Dealing With Toxic Family During The Holidays
It’s that time of year…again. People are doing last-minute shopping, everyone is getting into the Christmas spirit and then there’s you who could not care less about any of this. Especially when it comes to dealing with toxic family during the Holidays.
Growing up, our mindsets were so different from what they are right now. Back then, we cared mostly about gifts and trying to stay up late, just to see if we could witness the so-called Santa Claus individual that was supposed to enter our homes.
We were always surrounded by family and as children, we’re not fully aware of how toxic family can be during the holidays.
How It All Started
I don’t know about you, but when I first started noticing the toxicity among my family, was when they started filling my head with this whole “Santa is watching you all year long. You need to behave”. First of all, have you stopped to think about how creepy that actually sounds? You’re telling me that an old man is watching over children, labeling them as if they were an object being “naughty or nice”. Now that I’m grown up and I think about the concept, it truly makes my skin crawl. Please don’t ever tell your kids such a story. That can actually create lifelong traumas.
Going back to dealing with toxic family during the holidays, why do people think that everyone is entitled to celebrate a Holiday with people they’re not comfortable with? The Holidays are always that “special time of year” where everyone pretends to think about their family and plan unsolicited gatherings.
Many of us, who had to grow up in violent homes and surrounded by toxic people, a family is everything but joyful, merry or welcoming.
For some of us, family is just a constant reminder of pain, loss, grief, violence, abuse, yelling, abandonment, guilt, and blame. You may not notice it, nor are aware of it, but there’s a really high percentage of adults that are survivors of child abuse and feel forced to attempt family gatherings just because they’re family.
Right now, there’s a scared human being debating whether or not they should attend the family gathering. Another person may be struggling whether to answer their uncle’s calls. Other people are traumatized, but regardless of that, they’re still hopeful and anxiously waiting for that phone call from that one family member…but it just never comes.
What Goes Through Our Minds
When we’re dealing with toxic family during the holidays our minds start wondering the “what if’s” and “maybe this year would be different”. It’s hard for those of us who struggle during this season.
Our thoughts go towards:
• Maybe I should go
• What could possibly be worse than everything that they’ve made me go through?
• He always said inappropriate things when I was growing up, what if he tries something worse?
• She gets drunk all the time…but I heard she’s doing better now
• Am I being selfish for not wanting to be involved with my family in any way?
• What if they found out about my sexuality? They’re extremely religious and I would probably get kicked out
• They sounded so sincere and caring when they messaged me, maybe they do care after all
• If I don’t respond back I’ll probably be the center of the whole family conversation
• Maybe they’ll say sorry after all the abuse
• I am an adult now…I can take it…no I can’t
These are just some of the thoughts that have gone through my mind a million times. I’m pretty sure a lot of people can relate. The list goes on and on. It’s been years since I last saw them and somehow I still can’t find the answers to any of these questions.
For some of you, the holidays were full of joy, laughter, family games, presents, nice dinners, catching up on what your relatives have been up to…the holidays were based on celebration. But, for some of us, the holidays were just full of arguments, double standards, competition, fights, people tearing each other down, lies, hypocrisy, blame, brokenness, regret…nightmares.
Trauma never goes away. Especially since most of it came from people that were supposed to help you and guide you in your process of growing up.
You’re an adult now, you’re still terrified of past events and people that are blood-related to you. You have been through so much already and it’s time to set the record straight – set boundaries.
Boundaries are a scary thing if most of our lives we were never taught how to stand up for ourselves, how to create our own opinions…how to be ourselves and not what other people wanted us to be.
Regardless of the individual, whether it is a parent who lives alone, an uncle you haven’t seen in years, or a relative who’s health hasn’t been good lately, you are allowed to say no. You know your boundaries and you know what these people did to you.You know what type of behaviors they have and how they have not changed. It can be extremely hard to stand up fo yourself when you were never given the opportunity to do that yourself because those who said they “loved you” only filled your head with doubts and insecurities.
Sometimes it’s difficult to identify whether someone is toxic or not since you have been through that same cycle all of your life, so you just see it as a normal behavior.
Which Signs To Look Out For
It doesn’t necessarily have to be a specific sign, but rather something that makes you feel uncomfortable.
I gathered a list of my personal experiences that maybe some of you can relate to.
• They act like what happened to you wasn’t really that serious and that you should be over it already
• They have different perspectives of religion and they don’t support your beliefs, or they simply just try to change your mind into believing in what they do
• They act all worried about you but when you needed a helping hand, no one was to be found
• Their political views go against what yours are. And no, I am not talking about political parties, but rather, on what’s right and what’s wrong. Human rights should always be the first priority
• You find out from other people, and even strangers that your family has been talking about you behind your back
• They question absolutely everything that you’ve done and continuously search for things to make you feel bad
• Everything you, like or care about, it’s not good enough for them, and they think that you should be focusing more on following society’s standards
• They hide things from you because apparently, you’re not as important as you thought you were
• The ”I’m so glad you didn’t turn out like your mother, but still you can do better” talks start happening
Again, the list goes on and on. It seems like an unbreakable cycle that has no end and you just feel trapped. You have absolute control of your boundaries and your priority should always be yourself and your mental health.
There is also another factor that a lot of us have to deal with, and that is the loss of a loved one over the festive season. Not only you’re dealing with toxic family during the holidays, but you also have to take time out to let yourself grieve the loss of someone who was the exception of all the toxicity going through your life. The only person that truly cared about you and your well-being – and now, they’re gone. The holidays always brings me so many memories, but the ones with that special person that is no longer with me, those are the memories that hurt the most. That is a permanent scar that no matter how much we try to cover it, it just keeps blooming, even more, every day.
Always remember to take care of yourself during this tough season. You have gone through so much and look at you, you’re still here. You can get through this…we can get through this.
I would love to hear from you in the comment section down below. Whether if it’s an experience, a memory, or anything that you’d like to share. Is dealing with toxic family during the holiday’s something that’s affecting you as well?
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