When Self-Care is Not Going Home for the Holidays
Ally Niemiec

My mother is 93 and is more narcissistic and deluded (politcal and and extremist Christian) than ever. My two brothers (the ‘good’ brother died, go figure!) are gun nuts, whacko republicans. My two sisters, the youngest two of six with me as the oldest girls) are overwhelmed and live stressed, difficult lives.

For years I went to “mom’s” Christmas gathering and thought, “I need to show up.” I watched the “boys’ hold my brother upside down and taunt him. I kept silent when they said the most despicable things. I listened to “She Who Must Be Obeyed” tell me “you wouldn’t be so depressed if only you believed in god.”

I never want to see my mother again. I may not even go to her memorial service. I don’t care to be in relationship with oldest brother (abusive to me) or have much connection to younger brother (abusive to younger sisters — kicking them while they watched cartoons, jabbing them, put downs). Sister are still enmeshed — a bit. I’m out. I’m done. They are not my family.

My family is my “family of choice”, my husband of 52 years, whom I take care of since he has Parkinson’s disease. He has been unfailingly kind and supportive of me. Without him, I would have failed at life and instead I got an education, grew up, got therapy (17 years) and found my niche. I know what I know and No One can take that away from me. That ‘wisdom’ was too hard won and for too long it was too tenuous, but now I’m healed and I know I won’t go back to an earlier, scared and scarred self.

I imagine you are much younger than I am. I wish you a good life even though you, like millions of us, grew up in a hurtful, horrid family. Don’t let anyone shame or belittle you for your choices. Never give up. You will find your own unique path. And it may surprise you what joy awaits you, next year, 10 years, or more. It will happen.

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