Hello, readers. It’s that time of year – holiday songs, decorations, presents, shopping, baking, and so on. But for some people, the holidays bring a lot more discomfort than joy. Family time is filled with chaos, hurt feelings, humiliation, torment, and sadness. Not at all the kind of thing you want to volunteer for on a regular basis.
I’ve noticed a few comment “conversations” that have gone back and forth among some of the readers here, especially on some of the depression posts and the bullying posts. It’s unfortunate, but those are popular right now on this blog. Many people are hurting at a time when society tells us we should all put on a smiley face and love everything.
But here’s the truth – unchecked bullying and abuse can persist into adulthood. And when families gather, the simultaneous favoritism and ignorance shows under the spotlight. People who have always been the target often feel shunned or blamed. They see the same things going on now that went on during their childhood. Their sibling/parent/step-parent abuses or bullies them and nobody does a thing about it. The bully/abuser gets off the hook with every excuse and explanation, and the target is a whiner that can’t ever do enough right. Each person’s story is a little different, but one theme is clear. It’s the same-old same-old, and it still hurts.
Some people have had enough and decide to change their holiday plans. They’ll still see their mom, but only in private and without the relative that causes the bad cycle to persist. They’ll make a person visit to one or two people that truly support them, but they’ll avoid the big family gathering that makes them want to hide. They’ll accept their situation for what it is and realize they have the power to make their holidays different. Nobody in their family feels a need or even gets what the problem is. So be it. Healthy sometimes means limited and well-chosen family contact.
If you are facing a decision like this or are wondering how you can make it through another holiday with so-and-so being there, you aren’t alone. Not by a long-shot. If family time seems more harmful than joyful, just remember that you have the power to make change. Even if your family isn’t willing to do it, you can have a peaceful holiday by making different choices. Maybe not this year. Maybe not even next year. Or maybe, you’ll decide yet this weekend that it has to be different. Whatever you do, it’s OK. It’s your journey and you can take a different turn when you see the need to. Just because the road stays the same doesn’t mean you have to keep driving on it.
I’m so proud of those who are making these tough decisions right now and those who have already done so. It’s hard, but it can bring peace. If you’re still on the fence about this issue, I encourage you not to give up on achieving this peace. It’s worth a lot.
Take care, everyone.
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Last reviewed: 23 Dec 2011