like be enjoying it and we’re not necessarily enjoying it. And I was identifying, as I’m sure some of the audience can, that everything you were thinking about for your young ones also can apply to us of all those parties. Oh my God, there’s times I just shut down and I can’t handle those parties. And I would tell people I was ill because I just couldn’t handle all of that. I’ve learned over the years to joke with people that know me that there’s an end time to my gatherings. I’m a bit of one time not having it and people were still at the house at one in the morning and I was very uncomfortable. I can handle about 90 minutes with people that I’m overwhelmed and really overwhelmed. So people know that I’ll be the first to leave and that if they’re coming, I’ll start looking at the clock.

Danielle Sullivan: I’m ready.

Jacqueline Coursey: I would be extroverted for that amount of time and that was all I could do. But for us, just as human beings to be thinking about those gatherings and what to do about them and like if you are at one and you think about it for your kids but also for you. Yeah, I do get so overstimulated – where’s a safe place? Make a plan, do certain things to help yourself get through those moments or not or bow out. That idea of like taking back these next couple of months that are coming and make it something that’s more than just bearable for you and for your kids but even like for folks without families just what can you as a human being who’s neurodivergent so it’s it’s that extra extra what do you do with that to to be safe and sound and content because it’s also it’s more darkness and it’s cozier this time of year and you know what is. is what do you want that to look like?

Danielle Sullivan: Yeah, there’s this, I think, the sort of commercial push aspect to the marketing right around. Like you said, being cozy, being connected with your family, being like feeling really good. Like that really like positive, like purposeful time to compare to the actuality sometimes that this feeling like you’re on the answer, we’ll just going, going, going, going. And I certainly find that I’ve just found that over the years that really having a really strong plan has helped me so much.

We have opted out of lots of things. Like, you know, we’re Unitarian Universalist, we don’t really attend anymore. We don’t do a lot of family things. My kids are no longer in conventional schooling, right? And so we’ve opted out, but we’ve also added things in to make our lives kind of more connected and slower, right? To really find that slower pace and feel more like, we’ve got this, we’re happy, we’re good. Thanks to the issue of the growth growth it’s looking how I want it to look. And so I really think that idea of making a plan ahead of time is just so so so valuable and really important.

Jacqueline Coursey: And you said that what I thought about right away because we talked about slowing it down and you know the coziness and stuff is just grounding ourselves. This is a really nice time of year again that for some reason the darkness makes me do that more.

Danielle Sullivan: But just like the ground. The garden’s to bed. We’re good.

Jacqueline Coursey: Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. I’m just taking it slower and grounding ourselves and being unafraid of you know deciding what’s not possible or enjoyable and taking it off of our plates.

Danielle Sullivan: Yeah. Yeah.

Jacqueline Coursey: Which can be really hard to do.

Danielle Sullivan: That is so important. And you know I can speak for myself. A lot of my life. I know I talk about my coz a lot. A lot of my life does. of all around them because they’re co-regulator 100% of the time. And to be able to have the energy to co-regulate with two dysregulated kids, day in and day out, means that I need to be really careful about what I let in and where my energy is coming from.

And I feel like that’s one of the stressors of the upcoming season is just people are throwing their energy all over you all the time, right? And you can kind of choose, are you going to reflect it back and just sort of like give it back to them or are you going to absorb it or are you going to take it and do something else with it? But it’s a lot to process. It’s a lot more extra to work through your brain and through your body and to decide what to do with and having some plans in place to almost automate that process a little bit more can be has just helped us so much. Like it’s just been, it’s just been so valuable. The last couple of holiday seasons have been, each one has been significantly better than the last.

Jacqueline Coursey: I like hearing that.

Danielle Sullivan: I really like the holiday season. So I’m like pro a little bit of the busy, but yeah. I also thought I like your story about, you have, you know, a set amount of extra time because I have been known to go to sleep during a party I am hosting. Like I have been known to, if people are still here in 11 to be like, okay, I’m going to bed. Have a good night. Get me if you need me.

I know. And because I just, I mean, that’s the level of opt out. And some people I get when there’s certain situations where that wouldn’t be comfortable. But having the kind of friends and the kind of space and setting the kind of boundaries where you feel very comfortable and safe being like, I’m going to bed. You know, I’ll see you guys sometime later. And having set that up for myself ahead of time so that people know not to be surprised or worried or concerned or whatever is one example I can think of of how it makes that gathering so much easier. Because I can, I can go to sleep if I need to go to sleep. And no one’s going to look twice as. So, I’m going to go to sleep if I need to go to sleep. it, right? But it’s hard to set that up if you’re not, if you’re just not there yet.

Jacqueline Coursey: Yeah. Yeah, I think it helps. My family is, we talk a lot about those shoulds, you know, those shoulds that’ll just get you and what they do is they take away your life from you. And like I always said, I’m not counting on like this heaven after life.

This is like my heaven and my hell right now. This is the life you got depends on the second, you know, this is beautiful right now.

And not what’s gonna happen in a few minutes, you know, but so like, we get to decide and we can decide that we’re gonna allow ourselves that permission to do that. And a lot of people are going to try to take that away from us based on our culture or our gender, anything. But like I am 59. So it’s slipping away. I realize I’m in my, you know, whatever fourth chapter and that I want to be more aware of where I put my time. And it is in my children and now grandchildren. And it is less on the shoulds of society and what they want from us.

Danielle Sullivan: Yeah, the shoulds are sneaky. We talk about that all my family and with coaching clients, it comes up all the time because a lot of problems go back to you feeling like you should do something a certain way, right? A host should stay awake until people leave. Look at that, it’s a beautiful, you know, soft, solid. And I was just like, no, I’m not doing that shit. But some of them are really insidious, right? And you were talking about earlier in the conversation that kind of performance anxiety of the, the how should look like this, the kids should behave like this. We, as parents, should kind of control our families or, you know, in a certain way. I’m. And so those should seek into our, that they cause anxiety, they cause this feeling like we’re not doing what we’re supposed to be doing, even though we’re doing beautifully a lot of this night. You know, we’re just holding ourselves up to expectations that aren’t realistic or aren’t appropriate for us or you know, any other, there’s lots of reasons that shoulds don’t work, but.

Jacqueline Coursey: No, no, and they don’t. And social media, I think made the shoulds go on to, like it’s like gave it a shot of steroids. Yeah, it’s like extra higher heights. So look at how that family is. I had a friend that would get very depressed when she’d see all the good stories about how everyone was living their life. And I’m like, you have no idea the yelling that took place before that photograph was took or, you know, whatever it is, it’s like everyone, not everyone, but many people put that best, not even real, you know, look on those things, on those platforms, not, you have no idea the. meltdowns, the burnout, the pain going on in the background, just like every other household.

Danielle Sullivan: Yeah. It’s one moment in a series of moments, and it’s a carefully curated one. Yeah. Yeah, that’s a really good point. I do think that social media has just heightened it for everybody. Yeah.

Jacqueline Coursey: I know I was just thinking back to an old situation with the many generations over at San Diego Zoo when my kids who are now 21 were both, I don’t know, under two, and their grandfather lived to take that beautiful family photo. Finally had all the grandkids together, and my daughter hit his camera with her head and sailing down. And my ex-husband said, you know what we’re buying when they leave here, right? But it was like all the hell we were all going through about this perfect moment that he wanted to have with the kids. Yeah. Photograph. And really it was. everyone yelling at each other. I’m taking the kids off to the, what are those pink flamingos?

You know, my ex can calm his father down and like, you know, like, but I mean, like, if anyone would have seen the picture later that I’m sure he finally took, it would have looked like we were just like this beautiful, diverse family, you know, having our time together, you know, and little would anyone have known what was happening.

Danielle Sullivan: That’s such a good example. Like, I love that story because it also shows like, to me, it’s like, yes, somebody’s putting so much effort into getting this image that isn’t realistic but matches society’s expectations or goals. But then also, if I, you know, in a perfect situation, if you put exactly that much effort into the family connection and support and, you know, actually enjoying being together, the result would be very different, right? So you can have the picture of him. or you can have actual family. But the show pushes you to mean one over the other.

Jacqueline Coursey: Yeah, I think the picture means, because I remember and I loved this man who’s no longer with us, but he’d be like, SMILE. They’re afraid of him. Gigi, they call them. He is scary right now.

Danielle Sullivan: We got to do it. You’re going to pull together, pull it together. Yeah. We can do this.

Jacqueline Coursey: Oh my God. It’s like it’s not about that picture. It’s like about those real moments when you’re. You don’t know where your phone is to take a picture of it. Just relating to your, your child, your friend, your partner, yourself.

And having that moment that I try to have those in these winter months. So just. I’ll just, you know, there’s peace right now. There’s harmony. I want more of that.

Danielle Sullivan: I’m thinking about the difference between the kind of traditional Christmas happy family picture and what goes on behind getting that picture versus this sort of feeling of connection and peace site. Ideally, I think at least I’m aiming for in Christmas, which involves no cameras. And none of me thinking critically or carefully about how to organize the children so that they look exactly like this, so that, so that, so that it’s really about that like background in this, like you were talking about before. And so there’s, I love that metaphor. Like the difference.

Jacqueline Coursey: That’s really great. Such difference in what sticks with me right now is you’re talking about cameras is when you have that moment, when you’re so lucky as to have that moment, it is in here in a photograph that you take with your eyes forever. Yeah. Like you get to, I have a couple. of those, you know, the 21-year-olds came to me at Christmas time adopted 90s apart and just being in a room with them by the fireplace. I never thought I’d be able to be a mother. And all of a sudden these two babies were with us at Christmas time. And so that moment is forever. And there’s no photo of that moment, but it’s there with me forever. You know, we can have a flood and lose every photograph of the past, but that one’s in here.

Danielle Sullivan: That’s gorgeous. Thank you.

Jacqueline Coursey: We’ve had so much fun talking today. And Danielle and I are hoping that if this struck nerve with you and you would like to spend some more time with us in the near future honing in on how you want the next couple of months to look like, getting some skills and meeting with others and kind of just coming together and kind of taking back our holiday. Danielle’s going to talk a little bit about the details, but we’re going to get start getting together in a couple of weeks and talking about this in more detail.

Danielle Sullivan: Yeah, thanks Jackie. So Jackie and I are doing a six week program exactly like she said to support. lot of what’s going on on the holidays in terms of skills around sensory management, emotional regulation, and around executive function that really are called called to arms in the holiday season. If you’re interested, I’ll put some links below. It’s going to run Wednesday, it starts on November 9th, and it runs through mid-December. I’ll put the dates below. We would love it if you joined us, it’s going to be a really good group.

You get calls with me and Jackie, you get peer support from the cohort, you get tons of downloads, one sheets. It’s not meant to take oodles of energy from you. It’s meant to be something that you can do and really get something out of quickly and end up with a holiday season that feels really connected and genuine and grounded. And we really hope you’ll meet us there.

Jacqueline Coursey: We sure do.

Danielle Sullivan: Great. Thank you. So thanks so much for being here with us today, Jackie.

Jacqueline Coursey: It was lovely to talk to you as always. Thank you.


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