“If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.” – George Bernard Shaw
You can never get rid of your background and it will creep in when you least expect it.
The trick is to ‘make it dance’ and make it work for you, not against you.
Now that is easier said than done I know.
Holidays bring it all back into focus. Often with a vengeance.
We have all seen the Norman Rockwell picture of that perfect family having Thanksgiving dinner. They are all smiling and the mother is bringing in the beautiful turkey and so on…
Well, behind the scenes…
How often are there family members that are merely tolerated, wish they didn’t have to be together, or have outright rotten memories and current bad feelings? It happens a lot.
The grandparents who think everything is not the way they would do it. The differences between them and their children and grandchildren are spoken about or whispered; the parents or step-parents with no real caring between them, the siblings with all their resentments… You name it; the feelings are there and front and center at that holiday get together.
The old hatreds, rivalries, competitions and just yucky sentiments are within. They may never go away. Not having to see one another helps but we carry our pasts inside.
Sometimes alcohol loosens it all and out come words or behaviors that lay buried. Be careful with this. We do not forget what is said and more importantly we remember the actions and behavior.
You always know who likes or dislikes you, just by how they make you feel.
As we mature, and that’s not years necessarily, we have a whole raft of experiences and relationships with other people outside our family.
These may underscore the family message or it may cause you to see things in a different light.
You may feel better with those chosen people; the friends.
All close relationships involve struggle and pain. The more intimate you are the stronger the sentiments. With family however, we were victims as children and had no recourse.
How often do you see or read about an abused child that still wants to be with their parent? It is all we know so we hold on, no matter what.
No one grows up in a perfect family. No one has all their emotional needs or sometimes even their concrete needs, met.
What to do about it?
Well, you can bitch and complain, some do for a lifetime. They never take on their own responsibility. Some fight back and become the bully in many other relationships, some grin and bear it, and some crumble. We have many emotional cripples as a result.
My advice is to acknowledge what happened in the past, know it is there, and then move on to take charge of your own happiness. Only you can make you happy!!
Now it is true situations can occur, and some family members know exactly what buttons to push to get your goat. Don’t take the bait because that means they get you. Be in control of you and your feelings. You cannot deny them but you can ameliorate what doesn’t work for you.
Think about the life you have made for yourself, and the people that are kind to you. Do not get hung up on any family member’s own issues and old junk. It is like a trap or mine field. See it as their problem and do not make it yours.
If there is resentment, jealousy, competition, or just any old bad feelings, do not stick with it… move on.
If all that is pleasant to talk about is the weather, or things outside of real connection; so be it. That’s as far as it can go. Wishing won’t make it different.
You cannot relive or correct what happened but you can damn well live it your way now.
Smile a lot and hum to yourself and concentrate on things that bring you pleasure. Tune out the bad music!
And accidents happen; a broken glass, spilled wine on the white tablecloth, a car scrape, and so on. Then you must roll with it and not ruin the whole deal.
If you are in a family that has developed to the point of being able to give and receive love just kick back and enjoy it. No reason to not let it all just flow and become a lovely memory of a holiday with people that are related to you.
Sometimes it is the people we have chosen, as friends that bring us more joy. Then stay there.
Neither commitment or blood ever trumps choice!!
“The family you come from isn’t as important as the family you’re going to have.” – Ring Lardner