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Skipping Christmas

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Rainbows posted 12/10/2013 01:09 AM

My family usually does a big thing for Christmas and New Years. Every year we congregate at my parents ski house for a week of hanging out together (with spouses, nieces, nephews).

I told everyone I have to work this year, which is true. At my last job we would take off the last 3 weeks of the year, but I don't have that luxury anymore.

My boss would gladly let me take a long weekend to spend time with my family, but I'm still not ready to face all of them while trapped in a house. I don't want to answer questions or hear how they just knew he was an abusive asshole. I can only handle Ex bashing in small amounts.

There's the other side of me that thinks I'm being super selfish and will most likely spend Christmas Day alone with my dogs (or catching a movie). I decided to move apartments next week, so I'll also be busy moving and settling in.

I'm already getting sad looks from friends who know I'm not traveling.

Does anyone have any thoughts or feedback on the best way to walk through this one. I've gotten such incredible advice here for navigating through the social awkwardness of going through an S.

justjim posted 12/10/2013 04:27 AM

I don't know, but I will be lurking here to see what advice follows.

We always spent the holidays with her family. Got to figure out what to do now. Working on Christmas Day is not an option.

I'm thinking SI will probably be a pretty busy place on Christmas.

TheRealDeal posted 12/10/2013 06:36 AM

I understand the mixed feelings you have Rainbows...I had the same ones over Thanksgiving and will have them again for Christmas

Since I've started IC in June, IC has been saying to me that I need to practice self-care. I do not owe anyone a detailed-explanation if the decision is right for *me* and I am okay with my decision. If other people react negatively, that is their feeling that they need to address. It's not up to me to make decisions simply to please other people.

Ultimately I made the decision not to travel to sisters house (4 hours away)for T-day even though my parents were flying into town for many of the same reasons you listed. I kept the explanation short and sweet; I would not be able to make it for Thanksgiving but they were welcome to come visit me if they gave me advance notice.

they weren't happy and tried many forms of guilt to "make me" travel there but I didn't get sucked in this time. And true to form they never considered visiting me because "its soooo far"

So I had a quiet Thanksgiving by myself and 2 cats. And less stress

I guess what I'm trying to say is "do what YOU feel is right for YOU".
If people give you a guilt trip or the sad-shaking-heads or the frowny-face because you aren't accepting their offer, that is a feeling they need to come to terms with, not you. Trying to make other people happy by accepting their invitation, when you don't really want to, will make them happy but make you miserable. Put yourself first.

So if Christmas winds up being you and your fur-babies, while setting up a new apartment, and to YOU that sounds heavenly, then that is what you should do. Putting your needs first in these types of situations is a priority; that is not selfish, that is self-care.

h0peless posted 12/10/2013 06:56 AM

I skipped Christmas last year. The first one was really tough. This year, I'm right back in the swing of things.

Do what you need to do but make sure you're taking steps to get better. Don't let your ex take everything from you.

WeepingBuddhist posted 12/10/2013 07:05 AM

Skipping Christmas sounds great to me...the thought of being trapped in a house with a ton of relatives would be my idea of hell most years. this year, I doubt there is enough alcohol to get me through an hour of that! Listen to yourself and do what will help you the most and give you the most pleasure.

Rainbows posted 12/10/2013 07:31 AM

Thank you so much for the replies. I needed some validation that it's ok to skip, since that's what I really want to do. I feel a major weight lifted.

My family has been upping the pressure and guilt, probably stemming from their own guilt of being together while I'm alone.

Based on phone calls, I can already he would to be the only topic of conversation. Oh, and maybe how I look like I'm dealing with it. There really isn't enough alcohol to deal with that and the accompanying sad looks. It's amazing how many sad faces people can make.

Besides, I just want to look forward and not focus on the pain.

cdagal posted 12/10/2013 07:49 AM

One thing you may want to consider that I've put in place for the last three years.....My entire family is about 6-7 hours away so I always would travel - the XH rarely accompanied but the kids and I would make the annual trek over the holidays.
I'm on my way down this weekend for 5 days - will be able to see the whole family all in one place without having the extra stress of "the day".We'll get together on Sunday and have a family brunch and get caught up.
Then I'll spend Christmas day at home with the kids - they can do their thing, I'll do mine and my family got to see me earlier in December.

Rainbows posted 12/10/2013 08:03 AM

That's a good idea. There would certainly be less pressure.

Although I doubt it'll prevent my oldest brother (in the military) from telling me to stop being a soft target (huh?) and my mom from saying I always knew that guy wasn't good for you.

I could also go after New Year's and say he's on my list of banned subjects for 2014.

Interesting, my Ex rarely came, as well.

Pass posted 12/10/2013 08:15 AM

I could also go after New Year's and say he's on my list of banned subjects for 2014.

If you were to say this, would they listen? I've never really enjoyed hanging with my family, but they have totally come to the rescue during this whole episode for me. They're not used to me saying topics are off-limits, so lately when I've stepped up and said, "We've talked about that enough", they've actually listened.

I've never had the confidence to shut them down before, but have decided that this next little while is about me. When conversations get tiresome, triggery, whatever, I just let them know.

Does this sound like something you could do, and that they would honour? If so, then you might be able to have a perfectly enjoyable time with them - getting the support (and the distraction) you may need. If not, then you're doing the right thing by skipping.

ETA: And if your military brother starts getting on you about being a "soft target" (what'n hell does that even mean?), I bet the rest of your family would think you're totally within your rights to tell him to rub salt up his arse.

[This message edited by pass at 8:17 AM, December 10th (Tuesday)]

sparkysable posted 12/10/2013 08:26 AM

I think you should go, at least for a little bit. I don't think you should be alone. You know how your mind plays with you when you're alone. I say keep active, busy, and surround yourself with people who love you.

need_hope posted 12/10/2013 10:08 AM


It's a tough decision, isn't it? Only you can determine what is best for you in your situation. If you - in previous years - would normally DREAD the week spent with the family, then I would say to definitely skip it this year. There is nothing wrong with choosing to spend a holiday alone.

If, however, you normally look forward to it and enjoy it, you may want to consider going.

If it were me, I would call or send an email to all appropriate family members telling them that your Ex is not to be a topic of conversation - that you don't want to discuss him, how you have handled or are handling any aspect of this or any other variation on that theme. Tell them that you want to enjoy the holiday with them but it is NOT enjoyable for you to deal with the bashing and Monday-morning-quarterbacking that is going on. Tell them that if you want to discuss the issue that YOU will initiate the conversation. And be prepared to leave if they don't respect your boundaries.

Good Luck!

Rainbows posted 12/10/2013 12:04 PM

This is why I love SI so much. I learn new and grow with every post I read. I appreciate the feedback so much!

In my idealized mind, they would surely respect my boundaries. In reality, I know some of them will try to stealthily back into the subject. I'm a middle child and have never really shut any of them down, either. It's easier to acquiesce since my family has a lot of strong personalities (maybe that's why I'm the soft target? ).

I know they love and care about me, but I'm the only one of my siblings dealing with a D and A, my parents still flirt and grab at each other (super awkward, but getting cuter as I get older). With the exception of my dad, they don't really get it.

I agree being alone with my thoughts could lead to a spin, but worry about being so darn hyper-sensitive right now.

k94ever posted 12/10/2013 15:32 PM

Christmas #1. No tree, no decorations. Transformers movie marathon.

Christmas #2. Small tree, some decorations. "Leverage" marathon.

Christmas #3 (this Christmas). No tree (I'm fostering a doggie and don't need the stress of him possibly peeing on it) and I'm OK with that. No decorations. Doing the Marvel movies marathon.

Do what YOU want to do. Don't be pressured into doing the "Norman Rockwell" family gathering if you don't want to.


Lostandpregnant posted 12/10/2013 15:37 PM

You get to do whatever you want to do, and screw the guilt and everything else.

Take care of you this year.

Gemini71 posted 12/10/2013 21:34 PM

If you're not ready to hear all the X-bashing, then you're not ready for it. I was so pissed off at my sisters for their X-bashing when this all first happened. Now I'm more ready to accept the anger that others have on my behalf because I'm more aware of my own anger. If you're not ready to face the family, then don't. Wait until you are ready. Then maybe XH won't have to be on the 'no-talk' list.

Rainbows posted 12/11/2013 08:40 AM

It never occurred to me that it's my anger triggering me when there's Ex bashing. I'm going to look at that.

I think what frustrates me about my family sometimes is their need to keep circling back to the subject. I'm ok discussing something once or twice, but over and over makes me bonkers and of course everyone is always right. I always say, right in their own way and from their own perspective.

I've had my Christmas boxes sitting in my living room with no desire to open them. The Ex used to surprise me with a tree and I used to decorate the whole house. Makes me sad when I look at that stuff and all I think is how much he loved it.

Probably going to que up some of my bucket list on Netflix and lay low. Maybe bake some cookies.

Thank you everyone.

NotFixable posted 12/11/2013 20:35 PM

I skipped Thanksgiving with the family and am planning to skip Christmas as well. I want to spend that time alone with my daughter. My dad called today to try to pressure me to commit to coming for Christmas and I finally got him leave me alone about it by saying we'll see closer to that time. I know my family means well. They think it will be good for me to be around people who care. My emotions aren't stable enough to be trapped in that house 2 hours away from my home. I'm still bouncing all over the place. I spent the 1st 3 hours of today crying uncontrollably. I've been ok this evening, but the closer I get to facing my empty bed, I can feel the suffocating panic beginning to set in. Those who haven't been through this can't possibly understand!

PurpleBirch posted 12/11/2013 20:42 PM

ETA: And if your military brother starts getting on you about being a "soft target" (what'n hell does that even mean?), I bet the rest of your family would think you're totally within your rights to tell him to rub salt up his arse.

Oh pass... I love your turn of phrase. I must use that line.

Rainbows posted 12/12/2013 01:51 AM

I'm also keeping pass's comeback too. It's such a good one for many occasions.

It really is tough to be on the roller coaster with the added holiday pressure. I felt I was making good progress, but am really being triggered by the smallest stuff.

This holiday season is making me feel like a kid on a long road trip. Are we there yet? Are we there yet? January 2, 2014 can't seem to come soon enough for me.

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