Monday, December 10, 2012

Blargh. Holidays.

Typically, I'm not as Scrooge-y as this post title would suggest. I love me a plate of Christmas cookies as much as the next gal, preferably consumed in a spruce-y smelling home filled with beatific loved ones.

Okay, so I've got the cookies. The beatific loved ones? Not so much. Then again, apart from Madison Avenue's Christmas ads, who actually does? Given that I'm fully aware of my family's lack of basic functionality, Hallmark holidays aren't something I've ever actually expected. What has taken me by surprise this holiday season, as I work through the emotional detritus of being raised by a hoarder mother and a absentee-ish father, is how sadness about that has bubbled to the surface.

If you haven't been following along on my internal journey, allow me to recap: I grew up with an emotionally abusive, mentally ill hoarder mother. (I almost typed "I was raised by" until I realized that, as I spent most of my childhood parenting my mother, it would be more accurate to say I raised her.) My angry father avoided the chaos of home by spending the majority of my waking hours at work. I've popped in and out of therapy over the last decade. This is largely spurred by my tendency to crash in and out of wildly unhealthy relationships that, when examined later, make me feel dumber than toast. Given that I'm not actually dumber than toast (or any other breakfast food, for that matter), after the latest unspeakably spectacular implosion of my personal life, I decided I should probably buckle down and figure my shit out.

And so, here I am. I've never been especially into blaming my parents for my mistakes. I'm sure this is largely due to growing up with a mother who blamed everyone but herself for her mistakes, but I have a larger-than-average bent toward personal responsibility. (Occasionally, this means I take responsibility for other people's lives, too, but that's another post. And more fodder for the therapist's couch.) I'm a grown-ass woman, for god's sake, and I'm the one making my choices.

Except I'm realizing more and more that, while I am making my own choices, they are profoundly impacted by (wait for it!) my mother. (That will come as no surprise to you. For me, on the other hand, it's like a most unpleasant excavation of my internal workings, fraught with repeated realizations of how much the messages she gave while growing up have affected my adult life.) Hence my current attitude toward the holidays. This season is often difficult, but this year, I have the added layer of a wash of hostility toward and complete lack of desire to spend any time with my mother. My solution thus far is to not visit for the holidays. That, plus lots of deep breathing, self-medicating chocolate consumption, therapy, and running seem like they'll get me through January 2nd and out the other side of the holiday season. Until next year, anyway.


  1. You have an opportunity here to let go of your past and start filling your life with people who deserve to be there. Maybe cutting the toxic relationship you have with your Mom is exactly the kind of gift to give yourself this year. You can still have a Hallmark doesn't mean you have to include the people you happen to be related to.

    I know it's more than difficult to deal with all the emotions the holidays bring even when there aren't hostile fathers and delusional mothers involved. Good luck to you to find a balance that allows you to enjoy the holidays in your own way. :)

  2. your mother sounds almost EXACTLY like mine, and to be frank it feels dishonest to call her my "mother."

    THE BEST Christmas I ever had was 7 years ago when five months previously I called her and told her our relationship was over and why.

    People who are lucky enough to have never been in a toxic relationship don't understand this, they never will, and I'm glad for them.

    The only way to escape a narcissist (she sure walks, smells, and talks like one) is to remove them from your life.

    You're worth it, and better.