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People In Your Life May Not Change (Holiday Tips & Tricks)

I really hope I can do this blog justice and also myself today. Sometimes I am a much better verbal communicator than written but I'm going to give it a go and if I need to I'll keep talking about it on my podcast this week.

I had an experience today that I'm going to try and unpack but it's hard because it's a fresh wound that also revealed other wounds that are deeper. Wounds that are connected to how I felt growing and experienced growing up and the pain that accompanies healing.

I'm not going to get into my family history but those of you that follow me know it is complicated - full of trauma, abandonment, rejection, and emotional turmoil. This means I have and will continue to do the work of healing myself for the rest of my life. That's all you need to know for this blog to make sense. My family of origin = a lot of pain and trauma and is never easy or straightforward.

This morning I was gearing up to have what I thought would be a relatively straightforward conversation with my dad about a party he wanted to throw for Christmas and my brother's birthday. My brother and his family are unvaccinated so this = a pretty straightforward "no" on my part. But, as I said before, there is never a straightforward anything with my family.

My dad started the phone call by launching into whether I got the text he sent about the party. I don't think he intentionally does this to get me off my guard but it almost always does - he's a launcher. I said, "hold on a minute isn't he (my brother) still unvaccinated?" He said, "well I don't know, you need to call him and ask him."- essentially making me responsible for doing emotional labor for a party I'm not even throwing. Then said he didn't want to get in the middle of it with his kids - including my sister and my other brother- who I hadn't mentioned in the phone call. I asked if he had gotten a booster shot yet and then he launched into some strange ideas about covid transmission - which made the already hard phone call get "covid weird" and I wasn't about to die on that hill. He was trying to prove to me why it'd be okay for him to expose himself to the virus when I haven't said anything about what he should or shouldn't do.

Now, I'm having to explain why I can't go places where people are unvaccinated (more of my time and energy spent) - Todd (My husband) just got out of quarantine after contracting a Covid variant from a student at his school, my kids are coming for Christmas and won't be able to come home if we are exposed, if I get it I will not be able to work, etc.

And herein lies the problem - Spending time explaining context to someone that can't and won't hear me.

  • I am once again defending myself and my decision for a very rational reason.

  • I am once again put in the position to do the emotional labor in my family (which, thanks to therapy and work, I refuse to do)

  • Once again the person with trauma is told what they can and can't talk about so that the rest can be comfortable.

  • Once again I feel like I have to be an asshole, the difficult one, the one that others roll their eyes about.

None of this is a shock to me. And thanks to all the work I've done on myself, I can own the "clear is kind, unclear is unkind" quote I learned from Brene Brown. I don't cower, I don't shut down - I speak as clearly and as kindly as I can.

And yet, here I am - again feeling all the anger and sadness of wanting a dad (or fill in the blank with who fits this for you) to say something like - "I'm throwing a birthday party for your brother I wanted to make sure you knew you were invited but I understand you probably can't make it because he's not vaccinated." He's never going to say anything like that. So I would even take a little passive-aggressive ownership like - "I'm having a party and because of your weird covid rules you won't be able to come but I thought you should know."

When I hung up the phone, I was angry - bordering on rage- and feeling this way also made me angry. It wasn't about me policing what I should or shouldn't be feeling but at the same time, it is about me being tired of expending energy on this AGAIN. My feelings are normal and appropriate for how my family has treated me and responded to my childhood abuse. And again - I am tired of this same old-same old. I sometimes just wish I could say fuck you and move on.

What I’m left with is the realization that I have much more I need to grieve. To let myself really grieve what I wanted, what I needed, and what I will never get. Not just quickly trying to move through it and beyond it but to really allowing myself all the tears for however long it takes because I am worth it.

You are worth it too. Whatever your situation you are worth fully feeling it.



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