What a time so full of light, of unity, dedicated to the family… in short, so happy for all these things… Or is it not?
The long-awaited Christmas dinner, the food on the table, all the people gathered together waiting for the moment to sit down and enjoy, not only the extensive menu but the company of others, the conversations, the sharing. So good!... But is everything really so good?
For many people, the entire month of December and the Christmas night itself are actually a sad, bitter, or just bittersweet time for the most varied reasons. People who may even see Christmas as a usually very happy time, but who, at the end of the big day, end up with a metallic taste in their mouths or discomfort they can't describe in words, or tension in the body and inexplicable tiredness (after all, was a whole day at home without working!). Are you one of them?
Perhaps you are in the habit of having to mentally prepare yourself for what you will find at Christmas dinner. Or who you will find. Perhaps you have to convince yourself that everything will be fine, that there is no inconvenience at a family dinner, that there is no point in feeling this anxiety. However, she is there and cannot shake off the uncomfortable feeling even as she tries to say to herself/the words of comfort.
What are these feelings and sensations due to? What will your body be trying to tell you?
The time has come. There is already some commotion around the house, some people busy setting the table, others around the stove, and there is noise, conversations, music created by the noise of cutlery and overlapping voices...
It's time to say hello to everyone. Two little kisses or three little kisses or a handshake or a hug? Or all the above options? Too late to think, you'll have to figure it out at the moment and here comes Uncle José…
(Insert your own name)! How are you? How long! You're fatter! What are you eating wherever you are? You have to take care of yourself more! Look, when you reach my age, you won't be like me. And what about work/school (cross out what doesn't matter)? Are you doing well? You should think more about your career! When are you buying a house? And you are also in a good age to get married and think about having children. Look, you'll regret it later when you realize you want to and it's too late, the body can't take it anymore. You know that… … … (endless suspension points that represent the endless monologue of the obnoxious relative corresponding to your case)
Note that this person can be only “obnoxious” because he/she is evolving a potentially hateful speech. What makes it difficult to identify these activating situations (in the sense that they create a strong emotional reaction) and understand them is precisely their gray character and not black and white.
Also, note that in the speech, the words or groups of words that indicate some obligation, rule, prediction of feeling, or idea of how life SHOULD be lived are marked in bold.
The problem is not that these ideas exist or even the fact that our family member wants you to follow what he/she thinks is best for us. The problem lies in any other ways of living life not being accepted or even openly talked about and shared. We do not talk about different ways of living love. Different types of families and different types of love too. Or even of how each person's timings for experiencing some “normal” life stages (normal because the majority follows them) may be different.
The problem is that you don't talk about these alternatives yourself. The problem arises when you respond according to what others want to hear. The problem is feeling confused, hypocritical, and guilty later on. And feel like you spent the night pretending.
In another possible scenario, perhaps your “obnoxious relative” speaks differently or doesn't even need to speak to cause you anxiety. Perhaps other words are a trigger for past memories, for situations of neglect, pain, psychological or physical violence. Maybe just the presence of a person, or even the environment of that house, or some particular object in sight can bring so many images to your head… And hurtful words.
If you are a “victim” of this scenario, you will probably need some form of therapy so that you can know what to expect, what to count on, and ACCEPT that this is just the way it is.
Discover and understand your CHRISTMAS TRIGGERS. With your expectations and those of your family aligned, you may enjoy a Christmas dinner and a very warm night together emotionally. :)