As Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years approaches, I’m aware of how the holidays feel this year. No sense of obligation, toxicity, sweeping things under the rug, fake smiles, surface conversations and repressed emotions, but there was a price to pay, I had to detach and sever all ties to my family.
Family has always been a heavy and loaded subject for me.
I use to feel ashamed for not having a normal upbringing. Answering simple questions like, “are you visiting your parents for the holidays?” would be hard to answer because I didn’t want to, but felt like I needed to because that’s what everyone else did. My family is the type that only meets once or twice a year, usually on Thanksgiving and Christmas, but for the rest of the year, 363 days, we’d never speak or see each other – ever. As you can imagine, the dinner table is often awkward, silent or filled up with shallow conversations about the weather, business, and empty promises of staying in better contact.
This year, I had it. I was done. Done of feeling drained, invalidated and inauthentic. I was beginning to lose my truth in the dysfunction of family secrets, denial, betrayal, abuse, abandonment and a stolen Trust so I decided to take ownership of my life and to stick up for myself.
I confronted big issues, including the whereabouts of the stolen Trust, and required a new standard of living from my family that required mutual respect, honesty and accountability if our relationship was to continue. It made them extremely uncomfortable and they reacted with indifference, complete denial, zero contact or acknowledgment, dominance, manipulation, anger and rage. No one was willing to be accountable or even acknowledge the seriousness of our past, and so I had to detach and let go.
I don’t believe in the fallacy of unconditional love. There are times when you will, and should, stop loving someone. Usually for your own sake and sometimes for theirs.
In sharing my story, I hope it helps to let others know who also come from broken families, that they’re not alone. The holidays tend to trigger a slew of emotions, regrets, shame and guilt. The reality for some of us are NOT the big, happy families that movies, social media and commercials portray this time of year. I use to think something was wrong with me for not having that and now I’m accepting that it’s a part of my journey.
Severing from my family was not easy, but it feels responsible, and the honest thing to do.
It’s taken time to adjust, though I have no regrets, so I’m giving myself the space and grace to feel the emotions, heal and remind myself of the security I’ve given myself in creating my own family.
I’m having a new Thanksgiving this year with my partner’s family and the friends I’ve chosen to be my family.
And in that, I have much to be thankful for.
Your life is an adventure worth living,