“Every year I seriously consider throwing myself in front of a bus so that I have an excuse not to go to the dinner. It’s horrible and I dread going.”
I read this comment today on a womxn’s Facebook post as I was scrolling through.
At least a dozen people had chimed in agreeing that they feel the same way when it comes to holiday time with family.
My heart hurt for that womxn and all of those who chimed in. And for all the amazing, successful, and brilliant womxn I have worked with over the years who feel the same way around spending time with their larger family when the holidays come around.
As a person who has had to distance herself from many dynamics in her own family for the sake of my own emotional health, I get it. I really do. The last 10 years for me in this area have been a continuous process of unraveling what is mine… and what is not for me to hold for another.
But the reason I hurt for you is that putting yourself around family energies that drain you, hurt you, or throw you off for weeks after (or energies that literally make you physically ill) stops your mission on this earth.
It creates resistance, delays, unnecessary existential crises. You’ll walk into a family dinner with your new vision in place, confident, and blazing your path forward… and you walk out defeated, doubting yourself and everything.
This won’t do. You’ve got a world to change. You’re here for big things. A greater mission that is sacred. To be thrown off for weeks after one family gathering is unacceptable. It delays your impact and can have long-lasting effects on your ability to leave the legacy you’re here to create.
So here is what I want to say to you:
You are a grown ass adult womxn.
Your boundaries matter.
They are not ridiculous, “overly rigid”, annoying, or things to be ignored.
They are things to be honored. And any person who truly wishes your well being will agree with that, and be happy to get to know and honor your personal boundaries.
You have a right to internal peace.
You have a right to feel safe within your being AND in your external environment.
You have a right to feel loved, celebrated, and cared for.
You don’t “have” to go anywhere where you don’t feel loved and respected.
Not for your kids, your partner, or for any other of the reasons you tell yourself you have to endure those circumstances. There is no excuse for enduring abuse.
You are worthy enough to uphold those boundaries and to take care of yourself by NOT putting yourself around energies, people and environments that are destructive to your inner equanimity.
You are worthy enough of loving yourself so deeply that you refuse to expose yourself to anything that harms or slows your sacred mission down.
And you are worthy enough of holding steadfast to those boundaries.
Will people criticize, freak out, or give you shit for not showing up to a place that feels unhealthy for you? Sure.
But those are always people who are steeped in those toxic dynamics themselves and don’t want to be woken up out of that unhealthy dream. Do you really want to take advice from them, then? Should you really take the words of the indoctrinated into your heart and allow them to make you doubt your right to no abuse?
Sometimes we have to be willing to let shit blow up for the sake of loving ourselves, our mission, and the people around us enough to say NO to all that harms us.
Sometimes letting shit blow up is the greatest gift we can give to those who keep expecting you to help them hold the fucked up illusion together.
Anything that harms you should be UNACCEPTABLE to every part of your being.
Sometimes we have to be courageous enough to show up as the kind of leader we want to be — a womxn with strong boundaries and a great love for her self. There are too few models for that in the world and we sorely need those models. Be brave and embody that.
If you truly do HAVE to be there…
(and in most cases, you really, really don’t — create your own thing. Take the day off to journal and take care of yourself in the middle of your usually super busy schedule. Create a private retreat for yourself, your partner, and/or your kids to build more intimacy. Create the Thanksgiving/holiday dinner you always wanted, instead. Fly yourself to Santorini on a whim as a gift to yourself.)
Then be clear about the boundaries you will have going in.
I know in some cases you will go because there are people you really love and want to see, but that also means sometimes having to be around people who are toxic for you.
So be clear about what your boundaries will be with those people.
Avoid sitting next to them. Or ask your hostess to seat you elsewhere (and if she gives you shit — that is not a person who cares about your comfort, so why should you let their reaction affect you? And why are you there anyway then?).
Plan to stay a maximum of one hour and then leave (one hour of toxic jabs is better than 4 hours of being exposed to that).
Don’t stay overnight in the home of someone who will take the opportunity to nitpick you every chance they get. Spend money on the hotel room where you get pampered. Or book a rental where you can have your own safe space to return to, often. Considering that you are an asset to your legacy — you are an investment always worth making.
Don’t share your most heartfelt desires with people who are waiting to stomp on them.
Keep them to yourself. Treat them like precious jewels that can only be seen by select eyes.
Make it a point to pull the people you want to be around, aside.
Engage them in a meaningful 1:1 chat, away from those who don’t wish you well.
Ask your partner to back you up.
And have enough love for yourself to tell someone, “that is not okay with me that you said that. And if you continue to say things like this, I am warning you that the next time it will affect our relationship negatively.”
Then walk away. You do NOT have to hold space for their tantrum, their meltdown, or their reaction. You said what you said. End of discussion.
But if you can avoid it — don’t walk into a lion’s den to be devoured.
Would you do that to a child? No?
Then don’t do it to yourself.
The first Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays I spent by myself were liberating. I thought I would feel sorry for myself or sad. But those are just stories. I could choose a more empowering story to play in my head on that day.
To my delight, I woke up to a beautiful silence. I walked outside with my tea and looked over the ocean lit up like a universe of stars as the sun came over the mountain to greet the day.
I took a deep breath and I felt the love that exudes from the trees and animals around me. The crispness in the air. The scent of pine cones and salt from the sea. It was all so delicious. Still. Beautiful.
I wrapped myself up in a blanket and sat there, with a big smile on my face. Calling loved ones I feel nourished by. Nourishing myself.
You are worth it. You are worthy of great love. Of all of the things you desire.
You are never, ever alone. Even the bees love to study you every time they fly by.
And you are the guardian of your sacred purpose and mission on this earth.
It’s your job and your job alone to guard your capacity for your mission like your life depends on it. Because your life does depend on it. That’s what you came here to DO.
So, your capacity to HOLD what you do and GROW is the most important priority. And that capacity can’t grow to hold bigger and bigger things if you are constantly getting the air sucked out of you with toxic family drama.
Consider this your permission slip, your key to get out of the jail you’ve locked yourself in.
Step out and be free.
P.S: Did this resonate with you? If so, let me know in the comments below.