-and all the other things that come with visiting family
In the words of Slade "It'sssssss Chirssstmasssssss!" The time of being jolly and fun all the time just like we see on those Christmas movies, right? RIGHT? Well, what about when we don’t feel jolly? What about when we see family and feel we need to hide our true selves? What about the extroverts that feel exhausted by large gatherings and what about those of us that are neurodivergent? The ones who don’t want family to know their sexuality because they wont get it? And what if you don't eat the same as the rest of the family… vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians? Sometimes it can all feel too much. Family members can pick on our insecurities. "Ohh you’ve put on weight haven't you?" "When are you having children?" "When are you going to settle Laura?(!)" Let's get one thing straight, Nan… I will never settle. I'm going to live an incredible life and I will not settle for anything less.
My grandparents, love them, always comment on my weight. If I've gained it, if I've lost it. Like my worth depends on the number on the scales… If that were the case surely you'd assume that the higher the number the more they love me. If I wear what I call a proper bra (an underwired padded bra) they comment that I have gained weight. I go back a day later in a bralette and they will say I look like I've lost weight… Like hoicking up my boobs makes me fatter some how. I wear clothes on top of my bras by the way. I don't want you thinking I only visit my grandparents in my undergarments. Now I wonder what they would say if I did that. My Nan wants me to stay in one place, find a house and stay there forever and ever. If you know me, even just a little, you'll know this isn't a reality for me. I am happiest when travelling. My Auntie wants me to find a man and get married, have a couple of kids. Safe to say I don’t tell her about my love life… How to protect yourself These people love you and I remind myself of this each time I find myself reacting and feeling annoyed with them. My dad is a worrier and we view the world very differently. He regularly tells me that whatever I'm up to is a bad idea and I remind myself that he is just worried about me and he is saying what he is saying out of love. I try not to argue with him about our mix matched beliefs. I avoid certain topics and if they come up I don’t bite. I love my Dad and I don't want to spend the holidays arguing, so I don’t. I'm not going to change his beliefs so I don’t see the point arguing. My peace is worth more than that. What about the people who make me feel shit about myself? Should I CUT THEM OUT?! This is a tough one. Cutting out people who make you feel shitty is all well and good, but what about when it’s your own family? Parents judging your parenting techniques “You shouldn’t be breastfeeding after 1 year. And when you do don’t do it in front of me.” Racist family members whose comments make you feel sick “I don’t care who you marry as long as they aren’t black.” Unhelpful opinions from cousins “Ooh you’ve put on a few pounds since I saw you last, you don’t want to keep going like that.” Pushy grandparents "Go on have a bit of meat with your dinner." It's frustrating, isn't it? Sometimes you can't cut these people out of your life… and sometimes you don’t want to. You love them and they love you but you clearly clash on beliefs (when I say beliefs I am talking life beliefs e.g. I believe there is more good in the world than bad rather than religious beliefs). It's hard when you feel like those you are close to aren't supportive of you. So what is the solution? (Side note: if you want to cut them out please do. You don’t have to have your family in your life if you don’t want to. Protect your peace) Focus more on the good than the bad. Yes Auntie Sally said something a little out of line but think of that lush big hug she gave you and the laughter you have been sharing all day. You don’t have to have the same beliefs as someone to have them in your life, though common beliefs certainly make life easier, and you don’t have to take on their shit. Have you ever felt in a fantastic mood, spent time with someone, then walked away feeling borderline depressed? There's a good chance you have taken on their energy as your own. When I did my yoga teacher training we talked a lot about energy, the way it makes us feel and ways you can protect your own. I know therapists who wear a certain scarf or necklace when they are with a client to "protect" themselves from the other persons energy. What this does is it reminds them not to take on the other persons feelings as their own when they are wearing it. During my Yoga training they taught us to literally brush the energy off you after giving a hands on adjustment to a student. Another way is Shaking. Shaking is a primal impulse to a stressful situation and animals naturally shake to release tension after a life-threatening event. So in the words of Taylor Swift "Shake it off!" and I mean laterally. As you leave, shake your whole body. Introverts listen up, this bits for you. Protect your energy! You know that socialising makes you tired and can be overwhelming. Plan ahead. Schedule in me time. Have a full day of socialising? Schedule in a day where you get to be alone. Or at least a few hours. Read a book, take a bath, whatever you do to recharge your batteries, do that. Schedule in the time else it won't happen. Don’t be afraid to say no. I know earlier I suggested "letting things go" so not to have confrontation but some times you have to stand up for yourself. If someone is breaching your boundaries you need to tell them. And remember… diet culture is BULLSHIT! You are not naughty for having a slice of cake on Christmas day. It's Christmas day for goodness sake go and enjoy it. And cherish all of those wonderful moments with your family and friends this Christmas period. And if you don't want to see anyone over Christmas, don't. It's literally just another day. Love your self!