“On this holiday season, I belong to me, before I belong to anyone else.
One of the things I struggled most with in recovery from a broken family is creating a sense of belonging. Do you know how hard that is when you can’t simultaneously please everyone, no matter how hard you try?
When we give others the power to mold us into their expectations, we find ourselves squeezed, prodded, stretched, and still unable to win. We may pacify others temporarily, but we always have to betray our own needs in order to do so.
The other thing I’ve learned, is that there is simply no way to please everyone. Every part of being a product of a broken family is a double-edged sword. There is no way for me to be exactly what other people want from me. If I were to try to make ONE person happy, I would make 10 more unhappy, and worst of all- no matter who I tried to please, I would never be doing what was in my best interest. There is literally no winning this way. There is only self-harm while trying desperately to balance the scales.
There. Is. No. Winning.
The only way to have something even remotely resembling a win, is to worry about our own needs.
We get ONE life to live, one. Don’t be afraid to take up space and serve yourself for once in your life. You are not selfish, you are being bucked for boundaries, self-care, and refusal to self-sacrifice.
This is a heavy burden to carry every single day, but it can make one specific time of year a nightmare.
Yep, you already know where I’m going with this:
The holidays are coming, have you started thinking about what you need at ALL, or are you already stressing about which parent you’re going to upset, and how you’re going to please everyone? It’s no wonder you dread the holidays every year.
Listen to me, you who are already being dragged into multiple group texts, guilt tripped, and feeling like the middle of the rope in a game of tug-of-war, with fragments of your own heart pulling you in every direction.
It is NOT your job to run yourself ragged trying to be everything to everyone. Especially when you could travel 5,000 miles in one weekend and still have multiple people mad at you for not doing enough, or mad at you for trying to share time. (Yes, I have tried this too, I tried it for a decade and found that I still lost, no matter what).
Your family does not care that your kids are spending their entire holiday in the car instead of making memories, robbing them of their childhoods. They don’t care that you’ll wind up exhausted. They only care if you show up for THEM… but how many times have they truly shown up for YOU this year? All they have to do is stay home and complain and get their way time and time again. They don’t care about the effect it has on you, how it makes you feel torn, how it leaves you feeling more broken, stretched thin, and exhausted in every way humanly possible.
Do not keep playing this game that you cannot win. It’s literally impossible. Do not bend over backwards and betray yourself this year. Do not.
You belong wherever you want to be. If that’s at home in bed with take-out and Netflix, SO BE IT.
If that’s volunteering at your local soup kitchen, SO BE IT.
If that’s at one parent’s house, or your spouse’s parents’ house SO BE IT.
If it means you feel like being the one who doesn’t have to drive for once, and offering an open invite for whoever cares to show up, SO BE IT.
If you want to start any sort of new tradition that goes against the grain, SO BE IT.
If you make the decision to draw straws and pick one place to go, or decide to start alternating each year going forward, SO BE IT.
I don’t care if your grandparents have been doing the same thing for 50 years and expect you to show up. Your grandparents need to take into consideration that you have 4, 6, or 10 different invites, and you already wish you could be in a million places at once. It’s hard enough without added guilt.
Our situation is a direct result of the decisions of the generations before us, and we will no longer tolerate being punished for it.
People will be mad, but people will be mad no matter WHAT you do, so take yourself out of the rat race. If you can only take care of one person emotionally, give yourself permission to let it be you.
You will never belong in a box of other’s unending demands. You belong to you, before you belong to anyone else.
So be it, and cheers to that!
PS- Dear extended family, the proper response to your loved one not being able to be in a dozen places at once is, ‘We’ll miss you, but we understand. Let’s get together another day!’ Anything more or less than that is emotional abuse that we do not deserve.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Hayley Runnels of The Undone Mama. Join her support group, Daughters Recovering from Toxic Family Relationships with The Undone Mama, here. Follow her on Instagram here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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