Toxic families are not a rarity in any culture. Unfortunately, some family members are seemingly placed on this earth to give us a taste of their own hell. And that’s not something we should tolerate now or ever — including during the holidays.
Growing up, I thought my family dynamic should mimic Disney Channel or Nickelodeon TV shows. You know, similar to “The George Lopez Show” and “Lizzie McGuire.” The idea of sharing the most special moments with your family and being able to discuss important issues in a civilized manner was the epitome of a perfect family for me. But that would mean I was placed in a healthy, emotionally mature family. Spoiler alert: I wasn’t.
Instead, I can recall family reunions featuring drunken messes, insults, and other despicable things no one should ever experience — especially not from their own family.
The extended family was no better. And those who did show interest in giving me that warmth were either too far or too busy with their own lives, which is understandable.
Years of heartache and basking in the despair that familiar solitude can bring made me realize that life is too short to lament things we can’t change. Well, that and plenty of therapy.
I know the holidays are a time where we all yearn for close proximity to those whose sole jobs should be to love and care for us, but the reality is a rude cachetada we need to feel on our face by now.
It’s during this time where we wonder if we should give our toxic families that one last shot. Besides, this could be the year we become a Disney Channel holiday special, right? Wrong. That’s the optimist in you, and though you should nurture your optimistic soul, pay attention to the realist in you as well. After all, you don’t want to expose yourself to another disappointment.
If by now you’re still wondering whether or not you should visit your toxic familia, let me help you. Read below and think carefully about how each statement makes you feel.
Are you worried about getting judged or insulted if you visit your family?
If the answer is yes, then don’t go.
If the answer is no or you don’t know, move to the next question.
Are you preparing your act for the night, meaning you will hide who you truly are?
If the answer is yes, don’t go.
If the answer is no or you aren’t sure if you are, then move on to the next question. However, keep in mind that pretending to be someone you’re not is exhausting. If you choose to play someone you’re not, remember you’ll have to keep that act for each and every event after — what an annoying way to burden yourself.
Do you get anxious at just the thought of interacting with your family
If the answer is yes, well, you already know what we will tell you. (Don’t go).
If the answer is no or you don’t know if you are experiencing anxiety, dive into your most recent memories of interacting with your family. Did it make you feel good for the most part or not really? If you don’t enjoy those memories, then chances are you shouldn’t give them the time of day.
Do you have friends or other loved ones that make you feel more “at home”?
If the answer is yes, why even bother going to see your family’s event? Friends that become family are a treasure and shouldn’t be taken for granted. I swear some of my best holiday memories are with people who don’t even share the same blood as me, and it’s beautiful. I hope everyone gets to experience it at some point in their lives.
If the answer is no, it’s okay. Don’t stress too much. Put things into perspective and think whether or not your presence at your family event won’t stress you out. If you feel that it won’t, then go. But make sure you take care of yourself and your mental health above everything.
Do you not care about how they treat you and just want to go regardless of the outcome?
If the answer is yes, then go for it. At the end of the day, you know how much you can handle. Enjoy it and, if anything, be the example your family needs.
If the answer is no, then avoid your family’s holiday party.
The truth is that you are more than free to show up to your family’s gathering or not. Maybe you can even arrange to have a space where you can be far away from their negativity. Perhaps make your way towards your favorite cousin or family friend, if that’s an option.
The ultimate goal is that you enjoy yourself during the holidays. Should you feel like you’re having a shitty time at any family event, just pick up and go. No one can stop you — you are the one in charge of your life now.