Whenever most of us think of family and going home we become excited with anticipation. We think of images of hugs, smiles and the warmth of a hug. For many people this is not their going home experience. For many images of fighting, caustic words flung all over carelessly, and rough touch comes to mind. They dread the holidays, they dread leaving work, and they dread the conversations forced upon them.
When the people who are supposed to love you, don’t, or the ones you share your name with humiliate or cause you shame, the feeling of loneliness and abandonment become insurmountable. Anger grows in this type of environment and when you react by holding that anger in, you become depressed, anxious, and cynical. Nothing matters more than being loved by the people you call family, and every human being needs to be loved by their family. I have witnessed people trying to fit into a family that is so sick that they have to medicate with anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medications, alcohol, drugs, food, and a whole list of other medications/or vices that don’t really work. Sometimes the key is to find a healthy group of friends and selective family members where you can feel a sense of belonging without having to hide who you are. Below are 3 tips that will make “going home” feel good again, and will help you leave feeling inspired rather than doomed.
1. Limit your time with family members who shame or humiliate you. No one should be around people who make them feel badly about themselves. Being related by blood or name does not give permission to beat someone up, whether it is verbal, emotional, or physical.
2. Bullies aren’t only on the playground. They can be people in your family. If you have been bullied all of your life, standing up and pointing out that you will no longer allow yourself or your children to be bullied can free you from a sick family member.
3. Never stay in the home with people who are supposed to love you but don’t. When you do this, you become vulnerable to their schedule and control. It is better if you have a “safe loving place” to retreat to after the get together. A hotel, a good friend’s home, or making the long trip back home are healthier options.
In this crazy world we all need a strong, loving family to go home to. If you find yourself feeling anxious or depressed being around your family, that is a sign that something needs to change. Look inside first, but also look around. Listen to the conversation. Your family is supposed to guide, mentor and believe in you. Life is precious and when going home begins to be an experience in feeling shame, betrayal or miserable, it is time to make new place settings at the table. –Mary Jo Rapini
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