The season of gathering together in the name of family, traditions, and festivities has arrived. For many, it should be called the season of being triggered and traumatized. As much as joyous occasions abound during this time of the year, the opportunity for being together with the ones you love and are related to isn’t a possibility for all. If you scroll through any social media site you will see posts and links to articles explaining how to survive going home for holiday events, how to build your own family when your biologicals have rejected you, and clever escape plans to use when you need to take a break from the intrusive investigative probing into your personal life. Because I’ve had my own experiences with my rambunctious family during the holiday season, I have what I believe to be useful insights on how to deal with matters of family and gatherings that will keep your sanity intact.
Tangled In Toxicity
As soon as they enter the room, your nervous system begins to respond, immediately you are on edge praying that this is the year you can be in their presence without the usual drama. Maybe this time they will be considered of other people’s feelings and keep their harsh opinions to themselves. People are creatures of habit and unless they decide to change, you will get from them what they always give, negativity. Most of us deal with these family members merely because they are family, allow me to let you off the hook, cut them loose. You can be in a space with a person and have zero interactions with them, after the customary greeting, keep your distance. When you’re dealing with what I like to call “a seasonal family member,” those folks that you only see on holidays and at funerals, you aren’t obligated to be the recipient of their foolishness. People like this are often unhappy and aren’t satisfied until they have spread their toxins around,they are the aunts who like to remind you of what you did when you were 15, the uncles who compare you to others under the guise of encouraging you, the cousins who like to take shots at you for being different, and in my case the sibling who’s ability to aggravate is astonishing. You’ve got to have enough self-love to save yourself from the malarkey, this is where you establish boundaries
The Benefits of Boundaries
It is easy to point fingers and blame your family for turning your holidays into hell but the only thing you get from doing so is continued victimization. When you realize that you have the power to control how people impact you, a shift in your relationships will begin to emerge. You’ve got to decide what aspects of your life are off-limits. You don’t have to walk into grandma’s house and make some loud and confrontational declaration about what you won’t tolerate. Your boundaries aren’t necessarily about them, they are your safeguards, there to serve your well-being. These are your private decisions that you will make based on experience and a desire to have healthy interactions with others, specifically your family. Deciding what lines you don’t want to be crossed is something you have to determine before you arrive for dinner, you can’t suit up for battle during the fight. If you have concluded that conversations about your love life aren’t open for discussing when someone tries to engage you on the topic, change the subject. If they don’t get your subtle cue simply tell them that who you are dating is not a conversational exchange that you’ll engage in. Letting the family know where you have drawn the line doesn’t have to lead to an argument, when you stick to your boundaries they will either respect you and bring up a different topic or they will leave you alone, either way, it’s a win-win for you.
Where Is The Love
Holidays are times that should be spent making memories with people that bring light into your life. Yes, we all have difficult people in our lives but difficult and toxic are wildly different. Your rule of thumb should be to spend special moments with special people and sometimes those people are not apart of your bloodline. In an ideal world, we’d be able to look around a holiday gathering and see ourselves reflected back in the faces and features of others, but does life ever follow the ideal path, nope. So, when being with your family is much too much for you, the option of creating your own celebration with people that you love being with is a beautiful alternative. If you have a group of friends that have become your tribe of unconditional love and support, you’re halfway there. I am in love with the concept of Friends-giving.
You’ve got to go where the love flows and if that means being apart from your family, so be it. Bonds that bind you into emptiness and leave you wounded have to be broken. Personally, I am healing the part of me that wants to keep running to a dry well looking for water(a whole lotta baby-sister stuff). We, including myself, have bought into the notion that family means enduring harm and unhappiness simply because we are related, that’s the biggest lie out there. True family is a collection of people, related or not, who have chosen to love unconditionally. They aren’t perfect and they may even hurt your feelings but the apologies are genuine and followed by changed behavior. With them, your boundaries are respected and your authenticity is embraced. These people embodied the quote by Maya Angelou, “love liberates; it doesn’t bind.” Now that you know how to deal with toxic folks, establish boundaries, and go where the love goes; I wish you a holiday season full of laughter and moments that soothe your soul while igniting your spirit. Whether these moments happen with your family or with your tribe, enjoy it!