This time of year can be filled with stress, anxiety, self-doubt, and guilt if you have chosen to disconnect from parts of your family. For me, I spent years trying to understand and accept the media-perfect images that I am continuously bombarded with this time of year are just fabrications of some marketing executive’s imagination; they are not the standard bearers for what it is SUPPOSED to be. There is not something wrong with me if my holidays don’t look like those splayed out in every magazine, big box display, and Lifetime movie special.
I am not broken because my holidays don’t look like this.
As I have gotten older, I have removed more and more “toxic” people from my circle. Most of them have been family members. This isn’t just a product of getting older though; I’ve always operated under a set of rules to help me survive. If you added value to my life, you stayed. I put forth the effort because the relationship was impactful and positive to me in some way and hopefully it was the same for the other person in return. If a person brought nothing but drama, distress and heartache? I walked away.
With some people, I didn’t walk away for long. Some of my family got more of my effort, my time, and my love than they ever realized or deserved in an effort to make it work. Aren’t you SUPPOSED to have a relationship with your own mother? Your brother? Your remaining extended family? I’ve learned over the years, through a lot of therapy and self work that no, you aren’t supposed to have a relationship with anyone that doesn’t value you as a human being. Doesn’t respect your right to exist. Isn’t interested in who you are as a person and what is important to you. Those people don’t deserve your time and energy.
I’m not talking about arguing with your family over politics and the state of our world today, although I know many families are fracturing because of these topics now. What I’m talking about here is the long-term tearing down of who you are as a person. Those who would allow others to say the most vile untruths about you and not only permit it to happen, but blame you as bringing it upon yourself. It doesn’t matter that we share DNA, I love myself more than to be subjected to that kind of abuse ever again.
I had a conversation with someone close to me recently about regrets. She was curious why I didn’t make amends with some of these people in my life, concerned that if “something happened” I would have regrets about not speaking. From her life perspective, it makes total sense. I completely understand where she is coming from. But no, I’m not opening those doors again. I have nothing left to say. And if tomorrow comes and they are no longer here? I have no regrets. A relationship is a two-way street, and my phone number hasn’t changed in twenty years.
This unapologetic as f*ck place that I now reside? It was scary getting here. It took a lot of work. I had to let go of my ego and the ideas of what and who I thought I was and get to the bottom of why I was so unhappy and hurt. And what life choices I had made because of that pain. I had to learn that I was worth being loved for who I wanted to be and who I really was deep inside. I am not the person others decided I was, then dropped in the appropriate labeled box, slammed and locked the lid, and stuffed on a shelf to rot.
I’m not the same person I was when my father died. Most of my family disconnection happened after he passed, and while I know that I can stand in a place of absolutely certainty that I have grown and evolved since then, it does not require me to give those that turned their back on me then access to me now. Or my children.
So if that means I don’t see my favorite aunt and uncle for Christmas dinner because there will be family members there that I no longer allow in my universe, then so be it. If the relationship is important to both of us we will figure out a way to stay connected during the rest of the year. A meal on the 25th of December does not a relationship make.
Chose yourself. Chose your children. Chose the people in your life that love you and accept you for who you are and appreciate the light and love that resides within you. Let the guilt go, and remember that you don’t owe anyone a piece of yourself because the date on the calendar says you are supposed to.