Saturday, December 25, 2010

In which I don't follow my own unsolicited advice

Confession time… The unsolicited holiday advice that I issued in this sub-par post got thrown out the window the day after I wrote it. My patience evaporated. My kindness turned into silence. My love was still there for certain family members, but I started to crave my normal cushion of 1700 miles… I feel bad for needing my distance.  

 My family and I must have all been on our best behavior with each other over Thanksgiving.  We got reacquainted. We got comfortable again… This Christmas trip familiarity has bred bravery. In true family tradition this vacation has been full of passive aggressive comments, refusal to share real feels and thoughts and a lot of feeling alone while surrounded by people that I love. This is not really different from almost any other family right?! This is the stuff that holiday movies are made out of.

The comments of a few family members seemed designed to induce guilt and remind me of my testimony which is surely buried down deep in my heart somewhere. I can take a lot. I did not even feel bad about the comments for the first few days of the trip but it is the repetition. Its that the comments keep coming. At some point the comments started to bring out my emotions… I have been really good about not showing my hurt, anger, frustration, annoyance and even some pity. I hate these feelings. I don’t think these feelings are helpful to relationships but nonetheless they have been there.

The change in décor of the family room should have been a predictor… When I walked in the first night, proudly displayed on the mantel was a new picture of me. Actually, not a new picture… A mission picture. Right in the middle of the mantel... It has been over five years since I returned. At no point either during my mission or after my mission were mission pictures displayed. We are not one of those families that cover their walls with family pictures. In fact we have almost NO family photos up at all. I found it strange to see this new addition to the mantel but tried not to think much of it.

I know that the comments, the mission picture, and other things are said and done out of love and concern for me. I really do believe that is at the heart of family members’ motives, but it does not take away the bad feelings or tension that these things cause.

I write these sorts of posts and I hate the way they make family members look… I love my family. They are incredible people but the need to vent is just sooo vital sometimes. In some ways blogging to vent instead of attempting again to talk things out is a passive aggressive act in and of itself… ARRRGGGHHHH. I wish I were a better person. I wish I did not care what they said or thought. I wish that I were secure enough in “me” that their comments did not threaten to swallow me.

I have learned from this… Next year I will come home JUST for Christmas and not both holidays. 


  1. I'm sorry things have been so bad. :( Sometimes family members just try to hard to change things, when love is really all that is needed. I don't know if we'll ever escape it, but don't feel guilty about venting and blogging and getting it all out. Bottling things up is what makes a person crazy.

    Good luck with the rest of the holiday!

  2. Kiley- Im sorry to say that I know 100% what you are feeling! One, I can only take a few days of my family until I just wanna start ripping some heads off.
    Two, There are always the comments of "Oh you'll make a great husband and father one day," when they know full well Im not going to marry a girl and I don't want kids.
    Three, I always hate the way my family comes off in my blog too, because like you, I know they do it out of love only, and not to be rude or mean, but they don't know that they are being pushy and making me frustrated with them.

    Im sorry you have to go through this. I am also thinking about cutting back on my family visits, and wish I could have a few more hundred miles of cushion as an excuse not to come home for every little event!

  3. I have to thank you because it was your blog that led me to the UU church and one of my favorite parts of spending this last Christmas Eve with my family was getting to tell them that I had just come from my Unitarian church and how much I LOOOVE IT. It was awesome. Yeah, my family does the same annoying and stupid stuff. I like what you said about how they are sure that you have a testimony still buried somewhere. Nope. That sucker is GONE. I wish they could comprehend that people leave their church because they find out how UNtrue it actually is. It's frustrating. I feel ya!

  4. I've gone through this. Don't beat yourself up too much for feeling "not perfect" in your reactions to the pressure and guilt trips that are staged.

    Be true to thine self!

  5. Thank you Ty! I like that you brought up the immortal idea of John Lennon - "All you need is love." It is pretty true though everyone seems to want to complicate things.

    @Trevor - Thanks Trevor. These sorts of family issues are so normal. If it weren't comments about the church and getting married it would be comments about something else right? (Sometimes I know they do what they do to be pushy on purpose but it is not a "bad" thing...)

    @Becky - Wow! I am a UU missionary! I love the UUs. That is awesome.

    @Libellule - You hit my problem right on the head. "Not perfect" reaction... Thank you.

  6. It's a tough season, Kiley. I agree, don't beat yourself. You try to keep the fact that they are coming from a place of love in perspective, but still... Peace be with you.

    Have a wonderful New Year.

  7. You said: I wish I did not care what they said or thought. I wish that I were secure enough in “me” that their comments did not threaten to swallow me.

    I wonder, though, if this will ever happen. These are our family ... I think even the healthiest of us get cut to the core with family comments at times. Some inner thing just can't help it, I think.

    Maybe I'm just far from "the healthiest of us."

  8. Don't feel bad about this type of post. I feel that you are really gracious about your family, and in your posts you always balance your frustrations with your love for them. I'm really sorry that things weren't great for you over the holiday.

  9. Live and learn, eventually they'll figure out which buttons not to push as much as you'll know which areas are and not important enough to fight about, it was a rocky road when I first left he church and would hear the same things from my parents and some siblings, but I think (I'd like to think) that we've learned to know where we all stand.

    Sorry it was stressful for you, wish I/we could have been there for you in a more direct way, a text, a call. Hang in there, it gets better! :-)

  10. hug. sorry it wasn't what you hoped.

  11. @Thank God I'm an Aetheist - I really love that it is every family. :)

    @Steph - I worked on improving my attitude since posting this post. It really is because they love me. Reminding myself to see things from their perspective is always helpful... Happy New Year to you too!!!

    @Kim - You are right. People close to us are always going to have power to hurt us. (AND Kim you seem to one of the healthiest most level headed people I have met... Well, met on the internet anyway! )

    @Michelle - I am glad everyone does not hate them! I am glad that my love is clear. The trip was not all bad! I wrote when I was pretty frustrated... Happy New Year!!!

    @Miguel - Thank you for your advice. They do need more time. While I have not been active for 2 1/2 years my disbelief is still rather new to them... I am not sure why I did not think of calling you! This summer when I come back with my car and actually get around we need to hang out!

    @Becca - Thank you!

  12. Ditto to Public Loneliness - it gets better. It's been 8 years for me, now, and the family time has basically become normal. Hang in there! (and next time, bring a flask!!) :)

  13. Really Michelle, that is great advice. It would have come in handy.


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