My dad has a saying, ‘Christmas is not the same at everyone’s house’ and I am sure if you were to survey the people in your various circles, you will receive an array of responses and excitement levels as it pertains to the upcoming holiday season.
There are some people who absolutely adore this time of year, the nostalgia of pleasant childhood memories, reunions with loved ones, traveling down memory lane, the hustle and bustle of ‘competitive shopping’ (lol).
For others this will be the first holiday season meeting your significant other’s families, perhaps the first year traveling together as a couple or family or experiencing the excitement of a winter engagement or wedding.
Whereas for others this time of year is extremely challenging due to a recent or historic loss (i.e. divorce, death, miscarriage, breakup, etc.), current marital status or perhaps being away from family (i.e. military).
Dreaded Family Reunions
Yet and still another group may dread family reunions because of the normal, yet very unkind, unloving and emotionally abusive practice of belittlement that occurs which is masked as humor. The family members who joke about your weight, sexuality, marital status or who share embarrassing stories about your past in front of others. The family members who have the expectation to ‘suck it up’ and get over ‘it.’
The truth is NO ONE has the right or receives a pass to abuse you on ANY level (mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, financial) REGARDLESS of their relationship to you. The excuse of, ‘That is just how mama, grandmother, cousin, uncle, etc. is’ is not acceptable. Humor is when both parties view it as such, if one person’s feelings are hurt as a result of your ‘humor’ then why would you continue to do it? Is your true intention to hurt their feelings?
Under no circumstances are you obligated to accept poor behavior from anyone, including your family. As an adult you have the right and responsibility to protect your health on all levels. This holiday season, use your voice to convey to others if their behavior is unacceptable. You may have to teach some people how to treat you and this begins by standing up for yourself. For example,
“Aunt, when you say X, I feel Y because of Z. Or When you say X, it really hurts my feelings and I am asking you to stop.”
Now the ball is in their court. Will they honor your request? If not, you have the right to limit the type of access (if any) they have to you and this may include no longer participating in holiday functions at their house or no longer extending invites to them. No one absolutely NO ONE has the right to abuse you and yes belittling is a form of emotional abuse. - Misha N. Granado, MPH, MS