I recently was interviewed for an article in The Boston Globe on reasons why people may choose to be alone on Thanksgiving. It got me thinking about what a trigger the holidays can be for people for a variety of reasons (food, drinks, family, chaos – what could go wrong?).
Holidays for many of my clients are a hot-button issue. There’s an enormous pressure to spend this time with the people who birthed you, raised you, or otherwise take credit for a large aspect of your identity-forming.
But what if your family sucks?
I’d like to stick a stake in the ground right now and declare:
You don’t have to spend time with family over the holidays!
I know this might be easier said than done but before you impulsively respond to the sense of obligation, stop, pause, and think it over. Perhaps this year or next you’d like to stay home, do a Friendsgiving, volunteer with a soup kitchen, visit elders in your community, or do your own thing solo. Just because we are pressured to spend time with family doesn’t mean we actually have to.
So if you need a little help thinking about how to talk to your family about it – look no farther! I’ve created some excuses for you to try. Feel free to add your own flourish to each of these. Hell, you can even try them all!
10 good excuses to not see your family over the holidays:
1. My scapegoat escaped.
2. I’ve stopped all of my meds.
3. My [friend / lover / cat] really needs me.
4. I can’t leave my plants.
5. My therapist told me not to go.
6. My doctor says I’m really contagious.
7. I can’t afford the therapy it takes me to recover this year.
8. I want to come but my soul won’t let me.
9. I’ve become a Scientologist.
10. My favorite: I don’t want to!
If your family undermines your sense of self-worth, passive aggressively snubs you, or is the source of your trauma it’s ok to ditch them! I understand this may be hard for many. I recommend talking it over with a therapist or good friend because your mental health is worth it!