Reach Out Recovery Exclusive by Merle Honsa: Holiday expectations can break your heart. As the youngest of four children I was automatically labeled “The Baby” and thus began my journey of being left out. My older siblings treated me as the Baby even now when I am old enough to have grandchildren of my own.
A Lifetime Of Unfulfilled Holiday Expectations
My siblings have chosen to exclude me from much of their lives for their own reasons: I wasn’t old enough; they thought I got special treatment from my parents: we have different religious, and yes, different political views. Then, when they were getting married and having children, I had the pleasure of always being at the “kids” table because I wasn’t old enough, or didn’t have that special person in my life. My siblings get together to see each other without me, and don’t even ask if I’d like to be included. If any of the above resembles your family interactions, maybe these four tips will help you get through the holidays.
First Ditch The Holiday Expectations Of Happy Unified Family
I have decided rather that wasting my time on being hurt because I am not included that I would adjust my expectations of them. Realizing that this is how they are and not to expect better behavior or manners from them. Putting my expectations of how I want them to act is not fair to them and no, I have never told them how much the exclusion has bothered me over the years. It goes back to you can’t expect others to make you happy, it comes from within. It has taken me a long time to get to this point and realize that I wish someone had told me these things years ago.
So, when your family is gathering for the holidays, think about these things instead of relying on your expectations, adjust your thinking to what you can control:
- Be happy and thankful that you have a family. Enjoy the time you can with them, as we all know they won’t be around forever.
- Accept family of origin as they are, and hope that they do the same for you. We all have our flaws, and they may have their own expectations that you don’t meet too.
- If you have to be with them, put a smile on your face. Most likely it’s for a short time, you can handle it!
- Remember that you can’t choose your blood family, but you can choose to spend time with “family” you choose, those who bring you joy. I have a whole separate “family” from my relatives. Make sure you set aside time for these people too and don’t feel the slightest bit guilty for giving yourself that time!
These expectations apply to all aspects of your life. When things aren’t going the way you “expect” them to, stop and make sure you aren’t forcing your expectations onto other situations.