Feeling angry and frustrated a lot? Annoyed that people aren't living up to their end of the deal? Most of the time, there is a fairly logical explaination for this. You are expecting too much. Of others and of yourself. This is what happens when Reality and Expectations collide.
I know two kinds of people around this time of year. The ones that can't wait to see their family and loved ones and build more memories, and the ones that are already feeling panic and dread, even though, as I write this, it is not even Halloween.
The first kind really seems to like their family. They accept each other, flaws and all, and are pretty closely knit. If there is alcoholism or mental illness, it is actively addressed and the family supports recovery.
The second, plays a strategic game of survival. Being closely knit comes from obligation rather than genuine interest and acceptance of one another. There are expectations and rules to be followed. There are roles to play and formalities to contend with. Alcoholism and/or mental illness is minimized, ignored, or stigmatized.
I will be honest. I know a lot more about the second type of family than I do the first. And I also know how to approach the holidays (and every other day of the year) so that you can finally maintain your integrity and self-worth, while loving your family.
Cindy Goeller is a licensed therapist who loves listening to others, eating Maryland steamed crabs, and exploring the Finger Lakes of New York. When she is not in session with her clients, she can be found writing, baking, or spending time with her family.