- Family and Parenting
When People Try to Steal Your Holiday Joy!
The following stories are hypothetical. I'm writing this today to share with those who may be hurting this holiday season.
The holidays bring out the best in some and the worst in others.
Always keep in mind, today is the first day of the rest of your life.
When others violate your peace.
Many people coming across this article will find it through searching out answers to their feelings of hurt and betrayal this holiday season.
Usually starting around Thanksgiving and ending after the New Year, stress increases throughout most of the homesteads in America. Worry is a driving factor in holiday stress as well as money.
I'm writing this article for the benefit of those who find constant turmoil in their family lives during the holidays.
The biggest piece of advice I can offer is to love yourself first. Then seek to understand and accept what you cannot change. Leave the rest alone and enjoy yourself this year.
Separating yourself from relatives with intentions of emotionally hurting you every holiday.
Believe it or not, there are people out there that live for the rush of hurting someone else. Putting someone else in an emotionally-devastating turn before a holiday has become a sport to some. They think by pulling on the heartstrings of someone else that cares for them, they themselves find relief.
What does this mean? What relief does a person find by hurting someone else?
I truly believe, based on experience, that there are people that lack emotional empathy. To these people, it becomes a game to hurt the ones that love them most. They find relief in hurting because it's a "feel good" result in which they feel empowered by bringing someone else down.
For example, Maggie had planned an elegant Thanksgiving. It was the first year with her new baby. Her marriage was perfect. She couldn't wait to invite her friends to her new home. She shopped at an antique store in town and bought beautiful linens and fine China to decorate each place setting. She also made place cards for each guest. She had waited so long for this day to come. She was truly excited to spend this Thanksgiving with the friends and family she loved most. She even bought her daughter a special dress for taking pictures with her grandparents for her memory album.
The day of Thanksgiving, she tried to call her mom to make sure she was on her way. She didn't need a thing. Everything was set up. The turkey was just about ready. Thirty minutes after the time she told her mom to arrive, she tried to call her again. The phone appeared to be off, as she was put directly in to voicemail each call.
Finally, as the guests waited patiently, Maggie made the decision to start dinner without her mother. She felt terrible that she started without her. Her mother never called back. Not on Thanksgiving, not even the week after. No explanation was given. No apology was offered.
Maggie felt embarrassed in front of the guests that had waited. She also felt hurt that her daughter wouldn't have a picture with grandma that first Thanksgiving.
It wasn't until Christmas was nearing that she ran into her aunt at the grocery store. Her aunt had been with Maggie's mother on Thanksgiving. Maggie was shocked. Her aunt went on to tell Maggie that her mother had told everyone at Thanksgiving dinner that despite Maggie's invitation, her mother would never sit at her Thanksgiving table because Maggie constantly picks fights with her. When Maggie heard this news, she felt outraged. Her mother had lied to a house full of guests at her aunt's house on Thanksgiving.
What did Maggie do to overcome a feeling of loss? It hurt her to find out that her mother had gone to someone else's house and spread gossip about her. But most importantly, her mother didn't even care about her own grandchild. Maggie was understandably hurt.
Maggie looked at this scenario as an opportunity to distance herself from her mother. She no longer trusted her mother, and knew she had to go on in life without her. After all, she had her own family now and needed to focus on them.
The story of Goose Girl by Grimm.
A kind-hearted princess was disrobed and changed in to a servant's clothing to trick the family of the prince she was about to marry. Upon finding out that the girl dressed in the servant's clothing was in fact the princess, the prince took her hand in marriage and they reigned over the kingdom for many years.
What would you do if you were Maggie?
Don't allowing intrusive relatives to ruin your holiday experience.
Every home has a unique way of decorating for and celebrating a holiday. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to individual preference and choice.
It's never ok for someone to judge your home. Your home is space designed by you for maximum peace and protection. You choose your furniture and your décor. You maintain your home. You pay your bills. So who, other than you, has the right to intrude upon your style and tastes and tell you it's all wrong?
For example, Sandra loves to decorate for Christmas. She puts up a table to display her lighted Christmas village. She buys a fresh tree and spares no expense on the decorations. She fills her fireplace mantle with nutrcrackers from around the world. Her home could be the front cover of a magazine.
Sandra's grandmother and aunts are very set in their ways and often loudly-spoken about their opinions. Sandra's grandmother prefers a fake tree covered in tinsel that shines in the overhead living room lights. While Sandra's aunts like antique collectibles to adorn their staircases, fireplace mantles, and bathrooms.
Sandra loves the way everyone decorates because they are all unique and different. Sandra feels it would be boring if everyone decorated the same way.
But year after year, Sandra is expected to host Christmas dinner at her house. It becomes very challenging because she doesn't have room to decorate the way she likes and entertain a house full of guests.
Sandra decided to downsize her décor to make additional room for Christmas pies.
As the relatives arrive, they notice Sandra still uses a smaller table for her light-up Christmas village. Not having enough room for their casseroles to go next to the Christmas pies, they decide to move the Christmas village to the floor and put their dishes down on the fake white snow covering the little card table.
Sandra is understandably upset when someone accidently kicks a Department 56 Christmas village and shatters it in to tiny pieces. She asks her guests to relocate the food dishes to the breakfast counter where she had set out hot pads before they arrived. The guests become accusatory and start shouting at Sandra. They tell her how inconsiderate she is to put out a lighted Christmas village when she knew they would be bringing food with them. Sandra tried to explain that she had set out the hot pads for their casseroles, but it fell on deaf ears. No one apologized for breaking Sandra's Christmas village piece and instead continuously antagonized her throughout dinner.
What's the solution when family do not act as guests, but rather set expectations higher than they would if they had dined at a stranger's home?
Sandra felt terrible about what happened as she picked up the remaining shards of glass from the Christmas village. She found it online and decided to purchase a new one to pack away for next year. She didn't want to re-open the wound upon re-opening the Christmas village storage box. Perhaps she'll forget about it in time. Most importantly, she has decided not to have guests next Christmas. She will enjoy the peace of celebrating Christmas volunteering at a soup kitchen.
Letting go of negative life experiences makes room for more positive outcomes!
- 5 Ways to Cope with a Mother Suffering from a Person...
October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Have you ever felt cheated out of your relationship with your mother due to abuse and bullying caused by an underlying personality disorder?
What would you do if you were Sandra?
Expect holiday turmoil and discontent.
When you have an expectation that isn't met, it causes disappointment.
So when you have become accustomed to disappointment, expect it.
Live your life understanding that there are some people that will never be happy. Those people will turn on you, they will hurt you and take away your joy around the holidays, and they will use you to gain relief from their own misery.
When you grow to expect turmoil, you won't be disappointed when you encounter it.
For example, Becky recently married a man with grown children. She has children of her own from a prior marriage that are still young. When her children were born, she decided to start a tradition every year so that her children could grow up enjoying warm memories of the holidays as she had with her grandmother who has now passed away.
But after marrying her husband, she learned that her mother-in-law expected her to go to Christmas Eve at her house every year at 7 p.m. This conflicted with Becky's traditions for her own children. Christmas Eve was reserved for her family. She always made a special meal of Cornish hens, roasted corn, and buttery mashed potatoes. She would take her children out to look at Christmas lights while sipping on hot chocolate. Then, her children would open one gift each and snuggle in to bed while waiting for Christmas morning. This is how it's always been for her family, and this is all her children have ever known.
Upon asking her children if they minded going to her mother-in-law's for Christmas Eve, the children said they'd rather spend Christmas Eve doing what they've always done. They don't want another tradition. They like their own.
Not wanting to cause hurt feelings or turmoil within her husband's family, she thought it would be ok to go earlier in the day on Christmas Eve. Her mother-in-law lived quite a distance away and if they did go in the evening, it would be far too late to put together Christmas gifts before morning.
Her husband's family was not so compassionate toward Becky or her children. They didn't feel Becky was trying to make anyone happy but herself. Her mother-in-law told her that Christmas Eve is her day and Becky ruined it.
What's the solution for Becky? While on one hand, she was thinking about her mother-in-law's feelings, but also has her own family. She didn't come in to the marriage with no children, and without prior traditions of her own.
As tough as a situation as this was, Becky had to tell her mother-in-law that her own family traditions must come first. She could visit with her mother-in-law before Christmas, and even help her go shopping for Christmas dinner. But, she would have to pass on sharing Christmas Eve because she had her own plans.
What would you do if you were Becky?
When you are being used for your emotional health.
This last example is one that many people can relate to.
I often meet people who are extremely successful, happy, brilliant, vibrant, and joyous in life. They attract opposites.
Unfortunately, good people find themselves in turmoil with people who want to rob them of their emotional health.
For example, Ken was a happy-go-lucky kind of guy. He had a successful career, beautiful wife, darling children, and was well-liked in the entire community.
Ken's parents had passed away. He had one remaining relative named Steve. Over the years, Steve had done many things to hurt Ken. Steve stole from Ken on several occasions. Steve created strife for Ken's friends and neighbors. Steve also told a lot of lies about Ken to mutual friends over the years creating turmoil.
Steve had violent disruptive emotional outbursts. Steve couldn't hold down a job. He quit his last job. He met a woman and moved in with her. She paid all of Steve's bills.
Any time Steve has been on the receiving end of honest criticism for the wrongdoings he does against Ken, Steve retaliates with anger and malicious actions. He won't accept any responsibility for what he has done to Ken in the past. Ken has tried to distance himself and avoid Steve. Steve uses mob mentality to gain strength in numbers with neighbors to attack Ken's personal life.
Every year, around the holidays, Steve would surface right before Thanksgiving. He never had a care in the world about Ken's family any other time of year. But sure enough, every Thanksgiving, Steve would call Ken and promise him the world. He would promise to buy the biggest turkey and have it delivered to Ken's family. He would promise to visit Ken's family and bring them Christmas gifts.
Because Steve and Ken are close in age, many people in the community know of them. What they didn't know is how vindictive Steve is toward Ken.
Steve wanted what Ken had. Not just a beautiful family and home. He was jealous of Ken's happiness. Steve had never been happy. When he was a kid, he was a downer. As an adult, he was out-of-control, irresponsible, and made poor decisions.
Many times Steve would call Ken just to brag about how he had a party and "forgot" to invite Ken. This told Ken that Steve was trying to make him jealous. But Ken never fell for it. It never worked. Steve was relentless.
Finally, Ken learned that Steve had poisoned many people's minds. Through gossip and vicious rumors of mistreatment, Steve convinced Ken's friends that Ken was a bad person.
Ken fell on hard times. He was out of work. Instead of reaching out to help Ken, Steve wore sheep's clothing to find out the gossip about Ken's hard luck. Pretending to care, Steve made more promises to Ken. He pretended to have compassion. He pretended that he would help Ken through the difficult times. Ken had always been there for Steve when Steve needed help.
But yet, Ken found out through a mutual friend what Steve was planning to do. Steve had already made holiday plans with his girlfriend's family. He would not be coming over with a turkey that he promised Ken. In fact, Steve asked for donations within the community to help Ken without Ken's knowledge. But then Steve didn't give the donations that the caring community had supportively brought to Steve for Ken. No, Steve had other plans to keep the donations for himself. Including money that people generously gave to help Ken's family through a hard time.
When the mutual friend reported about Steve's plans, Ken confronted Steve in a direct way. He told Steve to return the money because he felt Steve had stolen it from the community. He told Steve that it was a low stunt that he had pulled, even for Steve!
Steve harshly commented back that Ken needs to "grow up" and start looking in the mirror. Steve told Ken that he should be ashamed of himself. Steve never accepted responsibility for his wrongdoing. He belittled and tried to shame Ken through abusive words.
Eventually, Ken heard enough. He told Steve to stop the harassment or charges would be filed against him.
Steve's reply was that he had tried so hard, and it was Ken's fault, not his own. Steve was playing the victim.
What is the solution to Ken's dilemma? Steve pretended to be his friend to solicit donations for himself through concerned neighbors. When Ken tried talking about it to mutual friends, they began telling him that they weren't going to take his side. They were all taking Steve's side. Because Steve had poisoned them all long before Ken even knew there was a plan in place.
Ken realized that he would not only have to distance himself from Steve, but all the friends who had made a choice to take Steve's side. Friends of a feather flock together. Were they really Ken's friends to begin with?
What would you do in Steve's shoes?
It has been my experience that sometimes the only thing we think we have left is our family.
But truth be known, even though we can't pick our relatives, we can distance ourselves when our own health and life is in jeopardy. Many people fall prey to the tactics that abusive relatives use against them, especially during sentimental times like Thanksgiving and Christmas.
If you have experienced guilt, stress, emotional hurt, betrayal, or your trust with a relative was broken around the holidays and continues to be every year, my advice to you is to distance yourself from them. You only have one life to life. You can never take back the years you lost due toxic familial relationships.
Also, don't settle to surround yourself with people who treat you unkindly. After all, we're taught from Kindergarten to treat others like we want to be treated. Therefore, treat yourself with respect. Have compassion for yourself. This means knowing "when to fold them; when to hold them; when to walk away; when to run." Count your blessings and just know that your life is so much more than pain and feeling trapped by family that just doesn't get it. Women are often taught, "if the man is just not in to you", what to look out for. But they are rarely taught how to spot a wolf in sheep's clothing at a feast among family.
The most healthy way to celebrate holidays is to avoid stressors which cause you to feel panic and anxiety. If going to family celebrations is not a happy experience for you, then don't do it.
Focus on your immediate home life and the family that surrounds you every day.
People that can't make time for you any other day of the year, are not worth your sacrifice one day of the year. And this is the solution: because family is a group of people affiliated by birth, not by our own choice.
I believe that when we put our hopes in false relationships, we will be disappointed every time. But when we look for relationships with meaning, that are not all one-sided, we will find the peace and happiness we've been searching for to live our life to the fullest, and enjoy the holidays as they were meant. Peacefully.
Do you suffer in silence from years of antagonistic relatives emotionally abusing you to suit their own need for their relief of their misery? Know that you aren't alone. There are many kind strangers that would love to treat you with the kindness you deserve.
Here are ways to help someone who is suffering from feeling unloved by their own family.
- Invite them to dinner at your home this Thanksgiving. It will relieve them from the pressure they feel from their family.
- Be kind to them. You never know how a person feels until you walk in their shoes.
- Show them what a family means; some people have never had a real one.
- Be their secret santa this year.
- Never take for granted the fact that you have a loving family when there are others out there longing for one.