For most of us, Easter is a time to get together with family. This year, a wrench has been thrown into a lot of our plans. For some, that wrench has caused sadness and grief. For others, it has brought relief. I think now is a good time to re-evaluate familial obligations.
For most of us, family get togethers are not optional. They are obligatory. Fourth of July, Halloween (sometimes), Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Easter. More times than not, we pick these days to gather around the table for a meal. And if you are sad today because you can’t be with your family and it is something that you look forward to, I hope that you are able to find some sort of peace today and I hope you find a way to connect with the ones you love via a Facetime chat or a phone call or something. I hate that you are feeling low and I hate that you are missing your family today. And I am sending all the love your way.
If you fall into the other camp, where, for whatever reason…alcoholism, addiction, or other dysfunctional family dynamics….you are relieved that you get to stay home with whoever is in your house with you right now, your NOW family, and you don’t have the anxiety and dread that usually comes with the holidays, if you fall into that category, and trust me when I say, you are not alone in that feeling, remember how you feel right now.
While many people put a lot of stock in family, if being quarantined and not having to show up at a function that you dread makes you breathe a sigh of relief today, I hope that after the quarantine is over, that you are able to find the strength to continue to pass up on those family functions that don’t serve your mental and emotional health. As adults, we try to live up to this idea that we have to do “what’s right” or that you have to “show up” because it’s “family.” And I disagree.
Family is who you surround yourself with every day. Family is the person you call when you just need someone to listen and not give advice. Family is the person who brought you tissue and ice cream after a break up. Family is the group of people you surround yourself with even when it is not the holidays.
I know that missing out on “family” dinners is not the way to win the family popularity contest, but that’s the great thing about being an adult. You get to make choices and if, sometimes, those choices hurt other people’s feelings, but they improve your mental well being, then, by all means, make the tough choice to stop doing family get togethers.
Your mental health is way more important than someone’s feelings. I’m not saying you have to be a dick and tell them you aren’t coming because the thought of sitting in a room with your family makes you wish you were having your fingernails pulled out one by one instead, but you can politely decline the invitation. “Sorry, I wish I could, but I can’t make it.” “Sorry, I made other plans.” “Sorry, I booked a cruise (while thinking “because I’d rather risk getting COVID on a boat than spend five minutes with you people”). I hope I’m getting my point across.
Stop punishing yourself and putting yourself through unnecessary trauma just to avoid making people mad. If you are relieved that you get to be at home today alone or with your immediate family, hold on to that feeling and remember it the next time you feel obligated to show up.
You are the most important person in your life. And you always will be. If you are not OK, you can’t be good for anyone else.