321 thoughts on “Open Thread: Holiday Blues

  1. I’m a little bummed that I can’t make it back home for the holidays due to caregiving duties. We’re down to one person we’ve hired to cook and clean, which means I can’t go out of state. Theoretically she could work more and cover all shifts. She’d be happy to do it. If she got sick, got into an accident, or had a family emergency, however, nobody would be here to feed my boyfriend.

    It’s not as big a deal as it could be. I haven’t held any religious beliefs in a very long time, so it’s not like I feel I should be there *right now*. It’s just another reminder that my life is a lot more constrained by somebody else’s needs than I’d like it to be.

    1. I can relate.

      My partner has a chest infection and due to his chronic disabilities, it’s hit our plans hard. I am not much for celebrating but we had some fun stuff planned together. If I had a crystal ball and could have predicted this Christmas would be pretty much cancelled, I’d have kicked back with a book and a pot of tea a month ago.

      As it is, it’s been non stop cooking, cleaning, dogwalking and caring. I love him so much but eh, so tired.

      1. Argh, that sucks. Thwarted plans hurts more than the plans you know aren’t going to happen.

  2. I’ve got a really good friend of mine who got hit with a major family crisis involving one of her ex-husbands and dealing with asshole family members yesterday, so I’m trying to be supportive of her while battling my own wave of seasonal depression and my own toxic family flashbacks.

    1. Ah, toxic family flashbacks, what a perfect way to put it. I spent much of Christmas day trying to assist a friend who was experiencing a holiday much like those my mother used to endure. Don’t know that I had that much more success, although her last fbk post implied that the asshole husband cleaned up his act enough for the kids. I spent the evening with netflix, including a large dose of these lovely Norwegian ladies spinning and knitting. Miss my mother, but not the rest of them.

        1. I don’t know about movies, but there are youtube tutorials for patterns and pbs television shows. It’s just so relaxing to watch someone knit.

        2. Netflix: slow tv: national knitting evening, 4h of knitting fun, followed by the night, 6.5h of attempting to break the world record of shearing a sheep (Guri) spinning her wool and knitting a man’s sweater. I highly recommend them 😀

  3. I found out yesterday that I get to spend Christmas day in my childhood home dodging my dad. Last night I had an exceptionally nasty dream about him. UGH. I feel gross and very unhappy.

    I think I’ll go for several long walks tomorrow. And “have” to make a store run for forgotten ingredients for cooking that “has” to happen. And any other excuse I can think up.

    Good luck to all of you. May there be some quiet and peaceful times mixed in with all the rest.

  4. I didn’t know until this year how much I relied on the cues of working retail to feel like this is a holiday, or how useful the constant practice of being kind to strangers was to me. First Christmas post-divorce and my ex is picking me up in an hour, and I have to find some holiday spirit for my kid, but…Ugh. I just want to go back to bed.

  5. My husband is sulking about being tired and needing to rest and how Christmas is so much work.

    Meanwhile, I’ve done 9/10ths of the work and planning, while 8 months pregnant and with a full-time job.

    I’m contemplating a hotel for the rest of the week. Bugger this.

    1. Ros,

      I feel you.

      –Owner of 1 awesome 4 month old human and 1 ofttimes useless husband with incredibly low standards of cleanliness and organization & excellence (or acceptability) even who wishes to be praised for completing the bare minimum of tasks under constant supervision…

      It doesn’t help that I know he (at least in part,) can’t help it, partly, because of his brain and family-of-origin experiences.

    2. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew. Right?! I find the expectations of gift giving to be so frustrating. I hated for years how I had to come up for gifts for everybody, yet my dad and bro never did. You are a beautiful person and a fucking saint. Please find a moment for yourself, because you so seriously deserve it!

      1. Fifthing the hotel option. Get it, get room service and as much pampering, sleep and you-time as you can cram in without over exerting yourself (with the pamper). You’ll be glad you did later on 🙂

  6. My son just came from his first semester of college with two Fs, a C and a D. This after flunking two college prep classes his senior year of high school that we made him retake before we agreed to send him to college. We told him this was his last chance. For some reason he forgot about that and was under the impression that we are wealthy enough to pay another $10,000 next semester to watch him get sub-standard grades. Nope. So now we had to tell him he is on his own financially to pay for college if he wants to continue, and he’s decided he’s going to work for awhile. It’s certainly changed our holidays. Thought we’d be celebrating that we have finally got him on the road to a degree, and instead he’s gone off the rails again.

    1. Lindsey, I’ve been there with a son who crashed and burned over the course of 3 utterly wasted (financially speaking) semesters of college. Like you, his dad & I did all we could to get him ready for the college experience he insisted he had to have right then and there. I actually urged him to take a gap year and work, volunteer or travel, but he couldn’t see past all his friends going off to school. There was a lot more difficult stuff in the story, which I won’t go into right now.

      However, I do want you to know that he just turned 22 yesterday, has been living with his dad, and after a few false starts, has begun to actually appreciate working and is now getting a lot of tangible, positive feedback from his boss (multiple raises, increased responsibility). He’s re-started the college application process and told me recently that he’s realized that to do well in school he needs to apply the same effort that he does at work. I still don’t know if he’s truly ready to do that, but I do know he is MUCH more prepared than he was at 18.

      This is a long way of saying, I’m so sorry things haven’t worked out as you hoped, but they may very well still, just in a different way. The good thing about being in that difficult young-adult phase is that ANY experience, good or bad, successful or unsuccessful, teaches you something, or starts you on the road to learning. I hope all of you are able to have a happy holiday in spite of this.

    2. I hear you. I finally got fed up with my son, (who turned 25 just 6 days ago,) and sent him off to stay with his unemployed dad about two months ago.

      I’ve heard nothing since. My fortnightly suggestions of a meal out are refused, and I know I’ll hear nothing from him over the Christmas period.

      He spent the last 8 years living with me failing school, then college, then working at part time and temporary jobs, all of which let him go because he just would not apply himself. It’s all apparently my fault.

      So I’ve spent the last 25 years of my life nurturing him, working to provide him with a good start in life, while his weekend dad didn’t bother with things like jobs and a good education, yet turns out to be the good guy, while I’m the villain.

      So good luck son, I’ll deal with your ignoring me and live with your loss this Christmas, and then spend the next 25 years spending the inheritance I’ve so carefully built up for you and which you say you don’t care about.

      I’m broken hearted, I had such hopes for my beautiful boy.

      1. Di, I am so with you on spending their inheritance. This year we cut a son and his two children out of our will. We also stopped contributing to college savings accounts. When you can’t get an adult to acknowledge your existence, why should you keep dishing out the gravy? It’s painful, very painful, and some people tell me they don’t agree with our actions. But then again they aren’t standing in my shoes, especially during holiday season.

        1. My brother and I keep encouraging my mother to “spend our inheritance”–that is, to spend her money on what she needs or wants now, rather than saving it for what we might want in the future.

          All I would advise is that you try to enjoy spending the money: don’t think about it being their inheritance, but about how much you’re going to enjoy that vacation trip, or a new bed, or get the winter coat you really want rather than the good-enough one you could have gotten for less.

        2. Seconding not to feel guilty about spending their ‘inheritance’. It’s only an inheritance when you’re dead, and leave it to them in your will. Until then, it’s your money, that you worked hard for, and you should be able to spend it as you please.

          If people don’t agree with your actions, then they can support the kid themselves and see how it feels to to get no gratitude.

        3. I agree with prioritizing your own needs when it comes to your own money. I’m a little confused, though, over cutting children out of your will — how is it their fault, whatever it is?

      2. I wish my parents would spend the money they’ve saved all their lives. They worked hard, physically demanding jobs and scrimped and saved so that we could have a better life. Now they’re old, and they still save a portion of their Social Security and pensions each month, for what? Middle Child and I are fine financially, and Oldest Child could win the lotto tomorrow and still be broke in a year.

        As far as I’m concerned, they should spend that money swing dancing in Ibiza when they’re 98, but the habits of a lifetime are hard to break.

    3. If it’s any help, someone close to me struggled for what felt like a really long time (it was actually only until their mid 20s but it probably felt like forever to their parents) but eventually figured out what worked for them and now they have a career they really love that pays well too and a great partner (they’re getting married next year!), and generally all the financial & social stability and personal fulfilment parents want for their kids.

      1. This. A friend’s son quit college after the first couple of weeks and went back to his job delivering pizzas. But he had a plan, and it finally came to fruition: He was taken on as an apprentice with the plumbers and pipefitters. Fast-forward a couple of years and after busting his butt in some pretty awful working conditions (read: outdoors in Alaska), the kid’s now a journeyman and making gobs of money. In fact, he bought a house recently and has some co-workers renting rooms from him.

        He’s 22, and he likes the work (mostly working on power plants and hospitals) because he can look at it as something he did that made a difference and will last. Although he’d never been bookish — in fact, he doesn’t read for pleasure — he’s plenty canny. For him, it was an answer. Your own kid’s mileage may vary. I wish your family all kinds of luck.

      2. I suggested that – plumbing, plastering, mechanics, I even offered him free software development courses that I get with my job, but he wasn’t interested in any of them.

        All he wanted to do was stay up all night playing video games, and then sleep all day. And verbally abuse me whenever I gently suggested getting a good night’s sleep might help his mood and motivation, or asked him to keep his bedroom or bathroom clean.

        One up side to all this is that I had a Christmas day free from abuse, unlike last year, where he ranted at me for a full three hours over my perceived failings as a mother.

        1. Your sons situation sounds a lot like what I was going trough for a long period of my life before my depression was diagnosed. I’d like to offer you a simple solution that you could use to reach your son but I have none and from my experience, I’ve banged my head on that wall plenty XD, you can’t force someone to seek help. What I can offer you is hope that you haven’t permanently lost your son.

          I’d encourage you to keep interacting with your son in a positive way, obviously if he’s being abusive do what’s best for you, but I wouldn’t be where I am today without low-key positive support from my own mother. So aslong as you have the stamina keep sending those suggestions for meals, offering to go clothes shopping with him is another great one and when he’s feeling up to it he’ll answer you. If you mean to pay for the meal stating that plainly may increase the odds since the fear of being caught in a situation where I didn’t have money when I should have paid was a major source of shame for me. I used to ignore texts and calls from my parents for months at a time when I was going trough a bad episode.

          An other thing that’s worth noting is as someone who has received a lot of gentle advice from my mother, even though well meant, it can feel very stiffling when you don’t have the mental resources to take that advice. This can even go as far as turning someone who really cares for you into a percieved enemy. I was very bad at communicating this at the time but the times I appreciated most with my parents was when I could just hang out with them without any comments on what I should be doing to advance my life. Also it’s worth stating that lack of spending money was one of the things keeping me from being socially active.

          My situation must have seemed hopeless to my own parents, I’ve failed once in university and once in an occupational college and did basicly nothing but sit in front of a computer from when I was 20 ’til when I was about 30 (which was two years into my therapy). I’m now 31 and I’m basicly starting my life from sratch, have a pretty good hold of my day to day things, plan on starting vocational training next year and have an active social life. So there’s hope but it might take a while 🙂

    4. I don’t know if it helps, but as someone who was somewhat like your son, I think you did the right thing. My grades weren’t quite that low, at least not the first semester, but they were bad enough to eventually lead to me being put on academic probation right when I should have been graduating (though I had dropped enough classes that I wouldn’t have had enough credits to graduate anyway). I never showed my parents my grades, but now I wish they had insisted and stopped paying for school sooner. After the academic probation, I went back to school part time while working, paid for it myself, and did *much* better. I needed that wake up call.

      Unfortunately, because it went on so long for me, I couldn’t salvage my GPA and now, almost 20 years later, I’m struggling to figure out how to get into grad school when most want a minimum of a 3.0. Since your son only has one semester with poor grades, if he figures things out and goes back, he will have plenty of time to recover from that.

      1. Your last 90 hours of grades count more than the total, and recommendations and things like research projects, work experience, and GRE scores are important. Apply anyway. Your experience sounds a lot like mine. I got in unexpectedly quickly, and have my PhD now. Make sure you REALLY want to go, though, because grad school is excruciating.

        1. That’s good to hear, though unfortunately because of undiagnosed depression at the time, I just stopped going the last semester I was there full time which of course lead to getting F’s in all four classes and finally got me put on academic probation. I think I took about 5 or 6 classes after that to finally graduate, but I don’t think that would offset those 4 F’s. But you’re right, I think for the degree I want to do (MSW), my experience and references will count for a lot. And depending on where I apply, GRE scores might help – most MSW programs don’t require them, but some will accept them as part of an application if the undergrad GPA is low.

          1. I bet admissions people see ‘struggling in college with depression’ more often than you think. It’s the right age-range for first-onset of symptoms, students are frequently undergoing major life changes without the support they’ve depended on as children and have much less accountability to give them that wake-up call.

            I’d apply anyway. If you think it’d help/are comfortable with essays, maybe write an essay/letter explaining the situation and what you took away from it, and how you’ve done since then, and put that it in your application packet.

            –someone who also struggled with depression in college, most notably over mid-terms week one semester when I just… didn’t get off the couch for a week straight.

          2. Emac, my husband has an MSW, and he got into all the programs he applied to for his MSW, even though he had mediocre grades from a college nobody has heard of, with a major in liberal studies rather than anything related to social work. What he did have was 10 years experience in the social work field, recommendations from former bosses and co-workers, decent GRE scores, and a good idea of what he wanted to do with his degree (as opposed to straight-A students right out of undergrad, who often go on to grad school just because it’s the logical next step, rather than because it’s what they really want to do). He also took a couple community college classes in the year or two before applying, got good grades in them, and was able to ask those professors for recommendations rather than going back to his long-ago undergrad professors.

            Good luck with your own grad school journey!

      2. A lot of schools have some kind of one-course-at-a-time option that does not require admission to a degree program, but does give you a record. If you find one of those, you can take a course at a time and build up some credits with A’s. This proves that your academic performance is now up to standard, and provides a compelling argument why you are now a good candidate.

          1. I hope it goes well!

            I first got admitted to grad school with a GPA below the requirement. It turns out there was an exception process, requiring extra forms, extra letters of recommendation, and compelling arguments about why the candidate was an exception.

            In my case it was because I had let my GPA go south because I was doing bigger and more important things, including PhD-level research for my undergraduate thesis, so that plus killer GRE scores = exception. It sounds like you have compelling arguments to offer too, especially once you build up some recent As to show the course work performance issues are ironed out.

      3. +1. Because my parents supported my sister through 3 years of aimless, major-free junior college (only 2 points to spare to allow graduation) it became basically impossible for her to ever continue. It’s much, much harder to get a GPA up from such a thing as it would be from a single bad semester. You’re doing the right thing LW, I’m very sorry it feels so icky.

    5. Wow, I sympathize. I’d say the Rule of Cats applies to this one — rule out illness or other ill-health first, then deal. Has he had a full medical workup, been screened for depression, etc?

      If he’s fine, and quite possibly even if he isn’t, having to get a job and support himself will do him a world of good, and he can look into college later if he’s so minded.

      In my nuclear family, all of us had false starts / failures to launch immediately on turning 18. The spoiled golden child was never able to get himself together outside of enlisting in the military, which provided him structure to turn himself around somewhat. Another child was suffering catastrophic stress and associated impacts on health, but did fine in the long term and built a good career. Taking a break from college and working for a time was great for her — gave her breathing room, allowed her time to choose a future with a little more thought than one can necessarily do when just turned 18.

      I was suffering pretty horrific health issues at 18, made a good start in college, and then my health completely fell out from under me. My parents decided to take out all their frustrations with the older ones on me, insisting that I could simply will my way out of everything by doing the opposite of all medical instructions. They treated me as a lazy failure, despite having done the best of any of us so far.

      And that’s why I suggest ruling out medical issues. In my case, having to stop and support myself did much more good than harm, and I fought my way through to one hell of an academic track record and career, far beyond anything in the history of my family. But I’ll never forget how they blamed me for medical issues that they made worse through negligence when I was a minor. And I’ll never forget that they decided to write me off as a permanent failure at 19, and put roadblocks in my path ever after to fighting my way though school and paying for school.

      The work won’t hurt him. But you could lose your relationship with the person he becomes if you overlook a medical issue and treat it as a character issue.

      1. That’s a good suggestion – I think not realizing I was struggling with depression and ADHD was one of the reasons that I struggled so much in college. And the way my parents reacted, or rather didn’t react, has had a lasting impact on our relationship. So I’d suggest also thinking about an ADHD screening if any of the signs are there. I skated by up through high school with okay grades, but once in the unstructured environment of college, all my coping mechanisms didn’t help as much anymore.

    6. Damn, that must be hard to watch :/

      Having had friends on similar paths, though, I think some people really need a reality check/ time to mature before a degree is a realistic path.

      I hope this is the last holiday of this flavour for you and yours.

    7. Oh, I hear you! Mine almost didn’t graduate from high school; he just wasn’t motivated or organized, and was often late. Since college meant a lot of loans (I’m still paying off my own student loans!), I didn’t even suggest that as a next step. I went to college right after high school, wasted a bunch of money and dropped out, and didn’t go back until a few years later after I’d had a baby (him), and grown up a bunch.

      He really didn’t have any ideas about what to do next, so I suggested AmeriCorps. He went and did disaster relief with the FEMA branch, and omg, he returned as an adult! Living with him before had meant constant reminding to do any chore, or contribute in any way. After 10 months at AmeriCorps, he was cooking family meals and cleaning up after himself. And he decided he really wants to go to RIT, though his grades aren’t going to get him admission, so he researched the associated community college and has started there, with the intention to transfer when he can, once he’s proved he can do the work. I’m so relieved and proud. Maybe it was the AmeriCorps experience, or maybe he just needed a year to mature, but these kids who don’t succeed at first can get there! As a bonus, AmeriCorps does offer some money towards college, as well as a productive job, room and board for the time they’re in it.

  7. I’m actually not sure if I should write this in the holiday blues thread or in the celebration dance thread… but here we go: I’m on call during the Christmas holidays. Which means that I’m going to spend the entire holiday either working or all by myself in my flat, without Christmas food, presents or company. On the other side: I have a superb excuse for not spending the holidays with my parents (who are in the middle of a messy divorce but still lives together, and oh, did I mention that my dad are a (maybe) recovering alcoholic and emotional abuser and my mother is pretty easy to trigger into either tears or anger right now?).

    So: yay for not having to spend time at the most toxic Christmas party ever.
    But: nay for working the entire weekend and spending time all alone. I actually worked three hours overtime today just to be with the great nurses on the clinic and not home all by myself. It was pretty festive actually, they sang Christmas songs and wore little Santa hats.

    Actually: I’m happy. It’s a great Christmas.

  8. I’m having one of, if not the, worst Christmases I can remember. A month ago, one of my beloved kitties died at 14 after a couple of months of suddenly increasing health problems. He and his brother are literally the only reasons I’m alive today, and his death hurts so badly. His brother misses him too, and wanders around the apartment crying and looking for him. It breaks my heart.

    While I was dealing with my cat’s illness, my anchor partner, who was also my first 24/7 D/s relationship, was pulling away without communicating. He finally left a week and a half after my cat died.

    I’m 45, and I haven’t had a happy Christmas in over a decade, since before my divorce. I’ve been suicidally depressed, I’ve been lonely, but this pain, these two losses, have me reeling.

    Every year since the mid-1980s, my parents have shared Xmas Eve with another family they’ve been friends with since forever. This year, my parents are hosting. I’d stay the night with them and do a quiet breakfast, just the three of us. Then tomorrow, my parents and I were to go to my older sister’s new BF’s house to celebrate Christmas Day.

    I spent yesterday procrastinating, avoiding figuring out what to wear, wrapping presents, signing cards, until I finally started to force myself into gear. And then I started sobbing and couldn’t stop for over an hour.

    I called Mom this morning and said I couldn’t make it down today. I could hear the disappointment in her voice, but I just…can’t even move in that direction without falling apart.

    I know I’m doing the right thing, but it hurts and it sucks and I’ve never felt this much active grief.

    1. I am sad for your losses. I am a pet owner and submissive and I can’t imagine the energy it takes to do normal stuff with this much hurt, let alone Christmas.

      I hope you can be gentle with yourself and snuggle your kitty through the grief of missing your little one who has passed on. I will be thinking of you.

    2. Another pet owner and submissive here, and any one of these things on its own would be heartbreaking, let alone all of them at once. I’m so sorry, and sending so much love your way if you’d like it.

    3. I’m sorry for what’s happening. I lost one of my bunnies the day after Christmas two years ago, and it was a bad Christmas to begin with. As a fellow pet lover, I understand how much losing your fur baby hurts. Please be good to yourself. Hugs if you want them.

    4. HUGS



      Do what you need to do. I wish I could help more. I’m sorry for your losses, and I hope you come out of this bad time in a timely manner and with new inspiration. I care.

    5. I am so so sorry. I just lost my most beloved cat of 20 years and it hurts like the mother of all sucking chest wounds. I am so sorry.

  9. I miss my mum.

    It’s been four years now since she had a stroke and went into palliative care, and for some reason this year is hitting really, really hard. I just keep having crying jags, realizing my mother isn’t around, and doesn’t recognize me, and won’t ever recognize me, and I’m just so sad. I keep thinking of how much she *loved* the holiday, and the amount of effort we used to put into Christmas together (we always put up the decorations together) and how mum was one of the people who taught me how to buy Christmas presents, and of mum dancing in the living room to carols and it all *hurts*.

    I’ve been calling my father pretty much every day this week, and even he admits that for some reason this year’s been hitting harder than usual. Neither of us really know what to do except reminisce on the good times and cry a bit. And my boyfriend keeps holding me and stroking my hair and saying he’s there for me, which just makes me sadder, because my mother would have *adored* him, but I’ll never know, because we’ve only been dating since after mum’s stroke and just…

    This Christmas is hard. I don’t know why. I really, really miss my mum and want her back. I thought I’d hit the ‘acceptance’ part of grieving, but for some reason the season has sent me spiralling straight back into ‘anger’ and ‘depression’.

    1. How heartbreaking. If it means anything, you did right by your mum by getting together with what sounds like a lovely man. If I ever have a stroke and can’t recognise my son, I would so love him to have someone standing by him – I’d want that more than anything. It’s the best gift you could give her. xxx

        1. I’m glad. You be okay and take care of yourself. You’ll be doing it for her as well as you. xxx

        2. Or, to put it another way, since I don’t want to suggest you’re wronging her if you don’t feel okay: your grief honours her virtues as a person; your self-care honours her love as a mother. Either way, you’re a good daughter she was lucky to have.

  10. My mother took a stroke last month and is having Christmas in hospital. I thought that the silver lining of that situation was that I could do Christmas by myself with my dog, and watch Doctor Who and Home Alone and whatnot (I love having control of the remote), but no, my relations are terrified at the notion that *gasp* someone might be ALONE at Christmas!! NOOOO! (Seriously, their attitude is straight out of a cheesy direct-to-DVD Christmas movie minus the charm). So I am now obliged to have Christmas around people when all I want to do is grinch out and do my own thing.

    Like, I’m both an only child and an introvert (not to mention a Grown-Ass-Adult) so I would be TOTALLY FINE ALONE, but they refuse to hear no and will be horribly hurt if I refuse to go to them. And yes, I know there are people queueing at shelters and soup kitchens to get Christmas dinner, and I really *shouldn’t* complain that family want to feed me and spend time with me, but I really feel more like being alone with my furbaby doing my own thing. Yet I agreed to go, so I have only myself to blame for feeling so stuck in this situation.

    I really am wondering if I should come up with a last-minute excuse and just Scrooge the holidays, but… I don’t want to hurt Cousin’s feelings, and seem like a bitch – and I can totally picture Relations coming to my place instead and me not being able to get rid of them, just so I Won’t Be Alone 😥

    Bah, humbug.

    1. Please, don’t use the “soup kitchens” line on yourself: yes, there are people at shelters queuing for Christmas dinners, but if they’re homeless they would likely be queuing for dinner there even if it weren’t Christmas. You deserve to celebrate Christmas the way you would like and feel comfortable celebrating it, and that includes not celebrating it at all.

      I hope your family aren’t too difficult, and that you’re able to escape fairly soon and have the Christmas you want.

      1. I second what fivethingsunmixed said. I bailed on Christmas Day dinner with the extended family , for the first time EVAH, and it was so freeing! I saw my immediate family on Christmas Eve, exchanged gifts, observed Snark and Sn arl between spouses, and decided that the S&S had potential to escalate yuuugely (thanks, Donald!) in the extended family setting. So I was sick (true: sick of toxicity) and bailed on the ExtFam dinner. I had a peaceful day at home: just what I needed. This may help others who need to honor themselves and their needs (especially the need for peace).
        Best wishes!

  11. I realised yesterday that I am not in love with my partner anymore and I contemplate how to break off a distance relationship and at the same time DON’T DOUBT since it could be a workrelated chock (like, things are good so my brain need to fuck something up for me) . But atm I panic and do not want to wish him Merry Xmas by sms. But god damn, I should.

    1. That sucks so much. 😦 I hate it whenever I come to that realization.

      I don’t know how your partner does, but for me when I’m on the receiving end of a breakup, having verbal and non-reassurances that the person still cares about me as a friend really really helps. (I can’t do the nuclear no-contact option, ever.) Text away!

  12. I have celebrated one relationship on the other “channel” but here I’ll say, man has it been hard to find qualified mental help this year. Having seen four people, one a PhD and having them all have just weird problems, like, touching me w/o asking permission (NO) interrupting me to talk about their vacation plans, another who has taken 5 appts of my time while he learns to fill out an intake form (I’m going to send a bill for tutoring, really) there’s more. I need a proper Aspie diagnosis and real help, so I can get well and FFS get off disability and go back to work, and can’t believe no one can help me find adult Aspie treatment. I’ve asked so many people so many times. This year is a not-Christmas, nothing other than a wreath on my door.
    I am proud I’m not trying to force relationships with relatives even if it means I’m alone. I have been thinking all week about a guy who lives where I’d like to live. I wish I could be with him, but it’d be a dangerous mix -he needs to be on meds- and I can’t risk contact, this to protect us both. I am sure he knows I love him and that he cares for me. I need to go to the store before they close for the evening… fridge is bare. Too many homeless people in my neighborhood under tarps and piles of furniture on the sidewalks as the rent control gives way to gentrification. The last Christmas before our own Night of the Long Knives?
    I think I’ll go to a candlelight service tonight. Happy Solstice to all.

    1. It is very, very hard to get any kind of mental health help as an adult aspie. I’ve given up for the time being (I was diagnosed as a child, luckily, I don’t envy you that nightmare!).

      1. Yes it is. And it doesn’t get better if you’re functioning extremely well — then people just point to your successes as proof that you only need mainstreamed care, then get upset when you get upset that the mainstream caregivers abuse you for behaving like you have…big shock here…Asperger’s.

        One of my favorites — a therapist who damn well should have known better asked me if it were possible that I would ever be friends again with my abusive ex someday. I gave a standard Aspie answer — I gave a literal answer to the question she asked. Which means I said it was *possible*, in a tone like one would use to say that it’s *possible* that the sun would nova tomorrow (meaning it’s not theoretically or statistically IMpossible). Bitch then proceeded to go on at great length about how I clearly “wanted it to happen” and that my answer could have no other meaning than that I was dysfunctionally longing for abuse. She refused to hear that my answer referred to the unlikely possibility that he would get a complete personality transplant. Nope, it had to be about me having some kind of pain wish.

        They don’t like adult Aspies much in this country. If you can pass for NT, they hate you for not being NT in the corner cases where you can’t pass. If you can’t pass for NT, they hate you for not passing.

        1. She refused to hear that my answer referred to the unlikely possibility that he would get a complete personality transplant. Nope, it had to be about me having some kind of pain wish.

          Ugh. Has she seriously never met a literal-minded person before? Even among neurotypicals, that’s not unusual (see also: every engineer or computer programmer ever). That is a truly terrible therapist.

        2. Helen, the choices that therapist made were wrong ones. That wasn’t based on training, that was the person’s bias and lack of training. I just want to validate you. I admire your strength. You know you are right!

          Thanks to all in this thread! The funding of Aspie research organizations I’ve contacted is limited to helping children, and no one I’ve talked to has known of anyone helping adults. I’ve read a book by John Elder Robison called “Look Me in the Eye” man did that title leap off the bookstore shelf at me. He had a shrewd doctor-friend suggest he seek a diagnosis and Robison was in his ’40’s. Robison’s the brother of writer Augusten Burrows, who’s written “Running With Scissors” among others. Robison’s own book is gaspingly funny but also gave me hope to go look for help. I’ve struck out, despite living in a major US city with several renowned universities and teaching hospitals.

          The Duplass Brothers just signal-boosted an indie doc called “Aspergers Are Us” using their 4-picture deal with Netflix to get this story into their active library at this writing. Highly recommend. The oldest of the quartet of friends wasn’t diagnosed till he was 20 and says that afterward he skipped home with joy at finally getting the info.

          So, gradually, the needs of our forgotten tribe is going mainstream. Can’t happen soon enough for me. So sick of the rejection, loneliness, career strangulation and firings “you use big words!” (accusingly) and hazing “you’re arrogant!” So grateful to the Army.

  13. I’m new here. In part with the help of posts from Captain Awkward, the forums, and especially my younger brother’s support, I managed to exit a relationship which was descending into emotional abuse two days ago. I’d tried and failed to break up once before. My now ex-boyfriend is older than me by nine years and disabled, and the caregiving dynamic had started to become darker when I pushed back against taking on more and more responsibilities for aspects of his life. I grew up with two alcoholic parents witnessing horrendous emotional abuse and some domestic violence, and I could see the writing on the wall. With help and encouragement, we broke up.

    But oh, it was so hard. When I broke the news to him, he was civil, kind, helpful as I packed up; he didn’t try to argue or reason with me, we both cried. I remembered all the reasons I loved him (and there were so many). One of the most painful things I’ve ever done. In the two days since I keep bursting into tears at random, and I can’t sleep.

    And of course I am now home with family for Christmas. With my alcoholic parents. And last night my mother, intoxicated, began berating my brother at the dinner table for no good reason. I feel like I’ve left one toxic situation for an even more toxic situation. I care about my family but living apart from my parents is the best thing that’s ever happened to our relationship. I love my brother, more than anyone, but he is an idiosyncratic, highly-strung, demanding person to love. I just want to be alone.

    I’ll have the money in a few weeks to move out – rent a room somewhere. I work. I have until recently been completely financially independent on my parents. But I have to get through the next few weeks and I am so fragile and vulnerable right now. Every time I think of my ex my skin aches from wanting to be near him.

    1. Oh manaed, it’s so common to have those backlash feelings after you leave an abuser… They do their best to take over your whole life, and so it takes a while on your own before you feel like a whole person again. It sounds like this one was smart too, reminding you of the good times instead of screaming at you. That doesn’t make that relationship better.. Can you make a plan to read a whole lot of the captain over the next few days? Can you get a copy of Lundy Bancroft ‘s “why does he do that?” and ponder that? Can you get some emergency counseling from your local women’s shelter? Consider this time as a detox, and please be as good to yourself as possible, the life ahead -is- much better..

      At least you have a plan of action to get yourself away from the alcoholic parents, that’ll help a lot. But can you get yourself out for a bit before you’re out for good? This is a time of intense travel for many people, can you look at Craigslist for petsitting? Hit up co-workers for housesitting? Being alone to reflect can’t be worse than screaming parents. And if they seem reluctant to have you leave, because they feel guilty about screaming when they know you need help instead, you can always play “but friend needs me desperately for the goldfish”.

      Hang in there M, if you’ve just been through the worst, a few weeks is all you need to turn your life around..

  14. This year I feel like my anthem is “Where are you Christmas?” I’m just not in the spirit–depression is flaring (at least partly because LO just started pre-school) so I’ve been dwelling no than usual on being lonely, medication to help with side effects of that are making me more scatter-brained than usual and also seems to be making me irritable, and joy of joys lunch tomorrow at my MIL’s and since my SIL re-married her ex this year there’s no way I’ll be able to relax with him around, especially with LO and a puppy to keep an eye on. So the biggest thing I have to look forward to is tainted 😦 Overall I’m feeling miserable and it’s not like I have anything that bad to point to as a reason which just makes me feel worse.

    1. “Santa” forgot to get anything for me stocking. I’d probably be more upset if I’d been in a better mood to start with.

  15. My wife and I, during a somewhat tearful discussion, just discovered that each of us is doing Christmas because we thought the other one was into it. I’m pagan and only do Christmas because my family always did, and really I’d rather be celebrating Saturnalia or something. She’s agnostic (but, as she puts it, what she’s agnostic about is paganism) and has deeply mixed feelings about Christmas. So next year, no Christmas but family Christmas, and then only if there’s actual travel involved.

      1. Heh.

        It was an absolutely miserable conversation, which is why it ended up here instead of the other thread. Not sure that came through. Sorry.

        1. I’m sorry if my lighthearted remark was disrespectful to the gravity of the conversation. Glad it’s behind you and that you can both stop performing.

  16. The family Christmas celebration is going to be postponed, as my mom and I, the most competent cooks in the family, are both sick, Mom with a cold, and me with some digestive thing-from-hell that has lasted nearly two weeks so far and shows no signs of letting up and letting me eat anything other than bananas, toast, or rice (when I have the energy to cook rice). So since two out of four family members are not really up to eating and we happen to be the chief cooks, Christmas dinner isn’t happening, at least not on Christmas Day, anyway. (My adult daughter can cook to a point but hasn’t the experience to know how to put together something as complex as Christmas dinner and have all the dishes ready at more or less the same time.)

    So my Christmas day is likely going to consist of loafing around my flat, hanging out with my cat, and fucking around online, which doesn’t sound too bad until you consider that’s all I’ve done (except go to medical appointments) for weeks.

      1. Thanks. My cat is being cuddly, which would help more if she wouldn’t insist on sitting across my stomach. :/

    1. Ugh, me too. I’ve got a rotten cold and possible stomach upset, so I’ve had nothing but white rice all day. Husband is sick too. We’ve cancelled our plans to visit my family and are just staying home with our increasingly bored six-year-old – who, being autistic with language delay, is not easy to explain the situation to or to entertain… It is a combination of ‘situation that demands energy’ and ‘having no energy’ that I do not enjoy.

      Well, at least he liked his presents, and coped very well with the plan change. And my new year resolution is to complain less, so I’ll get with it then. But right now I’m fed up: this is the third virus I’ve had this month. Comes from having two big freelance jobs on at the same time plus parenting and Christmas prep: I’m exhausted, and not near the end of either project, and am going to have to work through the ‘break’ just to keep on top, leaving me no time at all to rewrite the novel my agent wants polished, which is what I actually want to be doing. Sigh. I know there are worse problems, but I feel very overstrained.

  17. Haha of fucking course my chronic ear problems would flare p and make me headachy and nauseous to-fucking-day. Also I seem to have become gluten intolerant gradually over time which I didn’t even know was a thing. I thought you either were or weren’t. Never had restrictions before, but now I can’t even have a piece of toast without coughing up copious amounts of phlegm

    1. 😦 As many other people have expressed, being sick over the holidays sucks. I hope you feel better soon, and much love and sympathy over the gluten intolerance thing: it sucks to feel unwell and not quite know what’s wrong.

  18. I’m just not feeling it this year. For the past two months, I’ve been struggling with serious illness and PTSD. I just recently learned that I will need surgery. I’ve been barely hanging on with my friends sending me funny things they think I would like and the occasional gripe, but now that it’s Christmas they’re all gone, and will be for a few days. People keep telling me “Merry Christmas” and it’s just not a thing I can feel right now for this reason– a day that’s been designated for us all to be happy. I feel even more alone.

  19. My husband died four weeks ago. So Christmas is just not happening. I’ve gone on holiday instead – not sure if this is going to work but I am exhausted after months of caregiving as well as the bereavement itself, and I decided I might just as well cry sitting on a beach as on my couch. I’ve opted for a resort I’ve never been to before but is similar enough to previous destinations to be easier to cope with logistically. That’s the plan, anyway. I’m sadder than I have ever been in my life and I miss him unbearably. Christmas and all that goes with it is just an irrelevance. Tomorrow I’m going to go for a long walk along the beach and ignore the whole thing.

    1. I’m so sorry for your loss. I hope that getting away to somewhere beautiful will at least allow you to relax, restore some of your energy and grieve in a way that’s helpful to you.

    2. That’s a really, really, really smart plan. Trying to perform Christmas right now would taint the Christmas-y things you do with the emotions of now, making future ones harder.

      It will take a while to learn which Christmas things to keep, going forwards, and which belong to the past when he was alive. And there will be some pain in finding out which is which. It’s very wise not to try to do any of that this year.

    3. My family made a very similar decision. Mom died after her long battle with cancer three weeks ago, so we (dad, my brother, his partner, and me) all went to a theme park instead and wandered around all day instead of sitting in the empty apartment hating the silence. I hope it went as well for you as it did for us.

  20. I really appreciate this thread. Christmas has a lot of complex (almost entirely negative) emotions for me, to the point where I think this might be PTSD. When I hear Christmas music, I feel so dizzy and nauseous that I have to run out into the parking lot to vomit (or breathe slowly enough to prevent the vomiting). The worst is surprise carolers on a train or other enclosed area. It’s so terrible to have this anxiety while running errands and being surrounded by people who are performing so much joy. How can anyone feel this is a joyous holiday? It is nothing but rudeness, forced consumerism, anxiety, and pain. Made worse by travel, crowds, awful television, and that inescapable music.

    It’s been 20 years since I’ve celebrated Christmas and the anxiety and pain never goes away. All the causes for this feeling have been dealt with very well through therapy and recovery, except for this season. Everything else is balanced and wonderful in my life — but it truly feels like I am the only one to be even slightly suspicious of Christmas, let alone to be part of a community like this where many people have varying levels of distrust or “not feeling it” or something other than “pure joy.”

    I appreciate captain awkward so very, very much.

    1. I’m with you here. I live with several other adults and children, and the Christmas lovers have taken over the season by default with the Christmas agnostics leaving me high and dry as the lone grinch. Truth be told, I think I wouldn’t be quite so negative if they’d invited an initial conversation about all of our feelings about the holiday, but any criticism of the festivities only earns defensive reactions–“she’s trying to take away our joy!”–and everyone treats me like a grump who thinks too much. My input is only invited if it’s about where to put this or that decoration or when to do this or that event. Doing any of it differently isn’t an option, at least not without resentment and crying (from the adults).

      I’m so put off by the unavoidably religious elements, the appropriation of earlier belief systems to achieve dominance, the obligatory gift giving and obligatorily gracious receiving, the insistence that you see family members you’d otherwise happily avoid, the corporate-image Santa, the weird insecurity of American Christianity that needs to shove itself into every store display and loudspeaker to feel validated, and the tokenism of the odd menorah or mention of Kwanzaa. And I *like* the idea of a midwinter festival season! This one is just so exclusive while proclaiming itself inclusive, insisting that everyone is welcome to celebrate as long as they celebrate and celebrate hard.

      I’m sorry for your pain. I hope that one day you’re able to ride out the season in your own fashion, full of whatever emotion you want to feel, and nausea-free.

    2. Oh my gods. I thought I was the only one who felt this way about Christmas music. I actually bolted out of restaurant when they switched the music to that awful stuff and my wife had to ask them to change it (our waitress was surprisingly nice about it, but I suppose service workers do get tired of it). I hate it SO MUCH and no one really believes me, it feels like. They think it’s a “quirk” instead of something that’s more like an eggbeater made of knives stuck in my corpus callosum.

      You’re not alone.

  21. This is so minor compared to everyone else, but I need somewhere to vent. I’ve got a rough family of origin and I’ve pretty much sorted it out – I moved far away and only see them for very brief periods of time (like – we’re talking 4 or 5 hours tops) at scheduled times like holidays or birthdays (thankfully not mine). I can handle them and keep loving them with that level of contact. My family thinks I am a horribly-abused workaholic because they all have convinced themselves that everything is fine and was fine and we’re all fine (we’re not, and since they can’t even acknowledge that, probably never will be) and so they won’t accept reasons for me not being around other than work, so that’s always my excuse.

    That’s all sorted tho – what we have works. Except at Christmas, where all of my friends (and more importantly my (extremely closeted) polycule) all have actual sane loving families that they spend upwards of a week with. Leaving me alone. And lonely, and missing that I’ll never have a family like that (and I don’t even WANT one – a 4-day weekend one summer with my absolutely lovely in-laws nearly sent me to the hospital) but dammit I feel broken and stupid and bored and wrong every freaking Christmas and I’m sick of it.

    And I don’t want to whine about it to my family of choice because they already feel bad for me because of my mental/emotional hang ups and crappy family and childhood. I can’t guilt them out of a happy Christmas. Ugh.

    1. Hugs to you, if you want them. It’s not minor — it’s hurting, it’s pain, and no one can feel your pain but you. It doesn’t make it any less valid or hurt less.

    2. *hug* I’m sorry your polycule needs to be that closeted, leaving you alone right now. to be spending time with you right now.

      1. Sorry, that was rather bad cut-and-paste revision. Trying again:

        I’m sorry your polycule needs to be that closeted, meaning they’re leaving you alone right now, rather than spending time with you.

  22. I’m scrolling through my Facebook news feed and seeing my friends all get happily excited and emotional for Christmas (which, here, is arriving in a little over an hour). They are talking about magic and family and love and magic and happiness and family and so on.

    Every time I see it I have to hold back tears. This is such a painful time of year for me. I should stay off social media but I’ve been away for a week and I’m missing my friends.

    I come from a horribly toxic, abusive family and Christmas was a deeply, deeply unhappy time for me as a child. We didn’t have magic, we had yelling. We didn’t have fun, we had a strictly regimented and regulated Christmas Day regime we had to follow and couldn’t touch anything without express permission. We didn’t have sparkles, we had emotional abuse. We didn’t have love, we had walking on eggshells lest my mother fly into a rage and hit us again. I didn’t realise until adulthood that spending hundreds on gifts for family members was even a thing, for those who could afford it. I didn’t realise board games could be fun rather than fierce battles to prove one’s superiority. I didn’t realise you could choose whether or not to eat things that made you feel ill.

    People look at me as if I have two heads when I say I don’t celebrate Christmas and sometimes actually get upset about it and demand explanations. I’m tired of that. I have a daughter now and I want us to grow into our own family traditions and start Christmas from scratch and create brand new positive associations, but there’s such a strong narrative around us of Christmas being about childhood memories and also we have to spend every Christmas with my husband’s family in their home and they don’t do things in a way that’s compatible with the traditions I want to start with my daughter. I know I have to talk to the relevant people about this but honestly this Christmas thing drains my emotional energy because I associate it so strongly with just fighting to survive it.

    Thank you for reading this, I appreciate it 🙂

    1. I’ve been there! This is the first nonconflicting year for us and it came ata big cost to family relationships, but I can tell you from the other side that me and my daughter are loving this holiday. It’s Christmas, she’s spoilt rotten, we’re enjoying our gifts…!

    2. Oh, hugs to you if you want them. One of my major PTSD flashback-nightmares is just “family christmas” and it destroys me every single time. It took years of therapy and non-contact with my family to be able to ease into christmas with friends, and eventually my family as an adult.

    3. I am the same way. Christmas meant more time away from the safety of school and more time trapped at home. It was definitely about survival. Summers and birthdays used to have similar connotations for me as well.

      I am in my twenties now and am focused on creating new traditions and new memories for these times of year. For example, every year I take myself on a cool solo trip for my birthday. Now, instead of associating my birthday with extra abuse or being forgotten, I associate it with fun and wonder and feeling like the adventurous person I always wanted to be.

      Creating new Christmas traditions is harder though, because it’s so ritualized in our culture already. And like you said, it’s very emotionally draining in a way that other holidays aren’t. I think it’s ok to just accept that it’s going to be a slightly sad time of year, and focus on self-care accordingly. That’s more or less what I’ve been doing this year — lots of yoga, reading and bubble baths. Also trying to be grateful for everything I have, and how much better my life is now.

      Hang in there. You sound like a great mom.

  23. I had a miscarriage in late July, and I’ve had moments of tears this Christmas. Much love to all who have had infertility or miscarriages, and for whom holidays sting sometimes.

    1. This. So much this. Miscarriage in April. Miscarriage in October. I should have a one month old in my arms right now. Or be almost five months pregnant. Nothing is fair. Trying to be jolly.

    2. So many hugs. My friend miscarried at 32 weeks on the 23rd so I just took a few hours out to go and visit the baby before it is cremated, give her a hug and just be present. I didn’t know how hard it was until I participated in it first hand.

  24. I love Christmas, I always have. I get really excited for it every year. I love the decorations, presents, festive food and the music most of all. And for some reason I spent tonight sad and alone because my husband stopped talking to me mid conversation and went upstairs alone while I moved the kids’ presents downstairs. There was a moment when his mood changed and he insists he is fine but holy fuck that is not true at all. He struggles with depression but refuses to get help because people from his country don’t believe in therapy. I am so fed up with this. He has said he is extremely unhappy and living here in this house with us isn’t helping. He never wants to talk about anything important, and I feel like I am just waiting for him to leave me.

    1. Hugs hugs hugs if you want them. I lived with a man like your husband for 5 (very, very long) years. I finally left earlier this year and I’m still sorting through the leftover insecure attachment issues and emotional wreckage of that relationship. BUT, it’s also so much better on the other side. I don’t know if leaving is an option for you, or whether your husband will finally seek help for his mental health issues, but I’ve been where you are and you have all of my sympathy and empathy and virtual hugs. I hope that it gets better for you, one way or another!

  25. I struggle terribly with anxiety and this new potential nuclear arms race is throwing me for a loop. we debated having kids for almost a decade because I feared they would die in some sort of horrible way. It was a huge leap of faith to have them, and now this. I’m not doing well.

    I’ve been reading prepper websites all day, looking at potential target maps, cataloging our survival supplies, which has basically kept me emotionally from my kids on what should be a special day.

    I’m so angry. I can’t buy a better car seat or get vaccines or do anything against nuclear war and frankly, the president elect doesn’t seem to care that families have precious babies that they love so much. So I feel voiceless and powerless. And utterly panicked.

    Merry Christmas. May it not be our last 😿

    1. I feel you in this place…I’m having my parents over for Christmas, and we’re doing fun things and I’m doing my best to be a gracious hostess. But I just feel such a weight on me because everything we do, everything we talk about seems absolutely trivial. My family does not discuss politics, ever. Do they recognize that Earth is dying? How can I possibly articulate to anyone that I believe this really may be my last “normal” Christmas even if the nukes stay grounded?

      The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come has brought me here, but I can’t fast-forward to the narration to find out what actually happens. I just have to let it play in real time and it’s tearing me apart and I just want to enjoy this one normal Present Christmas with my family.

      1. I hate it. I hate that people treat me like it’s just OCD, but I get incensed when I see people idling their cars at all, or not shutting them off for the couple of minutes that they waited – don’t they understand they just irrevocably made the world a slightly worse place?

  26. I just want to be left alone. I don’t want to talk to my family, I don’t want to listen to carols, I don’t want any of it. I want the next few weeks to speed by so I can be back on my regular schedule of gaming and not having to be the perfect fucking hostess at work bc I’m the head admin assistant.

  27. (CN for drugs, alcohol, neglect of children/endangerment of children, mention of suicidal ideation — not mine)

    The holidays are usually one of my favourite times of the year — I love to spoil the little kids in my family and see their pleasure with the stuff I’ve made for them, I spend most of the year picking up tiny things for specific loved ones, and I get to visit with my extended family which is huge but warm and loving and kind and understanding about anxiety.

    This year is brutal. My brother’s been lying to his wife, stealing from their kids’ education fund and putting it up his nose, and they’re both talking about getting divorced in January. He’s supposed to help take care of their kids (she’s the sole earner of the family but works massive hours because of it) and most days is either too drunk, too high or just can’t be roused to do so. It keeps falling to me and my mother, and both of us are disabled (in ways that at least are different so we’re able to cover for each others’ areas of difficulty). It’s exhausting. I’ve been running on fumes for three months now, dealing with two live-in alcoholics and kids who are here more often than they’re not, and even when they’re not supposed to be they get dropped off in pajamas, unfed, and weepy. When my brother’s supposed to be taking care of them he often passes out and can’t be reached so frantic phonecalls hit me and my mom and it will turn out he was blackout drunk or just asleep. I’m terrified for these kids. CPS has gotten involved once already and didn’t do their jobs — no drug tests, nothing, and since everyone was smiling they went on to “real” abuse cases. These kids are toddlers. He forgets to put their carseats in, and puts them in the front seat, and brings a beer for the road. I’ve spent a lot of nights with them curled up in bed with me, weepy, because their daddy constantly makes promises and then breaks them and they live in constant disappointment, and they light up with joy every time they DO manage to see him. They’ll be here and he’ll be asleep or in bed on his phone until they leave most of the time. There are so many lies. Constant lies. CONSTANT lies. I can’t handle all the lies, the easy smiles of his, reassuring people everything’s fine and he’ll take care of things and then dropping them in my lap and being horribly offended when I’m upset by it.

    And I have NO ONE to talk to about this. My family thinks I’m being too negative (I think they’re enabling as hell), and my dad is convinced that if we’d just “do things together” everything would be fine (my brother won’t get up for things we plan to do) and because his kids aren’t “friends” right now he cries and talks about suicide. I can’t talk to my doctors because that’s how CPS got involved. I can’t talk to my therapist because her advice is to ignore everything, and she doesn’t let me talk about the “details” when they’re what my mind keeps getting caught on. I usually love my therapist but even she blamed me for the CPS thing, because I should have known about mandated reporting, and accused me of trying to initiate a fight because of the cycle of abuse which means there’s a grace period after. I didn’t call CPS. I didn’t know. My whole family hates me because of it. I don’t feel safe around my brother, someone who was my best friend for most of my life. But he’s been lying forever. That whole time. I KNOW the kids aren’t safe with just him watching them. I don’t understand why there aren’t other options, but it’s probably a money thing, and my family is siding with my brother against my sister-in-law so they won’t help her out.

    I know my brother has problems and needs help but he also doesn’t want it and I can’t make him get it, no matter what resources I’ve offered. I’d go to support groups myself but I’m so exhausted every day I can’t do anything more than fall into bed. Tomorrow is the first day I’ll see my sister-in-law in three months and she hates my guts because of CPS getting involved because she thinks I was trying to take the kids away from her, when I’d rather see her in sole custody, even if it would make my brother sad. His sadfeels are considered the most important thing.

    I want him to hit rock bottom. I don’t think anything else will make him wake up. My family’s trying to prevent it at all costs. I’m angry because I’ve been there and got help, I’m still getting help, I’m still actively working on new ways to manage my own disability and problems. I’m angry because now that I WANT to live, I feel like I’m carrying even more than before, and that was enough to break me.

    Thank you for the feelingsdump-area. It’s worse because it’s the holidays, which are a time when I love to bake for friends and express gratitude and love through cards to everyone around me — the most I’ve managed are donuts and cards to retail workers on my route who are the closest things to friends I have right now and my major source of adult human interaction. I haven’t even wrapped things for tomorrow. I’m too exhausted. I’ve withdrawn from my friends so hard and for so long, and even when I do reach out, there’s nothing they can do but listen, and it helps a bit, but they’re at a total loss.

    I know I need to leave. It’s incredibly hard. My disability pay keeps getting “accidentally” canceled and it takes days of tearful phonecalls or office visits (with kids in tow) to set things right. I can’t trust I’ll be able to pay rent on time because this has happened four times this year. The last one was the first of December, because merry christmas, disability office is going on vacation and your benefits were canceled so you can’t even get your medication. Meanwhile I’m trying to stretch my disability money to cover feeding extra people but I can’t declare them as dependents.

    Despite all of this, while I’m not okay, I AM okay. The core of me. I can still smile and feel joy and pleasure and love, even in tiny things. Especially in tiny things. Tiny things are all I have, and that’s okay right now. I’m still optimistic about the future. I just want the holidays to be over so I can stop chewing anxiety meds like candy and spending time I should be using to take care of myself huddled in a blanket fort (or mostly just under the covers of my bed).

    1. Hopefully this is a helpful thought -could you talk to someone at a child abuse hotline? As far as I understand they won’t push you to do anything, they’re supportive listeners. That sounds really, really hard and it’s always so much worse to be in a position where you can’t talk about it.

    2. I’m beaming validation in your general direction, because that sucks so hard. I wish something good had come out of that CPS visit, even if it was putting the kids in foster care because 1) that would be actual care that 2) you wouldn’t have to be on the hook for and have a chance to recover physically. It’s not your fault that your brother is being so shitty and it’s his shittiness is why CPS would be up in your business, not yours at all.

    3. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this! I have no solutions, but I wanted you to know people were reading and sympathizing.

    4. I am so sorry this situation has continued on unabated. I am sorry that your therapist turned out not to be an ally in this after all, but just another part of the problem for you. This really sucks. Maybe you can have a heart to hear with SIL? Maybe direct communication can convince her that you’d love to help her get sole custody if that’s what it takes to get the kids into a safer, more stable routine and for your brother to hit bottom and seek help.

      1. *hugs* I figured this was pretty specific, heh. I did talk to my SIL today — I apologized, but she doesn’t think she did anything wrong in calling me a “danger to her kids” and forbidding them to be around me (until she needed more free babysitting) or anything else. Whatever. I told her that I supported her, but she said she didn’t want people to take sides, meanwhile I’m worried about her KIDS, not the adults in this situation. I really don’t think she understands that. Right now it’s entirely her ego vs my brother’s and I just want to wrap the kids up in the blanket fort and keep them (except I’ve been having panic attacks lately because they’ve been so rowdy/tantrumy/reacting-to-stress-in-their-own-ways, and unfortunately I can’t handle it in extended doses.

        I think she’ll wind up with sole custody, but that’s not going to take a lot of pressure off me — she’s not blameless in all of this, she’s the one dumping the kids on me with no warning as often as my brother is. Forgets PA days, school holidays, appointments, everything. She also expects me to do it, there’s no asking, just “Here are the children, take them or they’ll freeze outside, I will eventually take them back, bye”. She needs a live-in nanny or something (my grandma did that for a bit for my parents) but I am not the person who can do it. I swear, I feel like there are NO adults involved in all of this sometimes. I hope she moves back to be with family, she does have a huge supportive family on the other side of the country.

        I’d still support her having sole custody over my brother having any. I don’t wanna deny him his kids, but he’s like a rabid wolverine, you don’t put kids in the same room with one, even if everyone is sad all around that you won’t do it. Someone has to be an adult.

    5. Anontoday, I read your story too. All of it, twice. I hear you. I’m thrilled to read of you preserving your mental state, and that the meds are working.

      The problems of these troubled adults are also serious but this jumble must fall second to protecting the children from harm or death. Anyone not saying “How can we immediately protect the children?” must be filtered out for now.

      Your brother’s addiction is disabling him and he must not endanger those children by driving with them as you describe. It’s almost as important that the uneven environment is severely disruptive to the children’s mental and emotional stability.

      If your brother were well wouldn’t he agree? Wouldn’t he be asking you for help?

      The CPS not doing their job is an emergency situation.

      If CPS has done this with your family, they are doing it to others. Someone in their organization is a liability. What are your thoughts on pulling one of your better, estranged friends back in and rather then “venting” to them, micro-tasking them with finding help? In my city I can call 211. There’s also 1-800-422-4453 The National Child Abuse Hotline. Your local hospital has trained professionals. Your city may have other agencies. The school system may be able to refer you. A local pro-bono attorney, maybe found through calling your State’s Bar Association.

      What do you think of (anonymously) reporting your brother to the police when he has the kids in the car? That’s what “arrest” means- stopping something that is happening. Hard for your family to stay in denial after a police report.

      Yes agencies are Mandated Reporters, and this is a good thing. I agree with you that groups like Al-Anon can be an outlet- and someone can likely recommend real agencies that can help you, or make the calls I outlined above. Remember that Al-Anon aren’t professionals, though, and experience doesn’t equal training. They’re working their own program. That’s why I’ve listed it last.

      You must continue to recover your health. I’m hoping you are one phone call away from getting the attention of the right people. I’ve also called CPS on someone who was off their meds. They told me of their plan to ambush and abuse two children under ten years old, after my therapist shrugged his responsibility off. This CPS took immediate action. (I’m going to report that criminal therapist too.) –I’m sending solidarity your way.

      1. Thank you, for all of this. I never thought to try to delegate out some of this to someone else, to talk to CPS and such. That would help a lot because I just don’t have the brainpower to make any phone calls right now, not even ones I need to for myself (my January disability payment hasn’t happened, so that means they screwed it up again and I’m back into overdraft).

        Several months ago, I told him that the next time I saw his drug dealer at the house I was calling the police on him, so at least that guy isn’t around anymore. I think that’s what I need to do if he winds up in a situation where he’s driving without carseats and/or under the influence. My family already hates me, I’m not sure how much more they can, and these kids… I’d die for these kids. I’ve been caring for them for their entire lives, from the NICU on.

        (My brother wouldn’t agree, and wouldn’t ask for help — he’s really good at convincing himself of things, so if he decided kids don’t really need carseats, nothing would EVER convince him otherwise. It’s terrifying how, instead of caring, he just does what he wants and will be shocked if something were to happen.)

        I didn’t even think of the fact that CPS isn’t doing their job. My doctor was shocked that they didn’t follow up further, and that should have clued me in — I think I was just so relieved at the time that nothing had further exploded I didn’t pursue it.

        We have changed things so that my brother won’t be alone with the kids overnight anymore, and one of us is always going to be in the house when the kids are here.

        He missed Christmas. The kids were absolutely crushed. No one else was terribly surprised, just disappointed.

        1. You’re an exceptional person. With all that you are dealing with, yet you are supporting those babies-? Thank you thank you.
          PS The number for SSI help is 1-800-772-1213, and/or there should be some info leading to assistance on your payment stub. Wishing you health.

      2. My last paragraph’s incomplete. The “they told me of their plan” was referring to the person off their meds.

        When I’d located and called CPS in the home state of this family (cross-country from me) CPS snapped into getting info from me.
        I could tell CPS was using a standard risk-assessment form: “Does this person live in the same house as the children” “Are there meds the person should be taking and isn’t.” Yes, yes. And then I sent the CPS agent the texts where the person was boasting that they were planning to “go after” the children.

    6. CPS may need to be repeatedly called in order for them to actually take action. It’s good that they were contacted even if they didn’t immediately do anything — it may take multiple reports of neglect for them to actually act, and now the next time someone reports that the kids are being “watched” by someone drunk or are in the car without car seats, there will be a record of past problems already in the system. Every bit helps.

      I would really encourage you to go ahead and talk to your doctors; yes, they’re mandatory reporters, but if they report that the kids are being neglected by your brother, that’s a good thing. It’s one step toward someone actually intervening to change things.

    7. Anontoday. Please call CPS and then call CPS again and keep calling them until they do their jobs and those kids are safe. If you can delegate that to someone else then fine but it needs to be done. If you can’t find a way then no one will.

      Jedi hugs for you if hugs will help.

  28. This is my first Christmas without my mom, and I had no idea, even having already lost my dad over a decade and a half ago, and my older brother three years ago, and the older of my two dogs two weeks ago, that it would feel quite this empty. I’m not even sad so much as just very, very tired with no task to do or distraction to pull myself out of it. But tomorrow I’ll be planting a winter garden for friends who are out of town to come back to in the new year, and after that the work week starts up again; hopefully that will keep the tiredness at bay for a while longer.

  29. My 92-year-old mother started hospice care a couple of weeks ago (congestive heart failure and kidney failure getting worse, plus finally getting diagnosed with the dementia that’s been creeping up for a couple of years now). Nobody thinks she’ll be around more than a few more weeks. I’m 2000 miles away, and no, I’m not going to go see her before she’s gone. I have a lot of complex reasons and a lot of guilt around this, but, to quote a phrase I actually hate with the passion of a thousand burning suns, it is what it is.

    I am estranged from my two oldest sisters, and my third sister and I are only in contact because she’s the one who lives near my mother, and she’s been making what I consider to be a heroic effort to keep the rest of us in the loop. I seriously doubt any of us will maintain any sort of contact with each other after my mother is gone.

    The thing is? Really petty and I know it. My dad died on Easter Sunday 23 years ago, three days after my birthday. Kind of ruined both of those dates for me. And now I would not be in the least surprised to get a phone call tomorrow (Christmas Day) from my sister telling me that my mother is gone. Oh, and when I said something to this effect to my sister? Just in passing? I got told I needed to get over it.

    I’m sorry. I know it’s petty. But, again with that horrible phrase. It is what it is. This is how I feel. And there’s nothing quite like spending the Christmas season waiting to hear that your mother has died.

    1. I have a lot of complex reasons and a lot of guilt around this

      In hopes that it helps, this internet stranger believes that you have good reasons that you have thought about carefully. I cut off contact with my mother years ago and I still have a lot of feelings about it. Intellectually I know that’s on her, we would maybe have some sort of relationship if the price of having one wasn’t pretending that my entire childhood didn’t happen, but I’m also pretty sure she’s so deep in denial that she doesn’t consciously understand why she doesn’t even have her daughter’s mailing address.

      And you know, it sounds pretty reasonable to worry that another holiday/occasion is going to be ruined for you. I think there’s a big difference between “first holiday without ___” and “oh joy, it’s a time of year I’m expected to be cheerful and it’s also the anniversary of ___’s death, this will definitely not suck.”

    2. I don’t think that’s petty at all. My immediate family’s birthdays all happen within three weeks of each other. My FIL went into hospice just before birthday season the year he died, and I spent a whole lot of time thinking “please don’t die on one of the kids’ birthdays, please don’t die on one of the kids’ birthdays…” and feeling rotten about it. When I confessed that to my MIL a few years later, she just smiled and said she’s certain that’s why FIL hung on so long in hospice- he was thinking the exact same thing. Wanting holidays to be unshadowed is perfectly understandable.

  30. I’ll start by saying that overall, I’m OK compared to what I’m usually like at this time of year. But I can feel the Awfulness lurking in the background, trying to claw its way in. Husband’s mood is declining slightly and I’m trying not to let it bother me. This usually happens. He doesn’t do the holidays well.
    This year, I totally ignored Christmas. Didn’t go shopping (I’m giving the niece and nephews $$), my siblings and I got my mom a TV (which I hope she doesn’t accept ungraciously; she’s been known to do that in the past), hardly sent any cards. Didn’t listen to any carols. I felt a bit sorry for the BFF (who’s been incognito the last few days), ’cause she posted on Facebook “So much to do and so little time to do it!” Then I thought, “Oh, freaking spare me…you CHOOSE to celebrate this way.” Maybe I sound like a witch but really, what is all the damn fuss about? It’s like a wedding. It’ll be over in one day. This is the best I can do after nearly 30 years of freaking out Every Single Christmas, having meltdowns, screaming fights with the spouse, marathon food-making sessions (we bought cookies this year). No. I am so over it.

    Got a little miffed the other day when my well-meaning uncle busted my ass a little on FB. I posted about just finishing watching Season One of “True Detective” on DVD, and how much I loved it, and he goes, “You should be watching Christmas shows!” I’m 52 years old. I’ll watch whatever I goddamn well please at this time of year.

    Truthfully, though, I just want it to be Monday.

  31. I’m 38 and I just watched White Christmas alone. Usually watch it with whichever parent I’m with but the roads are so bad I’m staying at home. I think it would bore my husband and it is a family thing. I don’t have many family things. The other one is respecting good Mexican food when you can get it in the wilds of Montana.
    I’ve become a barometer since the development of autoimmune issues; the pressure hurts so badly I want to cry.
    I’m getting the traditional Christmas cold.

    1. FelineGlorificus? I don’t know where you are in Montana, but one of the best Mexican restaurants I’ve ever been in anywhere is in the tiny hamlet of Loma, between Fort Benton and Havre. Sending you Jedi hugs, too.

  32. I feel so guilty and responsible for things I shouldn’t. Basically like normal, just with the added “it’s Christmas, I should be happy” added in.

  33. HOLIDAY SINGLES THREAD a.k.a. Coping With Extreme Loneliness This Christmas (Even When Surrounded By People).

    I can’t this year. I couldn’t last year either, but this year is even worse, since I’m among even more family this time around. It’s been 15 months since my ex broke up with me and I’m just as devastated as I was on day one. However now I’m struggling equally as much with the loss as I am with feeling completely pathetic for not being able to just “get over it”. No one seems to understand why I can’t either, considering our relationship lasted only a paltry 4 (wonderful) months – but despite having a half dozen LTR’s prior, this person was the first I’ve truly wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I knew I did right away. And they did too. Or so they said. Plans were made to move in together. Baby names decided upon. Our mutual friends that set us up were overjoyed – and so were we. It all seemed too good to be true. And sadly it was. My (at the time undiagnosed) Depression and PTSD began to rear its ugly head, my ex couldn’t deal, and ended the relationship. I’ve been in a downward spiral ever since. 

I’m in therapy now (primarily to deal with this loss, but also to address the clinical depression and childhood trauma), on meds (which are helping to the extent that it is curbing suicidal ideation, and I can get out of bed now, but I wouldn’t describe myself as anywhere near happy or even OK), getting regular exercise, focusing on hobbies, and socializing as much as I can force myself to – in other words I’ve been doing everything suggested to me to “get over” someone and focus on myself and none of it is working. I still cry at the drop of a hat. I’m in my late 30’s and I’m the ONLY family member of a very large family that’s over the age of 21 and isn’t married with kids – and it’s not for lack of hoping and trying. I’ve wanted a family of my own for as long as I can remember and was over the moon that The One had finally come along. Top it off with the fact that I’m a recovering alcoholic and I’m the only one not drinking at the family Christmas Eve gathering. My family love me, and are proud of me insomuch as I’m still alive at this point, but to say I feel like the outcast would be an understatement. Their love for me in no way replicates the love I had. That sounds awful and unappreciative, but it’s the truth. It’s not the same.

    To make matters worse this person has flourished in my absence, while I feel like a complete and total failure. In theory I know I shouldn’t be basing my self-worth on whether or not I have a partner, and children, and a house, and everything else all my (small pool of) friends and (massive pool) of family all have – but I am unbearably lonely, lost, and overwhelmed without this person in my life and with the lack of a prospective future resembling anything I’ve been dreaming of forever. My greatest fear is that this person will a) never be in my life again, b) I’ll never again meet another person like them, and thus c) never be happy and d) die alone.

I just… I don’t know what to do anymore. The pain won’t go away. The only thing keeping me going at this point is the .001% change I will run into them again someday.

    1. Idk, 15 months isn’t a long time. It’s basically just a year. I think most people would need at LEAST that long to get over a potential-life-partner-level relationship ending (self included). And it sounds like you are proactively doing all the right things in the meantime — therapy, exercise, hobbies, etc. PLUS you have stayed sober through it all and are battling mental illness. You’re kind of my hero, tbh. Sounds like you are beating yourself up for things you should actually be patting yourself on the back for.

      And just my two cents, but if this guy/girl couldn’t support you through a mental health crisis, they probably would not have made a very good partner for you in the long run at all.

      1. > if this guy/girl couldn’t support you through a mental health crisis, they probably would not have made a very good partner for you in the long run at all <

        I know this because that's also what everyone keeps saying… therapist included. But I don't find much relief in that fact. It doesn't feel that way and Ive tried convincing myself that I'm better off but to no avail. Not even close. Ex had other stuff going on at the time too – impending back surgery to fix an old running injury, starting a business, etc and was (in their words, the last time we talked 10 months ago) "overwhelmed helping you through a difficult time while trying to deal with my own stuff too" and chalked up the demise of our relationship to "bad timing." Which is so much worse to hear than anything else because there's an implication that maybe *someday* there WILL be a good/better time. Meanwhile it's been complete radio silence. So who knows when or even IF that time might ever come. And now I can't not…. wait.

        I almost wish there was some fatal relationship error at play that would eliminate any sense of hope. But there's not. They maybe didn't mean it this way but it feels like they're dangling a carrot in front of me. Seemed like a very non-committal answer at best or just trying to let me down easy at worst but either way now I've got a death grip on that little sliver of hope and I just CAN. NOT. LET. IT. GO.

        Thank you for your kind words though. You may be right but I'm not really feeling the whole back-patting myself thing for losing the love of my life. I failed, plain and simple. No success story here.

        1. When someone ends a relationship and chalks it up to “bad timing” it’s usually a polite fiction – one they themselves may even believe! But when we truly, deeply want something with all our heart and no reservations, timing stops being an issue. We move heaven and earth and go beyond what we thought we were capable of to make that thing happen.

          Someone who was “overwhelmed” but truly wanted to make it work would have said so, could have asked you to put relationship things on hold until that “better time” came along. Could have said and done any number of things except complete radio silence. To me, that says they were overwhelmed and realized this wasn’t a situation they could commit to long-term, and chalked it up to poor timing because they couldn’t or wouldn’t say the truth.

          There was no fatal relationship error. Only you being yourself. And your ex being zir self. And your two selves not fitting together, not quite. Because you don’t just need love, but also understanding of what makes each other tick, and a reasonable mesh of what one person needs and the other is able to give (and vice versa). When all three of those come together, taking care of each other in bad times is far less exhausting, and even though it’s work, it’s work you WANT to do and are glad you did. But when one person in the partnership doesn’t understand their partner’s needs, or sees the needs and isn’t able to meet them . . . it becomes utterly exhausting and can turn toxic if left unchecked. And it’s no one’s fault.

          I am so, so sorry that it didn’t work out. It sounds like the parts that were good were exquisite. The pressure to partner up, even when unspoken, is crushing, and I’m sorry that weight is on you. But please know it’s not your fault.

          1. +1 to bad timing being just polite for “not going to happen”. It sounds like you’ve convinced yourself that you needed to wait for this person to change their mind. But it’s highly unlikely they would. And even if they did all the conditions for the breakup are still there. So, dear LW, try to consider this lonely /crowded Christmas the time where you realize that you are alone indeed, not just waiting. Life will go on better that way… And you won’t die quite alone if you’re surrounded by packs of lovely nieces and nephews!

          2. Someone once told me I was “right girl, wrong time” and I wasted two years of my life waiting for the right time only to realise there would never be the right time and even if I were the right girl he was the wrong guy. Waiting for someone who’s dumped you with a vague “maybe sometime” is never going to work out for you.

            I’m so sorry for your loss of this wonderful relationship. I know it hurts so much.

    2. Hello other me! Yep, your story certainly sounds familiar, right down to the length of time you were dating. I’m sending you a giant hug and a massive amount of empathy. Here’s to us in 2017.

  34. This is the first time I’m not spending Christmas with my parents – instead, my husband and I are hosting his family for Christmas/Chrismukkah. I was a little nervous because sometimes my MIL can be a handful but feeling mostly okay. But oh my god what a shitshow.

    My brother-in-law arrived Thursday, a day before my husband’s parents, and he’s been a surly, rude, entitle jerk since he got here. We’ve paid for meals out and whatnot for him and he hasn’t so much as said thank you. He steers every conversation toward politics. He gave me detailed criticisms of what he felt was wrong with the chocolate chip cookies I made using my beloved, dead grandmother’s recipe.

    I thought that the arrival of my parents-in-law would help, because it wouldn’t be all intense one-on-one (well, two-on-one, my husband and me) hanging out with Surly Brother-in-Law anymore. But we went wine tasting this afternoon and once everyone was good and tipsy MIL and Brother-in-Law got into a nasty argument about politics and various family members that culminated in MIL calling someone white trash, a term which I find very offensive. Things have just… continued to deteriorate from there. MIL at one point called a cab to the airport and insisted she was leaving because “why should she spend Christmas with people who hate her” (this apparently including me, because I asked her rather heatedly to NEVER use the phrase white trash in my hearing again – part of me feels like I should apologize, but really, what would I be apologizing for, asking her not to use offensive language?????).

    Made it through dinner, but then MIL immediately insisted on going to bed. No opening presents tonight, I guess (family is partly Jewish so normally we’d be opening gifts for Hanukkah).

    1. Phew, what a mess for you, I’m sorry!

      So, this isn’t a group that enjoys meals out and shouldn’t be combined with alcohol. Or maybe should be visited with outside of a holiday that you love?

      It sounds like you’re doing all the physical and emotional work, and that that’s not the case when you visit your family. Where is your husband in all of this melee? What does he think or want to do for future events, or with his (brother?)

  35. My mom died at the first of July, after having been ill for 5 years. We did Thanksgiving with my dad, the first major holiday without her, as well as their 53rd wedding anniversary. I couldn’t handle the thought of spending Christmas with him, so it is good that he’s spending it with my brother’s family.

    We used to watch White Christmas and Holiday Inn on Christmas Eve. Then my husband’s parents died several years ago, and he can’t bear to watch them. (His parents were of the WWII generation.)

    All the things that used to bring me joy at the holidays feel like they are gone.

  36. Yesterday Friend A got upset with me because I told Friend B that threatening or insinuating that you will kill yourself if your partner leaves you is emotional abuse. (Friend B is already planning to leave her relationship and mentioned this as a thing her partner, a man with two young children, has done.) Friend A accused me of “black and white thinking” and “demonizing” the partner because “there are extenuating circumstances” and “he didn’t do it maliciously”. I know that Friend A has mental health struggles; I strongly suspect this is a tactic she has used herself in unhealthy past relationships. I said I was sorry I had hurt her, but did not walk back the statement, having been in a relationship where a partner used similar tactics to manipulate me. Now I feel shitty and I think Friend A is probably still upset with me but won’t want to talk it out because our small, tight-knit social group has just launched a new project together. Yeeeup.

    1. For what it’s worth from a stranger, you are 100% right and the fact that the line between abuser and abuse victim can so often get tangled up within a single person doesn’t make you less right. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this 😦

    2. FWIW, I used that craptactic on someone, I’d seen my mother use it, it sure as peaches is emotional abuse, as you know. I’ve benched myself and did an informal People School via internet to knock my abusive crap off before I endangered myself or someone else. It was three years before I felt I could use my new skills to regulate myself.
      You didn’t mention what Friend B’s reaction was, and they were the person you were talking to. Friend A sure lit up, by your account here, and their (mis)use of some modes does point to something up with them. How is Friend A “hurt” by a conversation whose subject is someone else? So, is this topic a conversation best held privately with Friend B?

      1. We were in a small group and we were all sort of trying to support B as she talked about why she is planning to break up with her partner; Friend C said, “How do you think he’ll react?”, and B said, “Well, according to him kill himself.” (She said this in a way that indicated she didn’t think this would really happen, or at least was so done with his shit that she thought that was not her problem.) I said something like “Holy abusive behavior, Batman!” and A went on the defensive.

        1. Ah. Well, there’s a hierarchy of Thoughts to Words to Actions. The method I use is to think -I’m an airport and all threats of self-harm are a bomb threat. No joking. I’ve now experienced several people suicide. People joke about their truths.

          When a co-worker with young kids told me that she’d barely made it through the night, and that she couldn’t go on, I called HR as an emergency.
          When a miles-away relative of mine was spinning down in the aftermath of the sudden death of their partner, refusing to go to a hospital or call their doctor and wasn’t making sense, I called a Sheriff in their area- though man, those people need more training. I did get a Deputy to go make a Wellness Check on the fam member. Though with what the Captain has posted recently about that putting some people in harm’s way, I wouldn’t do it again as a first choice.

          A suicide hotline will have local, resource-specific suggestions. IMHO, Friend B is right to get loud about the problem, and make sure people in Former Partner of Friend B’s circle are alerted. That way Friend B can get free to live their own life.

  37. On August 1st this year, I couldn’t stop vomiting and had a persistent neckache and headache for weeks. I rang an ambulance and woke up in hospital two days later, incoherent and rambling, facing brain surgery to remove a massive tumor that was pressing on my brain stem.

    On August 5, as I was recovering from surgery received the diagnosis – terminal brain cancer. On the same day, my mother finally told me beloved cat, Stella, died while I was in surgery. I was originally given 3-6 months to live. Now, my tumor has been tested and I’m genetically well disposed to radiation and chemo (the term they used was MGMT Methylated), so I have been given maybe 18 months – 2 years (after a second surgery on August 7, to remove more tumors). It’s not an exaggeration to say it was the worst week of my life.

    In an instant, life as I knew it was over. I had a terrible childhood (divorce, abusive step-parent, etc), that screwed me over well into my 20s and 30s. After much therapy and working on myself, I finally emerged in my forties with a great career, lots of friends and a better relationship than ever with my family. Now, at 47, I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that I’m going to die.

    It’s so unfair! My life is ruled by Oncology appts, chemo, radiation, etc. I try not to feel too sorry for myself, but today is Christmas Day, and I’m lying in bed in agony, as the last round of chemo has given me horrible nausea and stomach cramps. I’m trying to summon up the energy to visit my sister, as I’ve already had to cancel lunch with friends and several pre-christmas functions.

    On the positive side, my family and friends have been amazing, my local hospital is the best neuro-trauma hospital in the country and the services available to the terminally ill in this country (Australia) are incredible.

    Akwardeers, you and the Captain have been part of my growth towards the woman I’ve become. I want to thank you all for sharing your wisdom and trials over the years, you don’t know how much it’s meant.

    Captain, I don’t know if you allow links to image hosting site, if not, please accept my apologies and remove at your discretion, but I’ve added some photos of me before and after my diagnosis:

    I wish all the Awkwardeers who are struggling this season all the best. You deserve it.

    1. This internet stranger’s heart goes out to you. I’m sending you hugs from across the world.

    2. I’m so sorry, RedCat. I’m glad to learn you are loved and well-cared for. Your photos are profoundly moving.

    3. I wish you get to enjoy things during the time you have left. I feel for your situation, depression took my teens and 20’s from me and I’m just starting my life anew at 31.

      P.s. Axel seems great 🙂

  38. My brother drowned in July and it feels like I lost my parents as well as they are neck deep in grief. Just practicing a lot of self care and white knuckling it through these holidays and hoping for a brighter 2017.

    1. My young-adult SIL died some years ago in November. The first holidays are awful and surreal, the next few years are a bitch, and then, hopefully, it becomes less terrible. I wish you and your family a grief that at least some of the time feels uniting, that you may come back to each other and the world.

    2. I’m so sorry for your loss, LadyDi.
      The website “What’s Your Grief?” whatsyourgrief.com has helped me deal, while I’m alone with my ghosts.

  39. I was fired from a job I liked in April, have been flat on my ass with depression since then. Physically I’m in terrible shape. I’ve come down with a head cold the last couple of days. Job prospects aren’t looking good, so I’ll probably be homeless before too long. My family doesn’t care and won’t help, especially since I have cats.

    1. Malia, I’m so sorry this happened to you. When my depression is raging, my brain is a car with a flat tire. I hope it’s OK to offer suggestions.
      Can you talk with your landlord about doing some work for them in exchange for rent? Painting, cleaning, helping file or answer phones in their offices, show apts to prospective tenants. Maybe they have more than one property… Would they waive a month’s rent, let you pay a discounted rent? I worked for a company writing lease agreements, and I wasn’t a licensed RE agent.

      List with all of the temp agencies. Make a friend at an agent at each place, call for work at their earliest accepted time every day, and knock the job out of the park with your skills. Talk to a person at each job and let them know you are available for FT work. Most every temp job I’ve had was so happy to have a prospect whose work they’d seen, that I had job offers to select from. January is when some companies are planning their next quarters, and you appearing may be just the person they need. Your new friends at the temp agency that sent you will be very happy to get a fat commission if you’re converted to a permanent hire.

      Get loud about being a valuable worker who needs a new position, wherever you have an opportunity. Social media, your friends, etc.
      Do your friends know how urgent the situation is? Does your current doctor? Can you task yourself with finding a medical resource to find out if meds will help you climb back out? There’s often one number to call to find out what city resources are out there. In my city it’s 211.

      Ask your vet about options for kitteh care, so they don’t fall behind on vaccinations. See if they have a program to waive the cost to chip them, if that’s not yet done.

      Baby steps. Jedi hugs if you want them.

      1. PS If you’ve got a deposit or last month’s rent on deposit, see if they’ll let you use it now for rent. Also, try to negotiate with the LL in person.

  40. We’re at my MIL’s. When we were here for Christmas two years ago (we alternate with my family), we had to sleep in the basement because she was renovating her bedroom so she was sleeping in the guest room. This year the guest room, at the top of the steep stairs, has no door and the bathroom has been dismantled for renovations. As has the bathroom in the basement. We have a potty-training 2-year-old prone to wandering into the rest of the apartment when he wakes up, and it’s usually the sound of the door opening that wakes me up. My MIL did not understand why this arrangement was a problem. She figured we could just come into her bedroom and use her bathroom during the night if needed. My husband insisted on moving the bed to the basement, where he can get the toilet hooked up in the next couple days and where there is less chance of the toddler falling down the wooden steps. Also my husband had asked her to buy a baby gate but she ordered it online and it won’t come till Monday or Tuesday. My MIL was upset that she’d gone to all this trouble to clean the guest room and we weren’t even going to use it.

    This was in the first five minutes.

    Then my MIL’s boyfriend came over with his three kids. My husband is the small-talk expert so he made conversation with everyone during dinner (a dinner consisting mostly of things I could not eat plus things my son cannot eat). This left me solely responsible for our son, who kept climbing in and out of his chair because my MIL also decided she didn’t need to own a high chair. (I should mention we flew cross country, so there’s only so much we could bring, plus we got up at 3 a.m. today.) My MIL’s boyfriend was also SUPER overzealous to make friends with our son, which was very overwhelming to him when he was already exhausted.

    Now my husband has come down with some kind of illness, so that just makes everything so much better.

    Here’s hoping things start looking up soon. We’re here for a week.

    1. Oh, I am so with you. Me and hubby are spending the week w my parents. She has dementia and has medical issues. She wants me to clean her house, but insists I can’t take anything outside. She constantly com plains about her two other kids that haven’t visited. We’re here till friday. I’m about to lose my freaking mind. I totally feel for you and every morning I just count down the days until we leave.

    2. Things have unfortunately not gotten any better. My husband is totally knocked out with the flu or pneumonia or something. I spent Christmas morning — starting when my toddler got up at 6:30 a.m. — cleaning the house (my MIL told us not to worry about the mess on Christmas Eve, which apparently meant she planned to leave for work the next day without touching any of the dirty dishes or clearing any floor space) and then chasing my toddler around by myself until naptime. My MIL had not bought any food in preparation for our arrival except for the stuff she made for Christmas Eve dinner — the fridge is full of cookies and condiments, a bunch of which I tossed because they had expired months ago. She had a couple of instant meals, all with meat (I’m vegetarian), oatmeal, crackers, and peanut butter. Thankfully we spent Christmas night at my FIL’s girlfriend’s house, where we got a decent dinner and breakfast. Well, except my FIL forgot I’m lactose intolerant, made me scrambled eggs with milk, and I spent the whole afternoon vomiting. Then I had peanut butter and crackers for dinner. My FIL took our son for the night, which was a huge help. Today my MIL and her boyfriend tried to entertain my son and kept him up way past his naptime so that he was exhausted and having a complete meltdown by the time my husband and I wrestled him into bed and got him to sleep. He woke up cranky and my MIL’s boyfriend, who has apparently decided that the way to our hearts is becoming BFFs with our son, kept getting up in his face while I was trying to calm him down and being like, “DO YOU WANT TO PLAY WITH THE AIRPLANE I BOUGHT YOU? DO YOU WANT TO SEE MICKEY MOUSE ON MY SHIRT?” which did nothing but annoy the ever-loving shit out of me AND my toddler. Then my MIL finally realized for the first time in four days that she had no food in the house, but she and her boyfriend were going out for dinner, so she was like, “There’s… a cucumber? And some carrots? And… some oatmeal?” Normally I would have been like, “It’s fine, we’ll find something,” but I was so annoyed I just kept a neutral expression and kept saying, “Mmm… uh-huh…” until she started suggesting nearby restaurants we could go to, like my bedridden husband was going to want to drag himself out for that. They ended up taking my son to the zoo and my husband (who didn’t have the energy to deal with Boyfriend and was waiting for him to leave) finally got up and took a shower and drove me to the nearest grocery store so I could buy us some supplies.

      My husband’s plans to put the bathroom back together were obviously derailed by him being too tired to move, so we still just have the one functioning bathroom, a flight up from where we’re sleeping, but it’s still better than sleeping in a room with no door. Oh, and it turned out my MIL did not order a baby gate like we thought, she just said she needs to go out and buy one. It’s already Tuesday so I’m not banking on that happening anytime soon. Also we were supposed to go to Boyfriend’s house for dinner one night, but it turned out what we were being invited over for was some leftover stew he had that has turkey sausage in it, but the chunks are big so I “can just pick it out, right?”

      1. Day 5: My MIL’s furnace broke. My husband went out at 4am to get a space heater, which we’ve been carrying from room to room. I woke up with a bad head cold. This whole week feels like a cosmic joke.

        1. Holy mackerl. The furnace at my parents home is still working, but my mom (and her dementia) has been coughing since we arrived. She said she had bronchitis, but failed to mention that she had not seen the doctor. So yesterday I took her in for the diagnosis and antibiotics. Too late for us, my husband and I just woke up with symptoms. We go home tomorrow pm. I can’t wait. I also can’t imagine going through this level of crazy with a small child. I keep telling myself that we’re somehow going to see some great karma in the future for surviving this week. Stay strong, it’ll all be over soon.

    3. Things have unfortunately not gotten any better. My husband is totally knocked out with the flu or pneumonia or something. I spent Christmas morning — starting when my toddler got up at 6:30 a.m. — cleaning the house (my MIL told us not to worry about the mess on Christmas Eve, which apparently meant she planned to leave for work the next day without touching any of the dirty dishes or clearing any floor space) and then chasing my toddler around by myself until naptime. My MIL had not bought any food in preparation for our arrival except for the stuff she made for Christmas Eve dinner — the fridge is full of a dozen kinds of cookies and condiments, a bunch of which I tossed because they had expired months ago. She had a couple of instant meals, all with meat (I’m vegetarian), oatmeal, crackers, and peanut butter. Thankfully we spent Christmas night at my FIL’s girlfriend’s house, where we got a decent dinner and breakfast. Well, except my FIL forgot I’m lactose intolerant, made me scrambled eggs with milk, and I spent the whole afternoon vomiting. Then I had peanut butter and crackers for dinner. My FIL took our son for the night, which was a huge help. Today my MIL and her boyfriend tried to entertain my son and kept him up way past his naptime so that he was exhausted and having a complete meltdown by the time my husband and I wrestled him into bed and got him to sleep. He woke up cranky and my MIL’s boyfriend, who has apparently decided that the way to our hearts is becoming BFFs with our son, kept getting up in his face while I was trying to calm him down and being like, “DO YOU WANT TO PLAY WITH THE AIRPLANE I BOUGHT YOU? DO YOU WANT TO SEE MICKEY MOUSE ON MY SHIRT?” which did nothing but annoy the ever-loving shit out of me AND my toddler. Then my MIL finally realized for the first time in four days that she had no food in the house, but she and her boyfriend were going out for dinner, so she was like, “There’s… a cucumber? And some carrots? And… some oatmeal?” Normally I would have been like, “It’s fine, we’ll find something,” but I was so annoyed I just kept a neutral expression and kept saying, “Mmm… uh-huh…” until she started suggesting nearby restaurants we could go to, like my bedridden husband was going to want to drag himself out for that. They ended up taking my son to the zoo and my husband (who didn’t have the energy to deal with Boyfriend and was waiting for him to leave) finally got up and took a shower and drove me to the nearest grocery store so I could buy us some supplies.

      My husband’s plans to put the bathroom back together were obviously derailed by him being too tired to move, so we still just have the one functioning bathroom, a flight up from where we’re sleeping, but it’s still better than sleeping in a room with no door. Oh, and it turned out my MIL did not order a baby gate like we thought, she just said she needs to go out and buy one. It’s already Tuesday so I’m not banking on that happening anytime soon. Also we were supposed to go to Boyfriend’s house for dinner one night, but it turned out what we were being invited over for was some leftover stew he had that has turkey sausage in it, but the chunks are big so I can “just pick it out, right?”

  41. The short but intense relationship I had started, and was so excited and happy about, ended earlier this month. Out of the blue. I normally adore Christmas, but I’m just so sad and raw this year. We’d only been dating for a few months, but this particular break up has hit me like a tonne of bricks. It was a difficult talk for both of us, but it left me so confused: I honestly don’t know if they left because they weren’t able to be in a serious relationship right now (due to very good reasons that I rationally understand), or because I just wasn’t the right person for him. And since I don’t know my brain keeps creating fantasies where we end up together again because We Are Meant To Be. And then I berate myself for even going down that path.

    I gave so much of myself emotionally and physically, and they absorbed it like a sponge. I was the first person they’d seriously dated after a long, unfulfilling relationship and then traumatic break up, and I think I mistook intimacy for therapy. They got all the cuddles, the compassion, fantastic sex, long talks, fun dates. They had so much to say and issues to work through, and man am I ever a great listener. And while I don’t regret any of it, I feel so empty inside.

    Where is my person? Where is the partner I get to love and who loves me back? Why do I have to show up to yet another Christmas dinner alone, the only single sibling/cousin. I know I’m not getting any younger, and that my single income doesn’t stretch very far, and yes I know how to date myself and love myself and I put myself out there and meet new people and I’ve joined all the sports teams etc. A very long time ago someone told me they loved me, and they meant it. God I want to hear that again, and to be able to say it back.

    1. Are you me? Ugh I can so totally relate to this (my own post is above this one if you scroll up)

      You get all the empathies from me right now. It really really really sucks.

  42. So, I have no traumatic stories or experiences to make me hate the holidays….I just hate the holidays. I’m not christian, so any spiritual connection is moot. The whole gift giving puzzle game is no fun. Up until now I had to balance two crappy holiday events and work into one day. Now I almost regret not having the job bc it was a great reason to gtfo. I have considered in the future pretending I am out of town for work to avoid all the hassle.

    1. Husband and I have difficult famlies. Good news is that they live in different states. Next year we are telling them that we are visiting the other family and staying home and keeping our heads underground. I hate the holidays, it’s so incredibly stressful.

      Maybe there’s “an out of town friend” that you must visit? Although an urgent work issue might work well too.

  43. I’m opting out of Christmas this year, but still haven’t told my family. I’ve been trying to write an email for about an hour, but I can’t decide if I should give some explanation or just say I’m not coming. I’ve struggled with depression for over 20 years, but since last spring it has been ten times worse than in the past. I only told my family about this a couple of years ago, so they’re still trying to understand it, especially my parents. I know they’re worried, but I just don’t have the energy to deal with their worry right now.

  44. Three of my four grandparents died in November/December and the fourth’s eventually terminal illness began in the week before it. Now one of my other relatives is dying (fairly young, with a young family) of an illness that only emerged midyear. Many of my family have gathered wth them for Christmas; those of us with very young children haven’t due to the energy needed to have the children around being too much for the most affected.

    I’m not mad about not being part of that Christmas, there’s a bunch of reasons I won’t go into why it makes sense to me. It’s just an increasingly sad time of year. Adulting is increasingly tough.

  45. I am a man who’s has become progressively blind over the past few years. My kidneys have gone out and I;m on the edge of dialysis. I was in my first relationship this year, the first of my adult life (yes, pathetic, but I am asexual so it makes sense) and then lost it at the beginning of the month. I just don;t have the spoons for this holiday shit this year. i have been on the edge of tears all month. Maybe the darkness of the long nights gets to me, or maybe I feel like I;d be better off dead. I just want spring to come, maybe that will help. Blech.

    1. Seasonal Affective Disorder is indeed a thing, and I seem to remember reading or hearing somewhere that it’s worse in vision-challenged or blind people (now if only I could remember the ~particulars~…) So I offer you Jedi hugs, mate, and the most fervent hopes that when spring rolls around, you can find those missing spoons under all the now-melted snow.

    2. Blind Ace, I’m thrilled that you experienced a relationship this year. It’s not pathetic that it’s the first in your adult life; you were very brave to get involved. Be proud of yourself! As with the end of any important relationship, it will take time to mourn its loss but you are stronger for having taken a risk. Good for you!

  46. I love my family immensely, and we’re on a Christmas vacation right now. It’s very exciting and fun. But recently I’ve been in therapy processing darker and more abusive and traumatic aspects of my childhood, so I’m having complex feelings about everything. Family vacations are a little stressful in the best of times, and this is not the best of times.

    I’m also realizing that my relationship with my boyfriend is falling apart and it’s partially because of my mental health issues right now. Handling this trauma makes me want to be alone and not talk to people, and so I’m pushing him away, which is triggering abandonment fears in him. To deal with these feelings he wants to be ever-closer to me, which freaks me out because of the trauma issues. But part of the reason I’m not opening up to him about my issues is in the past when I tried to tell him a little about it, he made it about himself and his own reaction and I ended up comforting him. That left me feeling a lot of distance. So we’re spiraling down and I’m just … not that motivated to salvage it. Part of me feels like I’m making a huge mistake, part of me is angry at him for not having the skills to support me through this, part of me misses him.

    I’m going to be SO lonely once he and I are officially done. So lonely I feel panicky just thinking about it. I don’t have a lot of friends and I’m socially awkward and shy and anxious. But I think maybe this will be a time during which I can grow.

    Ugh, this is hard. Reading this thread feels like amazing community though. Sending love and solidarity to everyone on this thread, and I’m so glad it is here. I love the Captain Awkward community.

  47. So mine is not the worst out there, just embarrassing and annoying. I started the Holidays with a checklist and commitments to keep, and I finally dug my way out of autistic shutdown like three days ago. The amount of crow I have had to eat for things I left undone–

    Just a couple more things to get through before I can go crawl in a hole some more. Like Christmas morning. And Christmas dinner. And the party on the day after Christmas. It’s all stuff that belongs on the Celebration Station except for the part where I am just sore all over my mind and please, please world, stop asking me to emote or think.

    1. Well, it wasn’t….that bad. I walked in and a bunch of perfectly nice people were playing a racing game on a drop-down projection screen with the volume up, but they all know me and didn’t pick at me for going to sit in the host’s library by myself after laying out my potluck dish and saying hi to everyone. I still feel a bit like a half-done steak, but not entirely raw.

  48. I generally like Christmas and had a good morning but it is such an energy drain. When I went out for ice the temptation to keep on driving was very strong. Just to get out of the house, and move, and be alone for a moment. And my family are nice! I don’t really have anything to complain about.

  49. I am currently at home. Celebrating christmas with my family. I travelled 1700km to be with them, and my partner came with me. Yet here I am, coming to the realization that I no longer love him. We’re only going on 3 years together and had big plans for the future, but ever since I have been getting therapy, it’s been getting more and more clear that he is not who I painted him to be in my head. He is absolutely horrible for my mental health. So now instead of enjoying time with my mom and sibling. I get to stress about how to have this conversation with him, and try my best to dodge my emotionally abusive father.

    No rest for the wicked 😦

  50. I’m in my usual Christmas funk, only a little worse this year.

    I didn’t even get started on Christmas until Dec. 22, because I’m going full-time as Allison and spent the month running around changing my name and gender marker everywhere. The gov’t IDs were okay, you hand in the paperwork and eventually they come in the mail. Everybody else: voice menu hell, people who don’t know anything, and endless follow-ups. I’m officially Allison now, but it doesn’t feel any different from before. Just like today (Christmas) doesn’t feel any different from any other day.

    Meanwhile, my adult kids (who have been living with me in my small 2-bedroom apartment — with only one bathroom!) have no interest in helping me get Christmas going. No interest in a tree, no interest in stockings, not even much interest in presents. All the things that make Christmas special for me. (Well, there’s Christmas breakfast — with spoon bread — and dinner, but I gave up on that long ago.) Even my ex is frustrated.

    It’s funny. When I was a kid, Christmas was such a magical time, even though my life was absolute hell (e.g., years of suicidal ideation.) Now I’m doing well, surrounded by supportive people who actually like me, and it’s just bleh. (Bleh = one step worse than meh, one step better than yuk.)

    So it’s Christmas morning here, the time you’d expect kids to be up and wanting to open their presents, and the tree (artificial, this time 😦 ) still needs to have its wire branches spread out so I can decorate it. Presents (basically, whatever struck my fancy when I went through Walgreen’s yesterday) still unwrapped. The kids are at their mother’s (I’m “mom 2” now), which is both horribly lonely (my ducklings are gone!) and a relief.

    I think I’m just going to boycott Christmas next year. Claim unconscientious objector status.

  51. To quote my sister, noting that I was standing right in front of her at the time:

    “Let’s get some family Christmas photos! One of the four of us (her, her husband, and their two kids), and one with my parents!”

      1. You get used to it. For her, she was polite this year. Brother-in-law was doing his best to mitigate the results of his wife’s actions; he’s an awesome (totally not to my taste) guy 🙂

  52. tl;dr Actually, probably best to take that literally: too long, don’t read, too much.

    I think I am having the worst Christmas of my life. Out of my selection of 60, definitely the worst. Worse than the Christmas when I was 12 and still silently trying to put myself back together again after being molested and raped by a school guidance counsellor (like many kids, I kept it a secret).

    My deeply beloved husband was diagnosed with lung cancer last spring. Inoperable. But he did radiation and chemotherapy and in September, after follow up PET and CT scans, his oncologist said that he was probably in remission. Probably–he did make it clear that there was no way to be absolutely certain.

    On his follow up CT can earlier this month, there was an anomaly on his liver that was not present in any of the previous scans (he’s had so many scans plus the radiation therapy, we joke he should be his own night light). His oncologist thought it was probably just a cyst but wanted to take it to the tumour board (other oncologists, radiologists, etc) for a second opinion. The consensus was that it is so likely to be cancer that there is no point in putting him through a biopsy, just start him on chemo. Unfortunately, this news was delivered by phone (which was arranged ahead of time, his oncologist wasn’t being insensitive or anything like that) and my husband talked to him so I didn’t get a chance to grill him myself and find out the details. I’m the one with some medical knowledge and who knows what questions to ask (our family doctor says talking to me is “stimulating”).

    If I have figured it out correctly from the information my husband reported to me, my husband has a 1 in 3 chance of surviving for one year. A 3% chance of surviving 5 years. I don’t want to lose him ever and particularly not in less than a year from now. I also dread having to go into a care facility because I am too disabled to care for myself (been there once, never want to do it again).

    When he was diagnosed with lung cancer, my husband made the decision not to tell his family. They live over 2200 miles away and we see them literally once a decade. A few years ago, when my husband was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and told his family, his father had an enormous all-about-him guiltfest, that meant my husband had to comfort him. See, my husband started smoking when he was 15–at his father’s suggestion. My husband wanted to lose some weight, so his father convinced him to start smoking “just to lose the weight.” Yeah, it was a while ago but it was the 1970s and the Surgeon General report about cancer and cigarettes had come out more than 10 years before. His father even helped him by buying him 2 cartons a week. Thanks Dad.

    I never said a word about quitting smoking to my husband, I figured he knew as well as I did that it’s not a good thing and very few ever quit because someone bugged them about it. After many attempts, he managed to quit for good in 2006 (thank you Chantix!). I was relieved, knowing his risk of cancer would drop, even though I knew it would never drop as low as it would be if he had never smoked.

    I won’t go behind my husband’s back to tell his family, even though the worst part of my nature wants to have a chance to (finally) verbally flay his father. I’ve been cordial and polite to him for so many years and now all I can remember is every single time he’s said something or emailed something that made my husband flinch. I want to so bad but I won’t. My husband does not deserve for me to ignite the guiltfest all over again.

    Meanwhile, my husband says that what he wants is simply not to think about any of this until his next oncologist appointment (early January). He has the gift of living in the moment, which I can see but not emulate. I’m managing to hold it together and be a reasonable facsimile of my usual self while he’s awake. It’s when he’s asleep that I fall apart.

    And find places where I can safely whine to strangers and let some of this pressure off. If you made it this far, thank you.

      1. Thank you. In some way that I don’t really understand, it feels like help to know someone read my wail in the dark.

    1. Oh this all sounds so awful LW.. Apart from hugs, I just want to point out that you can save telling off the FIL till after your husband is out of reach, if you still feel you need to then. I agree it’s wise to keep the medical info to yourselves in order to save your energy for the important part, enjoying what time you have left together..

      1. Unagi… I never thought of that. That is an amazing option. It’s like you tilted the whole situation, the light fell differently and… well, amazing. Thank you so much.

        1. XXX Thank YOU for making me feel that my usual busybody attempts at problem solving sometimes work 😀 Hope you had good holidays together, feeling a smidge more peaceful

    2. Husband and I have difficult famlies. Good news is that they live in different states. Next year we are telling them that we are visiting the other family and staying home and keeping our heads underground. I hate the holidays, it’s so incredibly stressful.

      Maybe there’s “an out of town friend” that you must visit? Although an urgent work issue might work well too.

  53. This post is brought to you by the: Hot Fuzz Jog On gif.

    I really, really dislike this time of year on general principle. Most of it has to do with all kinds of cultural and social expectations that are placed upon the shoulders of female & female presenting people like me. I’m supposed to keep home and hearth and friend and family circles alive with cards and gift giving and planning and cooking while tolerating all kinds of terrible behavior and I’m *not* supposed to say anything about it?

    Yeah. Jog On, you.

    I can manage my seasonal low mood with help from trained professionals. I can manage my sensory processing issues with the same. I can even manage my “Epi-pen levels of nope” when it comes to Pinus family pollen in an indoor/contained setting. Do you have a live tree in your home? You’ve signed my death warrant, thanks.

    Yeah. It’s as isolating as it sounds. Crowds, scents, noise, colors, pollen, sap, expectations, and entitled attitudes make me wish I was wealthy enough I could be out of the country from Thanksgiving until mid-January. My gifts would be social media posts from some foreign locale, with pictures of food, detailed recipes, and probably more than a little swearing and rude hand gestures.

    This year the suck has doubled: My father had a stroke in October and I did the dutiful thing, flew back, and helped my dysfunctional family out as best I could. Because prior career in the medical field coupled with the PTSD & Autism Spectrum Superpower of compartmentalizing.

    (Think N-Dad & N-Mom, trying to outdo and/or out martyr each other while doubling down on ‘why do you have boundaries you should not have them because I love you–I mean me–so much’. If you have an N-Parent, yes, what you are probably picturing in your head is accurate.)

    So, not only am I on the receiving end of some B.S. ‘Because faaaaamily’, to some I’m a monster and a terrible person for wanting to GTFO, not exchanging gifts, not staying through the New Year, not tolerating their terrible behavior, and not putting them or anyone else first.

    And yet, I’m the selfish one for having needs and I’m the crazy one for bucking other people’s expectations of me.

  54. Christmas this year, made me realize how alone and out of touch I feel with everyone. On Christmas eve there was the most uncomfortable lunch, that includes a long ride down full of arguing.
    While eating, my grandma decided to reach for my necklace to see it, rather than ask for me to show her. This was really uncomfortable. Then while I was talking with my dad ( thank God he was there) my grandma started touching and rubbing my side. I hated it. I tried moving away and reacting uncomfortably to her touch. But she didn’t seem to understand for far too long. I also felt so upset that I didn’t know how to stand up to her.
    Then I had to see more people. It was so draining. Only bright spot was playing with animals.
    Then throughout the hour long car ride home, my step mom decided to argue with me about things that I have been working/ studying at for 4+years.
    On top of all of that my favorite family members are far away taking care of other sick family members.
    And to add to this pile of tears, my bf and I had a fight last night, which I now realize was because I felt so alone, and being long distance doesn’t help. Now today, I have to spend more time with my family to keep the peace.
    Wish me luck. Thank you for the place to vent

  55. I miss my friends. I had what I thought was a tight knit group of friends who I’d know since school. Two of them fell out with me about two years ago for reasons I still genuinely don’t understand. My little boy was ill in hospital and I was having what I feel now was a nervous breakdown due to 7 horrific years in a soul destroying job. Due to this I missed a birthday party, but I explained in advance why I couldn’t come and still sent good wishes. Since that day, they have ignored me and completely cut me out of their lives. All of the other people in the group have followed suit without even asking me what happened. I’ve not been invited to weddings, I’ve been completely ignored. The worst bit is I used to make a big fuss at Christmas and have everyone round for a party. Now it just feels very lonely. I’ve gone on social media today and have seen that they all had a party on Christmas Eve and that the person I classed as my best friend (who i always used to travel with) is going to New York with someone else from the group. My husband just doesn’t understand why I can’t get over it. I can be doing ok and then it just hits me, I feel like I’m grieving a death.

      1. Thank you for taking the time to comment. I know in the scheme of things it is not the worst thing in the world but it always hits me around Christmas time.

    1. I understand where you’re coming from here. I still have pretty intense anxiety around making and keeping friends following a sudden and unexpected split from my main friend group in college. (Since it was a tiny campus, the fallout meant that I also lost many of my favorite clubs and social spaces, as well).

      In my case, hiding/unfollowing (and sometimes unfriending/blocking) some of those former friends on social media did wonders for my sanity. It made it such that I didn’t have to constantly relive the feeling of “If things had gone differently, I would probably be in that photo/be tagged in that status/have been invited to that party.”

      Sending jedi hugs and good vibes your way!

    2. Loss is loss and grief is grief, whether it’s a job or a friend. If it’s painful to see what the ex-friends are doing, stay away from social media. Perhaps problem-focused therapy could help; you don’t have to go for years to learn how to cope. Good luck!

  56. This is the first Christmas for me and my partner, and we can’t be together today. He had to go to his abusive, gaslighting parents’ house and I had to work Christmas Eve and couldn’t go with.

    We’re in contact, but it physically hurts to know that he has to be in that toxic environment (recent grad, still financially dependent and playing nice was the only way to still see his niece). He and I have made such progress personally and in our relationship these last few months, and I’m dreading how beat down they will make him.

    A friend and I are going to go get him tomorrow, as a ‘surprise’ to his folks… I’m praying it goes well.

  57. Long time lurker here who’s a little bit mad because this should have been the best holiday weekend I’ve had in a long while – time away from well meaning but overbearing to the point of faintly toxic family, time in my own place with the most beautiful cat in the world who just walked into my life a few months ago, time to forget the unemployed undiagnosed aspie grind* for a little while, do things my own way and relax…

    (* – something I particularly wanted to forget this weekend; a few days ago I happened to have a largely unrelated meltdown just before a routine medical checkup, and because it seems nobody in that entire clinic recognised what one of those was, it culminated in me being physically dragged on the floor with a nurse trying to wrestle my phone off of me. And then told I didn’t “seem autistic”, so it was rude of me to tell them, while still crying and not totally recovered, that I didn’t find that treatment acceptable. Ugh.)

    But no, antidepressant withdrawal said “fuck you” to all of that. So I’m having a great day! For occasional bursts of ten minutes at a time, before the splitting headache and nausea and cramps and dizziness all come back and I have to go lie down for a few more hours. Weh weh. 😦

  58. I feel very flat this year. My “tradition” is if I’m not home with my family I turn Christmas day into a home spa day, and I don’t have the energy. Mom died in 2013 and I think my Christmas spirit went with her. I’m worried about being unemployed, about health insurance, about my elderly father on the other side of the country. Also, I have three finals for online classes due on the 30th. Yay.

  59. My heart goes out to everyone in this thread. My sincere well-wishes and hope to you all.

    I’m just… so sad today. I broke my ankle last month, on election day (a portent of things to come, surely), and have been out on short term disability ever since, recovering from surgery. So on top of being broke and laid up for over a month, I broke my ankle the day before I was scheduled to get my prescription for testosterone. So I had to reschedule, which was devastating to me. Now I’m six days on T, I started my period the same day I started T, and it won’t just stop already so I’m incredibly hormonal. And completely unprepared to go back to work tomorrow. And my mental junk (ADHD, executive dysfunction, depression/anxiety) has been acting up all month.

    There’s so much pressure to celebrate and do stuff today and I just… don’t care. The earth is dying, our country is about to fall in the hands of an aspiring despot and his oligarchs, and I made the mistake of reading the comments section on an article about trans healthcare this morning. Seeing someone advocate for the genocide of you and your loved ones is a great way to start off the day. Hell, I’m terrified for the safety of my friends and chosen family every single day, so why should Christmas be any exception?

    The one relative I wish I could spend the holiday with lives in China, so that’s not an option, and I’m not out to the relatives I live closest to, so that’s all a moot point anyway. I’m sure they’re wondering why I avoid them all the time. I’m a coward.

    I know this is nothing compared to so many of these stories, but thank you for giving me a safe place to vent.

    1. So many Jedi hugs from a fellow trans dude.

      I’m scared for us too. I’m so terrified for all of us. You are not alone in this fear, friend.

    2. I feel this so hard, as a trans person with depression and ADHD. The state of the world and the US is horrific. And I know the specific soul crushing dysphoria of an unwanted period. Wishing you a speedy recovery…

  60. blue item: ‘friend’ attacked me in my house (barred me from leaving a room+pushed me onto the bed, essentially knocking me over and leaning over me and screaming at me repeatedly. like target self-harming or not there’s no excuse for that) a while back, also tried to steal my computer which my mum enabled (her explanation was literally “oh i wasnt doing it to punish you but I can be petty and spiteful _too_ now it’s your turn to apologize”). I told my mum not to let her in the house anymore, which…sge fucking ignored on christmas for some reason. She thought it would have “blown over” or that I would have changed my mind, thankfully no contact since I wake up late but heard the fucker going “oh well if she’s willing to ~throw away 15 years of friendship*” annnd apparently she’;s left me a present despite the fact I blocked her.

    so yeah clarified with my mum “do not fucking let her in again” but it’s horrifying and depressing to me how someone can be friends with a disabled person for so long then infantilize and cage them in a box so hard that when they step out of the “Anna is Alwayz Rite” box they treat them like _that_. I don’t know if it’s textbook abuse or some narcissism combo or just ableism up the fucking roof or what.

    Like that ‘what the fuck’ hit aside day has been p. good but does anybody…idk, have explanations of why someone that’s a friend since primary would turn into that mess? Its’ to the point that seeing a boss/Alwayz Rite type friend in a comic I enjoy feels uncomfortable. She refused to leave the day she attacked until she got an apology (for…self harming I guess? I don’t fucking know anymore), she didn’t get one thankfully but trying to call her out on IMs after got a “x will not talk to you again” message.
    “Ableist hostility disguised as friendliness” article on realsocialskills .org helped me a bit but still puzzled.

  61. I have to come over for Christmas dinner where the only tolerable family members are my parents, 1 cousin, and my grandfather. Everyone else ignores me and have since I was like 12 or were complete douches growing up and can’t understand why I avoid them at all cost nor do they care. And my mother just told me she needs to have a talk about what’s wrong with me for feeling so isolated (10 plus years of this) and I all can think of is that she is willfully blind. Thinking of staying home because I’ll be less sad and less stressed if I’m *actually* alone, but she’ll just cry if I do that.

  62. Last year I embraced the captains advice and took a holiday to myself. As stressful as it was to set the boundaries, it was honestly one of the most relaxing and enjoyable xmas times.

    This year I did the same but I feel like my mom and brother kept trying to manipulate me in going to the cousins xmas. Saying they wouldnt be able to stop by to say hello or drop off gifts (the xmas event is 15 minutes away, but they are driving up from 2 hrs away, so honestly they just dont want to make it easy for me haha).

    I appreciate gifts but Im not going because it is stressful and I have already said I am spending it otherwise. The whole ‘oh we cant stop by’ smacks of punishment, which…also doesnt make me want to go? And I have never enjoyed these weird holiday trips vs spending christmas with my direct family.

    I know if I went, I would only feel out of place. I dont know these people beyond my mom and bro, so I honestly dont get why it is so insistant. Plus, I am an adult with an SO; I cant be expected to always be free.

    I am indulging in laying about. I am not going to be made uneasy anymore if I can help it.

    1. You are dream goals. All your reasons are valid and it sounds like a lovely mental health break, family events where you don’t know the family are tough. Be excellent to one another sometimes means peacing out

  63. My sister in law disowned me this morning because – as I’ve been telling her and my brother all along – I planned to see them after Christmas, not on Christmas day itself. Apparently they turned a deaf ear to me every. single. time. and made enough food for me (plus all their other relatives) expecting me to show up. When I apologized for the miscommunication and reiterated that I can’t wait to see her tomorrow, SIL informed me that we have no relationship and I am no longer invited tomorrow.

    On the upside, I guess I don’t have to see her tomorrow. This sort of outburst is not uncommon, so get-togethers usually feel fraught.

    1. Some people are just incapable of actually LISTENING.
      This is their problem, not yours. Enjoy your free day.

    2. I have a mother who only hears what she wants to hear, so I really sympathize with you. My mother does the same sort of ridiculous overreaction, too, due to her mental health issues.

  64. *sigh*

    Things are going so well I oughtn’t be sad at all but…I am. I am sad.

    I have officially begun medically transitioning! I’ve had two testosterone shots so far and will have the next in two days. This is all hunky dory; insurance threw no fits (that I am aware of.) However. The psychosocial report I had done to get this approved also says flat out that I fit all the requirements to have top surgery. The doctor handling my transitioning agrees I fit them all. And of course, that’s the one bloody thing insurance won’t cover. So I can’t get it done unless I raise somewhere in the vicinity of ten thousand dollars. I…I honestly thought I would be super okay with not having the option to get it done, but having my hopes raised only to then be soundly NOPE’d…

    I shouldn’t be sad. I know. I’m lucky. The majority of trans people don’t have such a strong and wonderful support system or access to the excellent care I’m currently receiving. But fuck. I am ~sad~.

    (I’m also breaking out in a ton of tiny painful zits. God damn it, testosterone + stress + naturally acne-prone skin, WHY.)

    I’m also so, so sad for my paternal aunt – fair warning, tl;dr. (She’s had a hard life; for a long while she was terribly addicted to pain pills and Xanax and kept refusing to take her other necessary medications, which meant that 99% of the time she was in withdrawal and seesawing madly between manic phases and totally listless lay-in-bed-and-do-nothing phases. She’s since overcome the great majority of, if not ~all~ of it, and while she’s still never going to be quite right in the head she has greatly improved.) Her daughter, my cousin, has a job that’s got her traveling all over the country fairly often (trade shows I think), a rather ineffective husband and a very hyperactive (and smegging adorable) young son. The husband is supposed to watch this son while cousin is off doing her job, but more often than not this results in him foisting the kid off on my aunt because he can’t be arsed. And even when cousin IS at home she tends to do the same thing, because she just gets SOOOOO worn out from the kid. Does my aunt get paid for this? No, no she bloody well does not – they’ve been using her as their unpaid babysitter pretty much ever since the kid was born. (They’ve also moved in with her at various points because their housing keeps falling through. She lives in a condo hardly big enough for herself. Add three more people and you have a Recipe For Disaster. And then they keep trying to move OTHER PEOPLE IN WITH THEM…)

    But that’s not the main reason why I am sad for her right now. The main reason is this: we sent her a Starbucks gift card for Christmas as that’s really all we could afford right now. Aunt called us in tears because she was so utterly grateful to get the gift…because no one else (except my dad’s cousin, who is the sweetest lady and never ever forgets a person) was getting her a single thing this Christmas. Yes, you read that right. The only gifts she got were from my family and my dad’s cousin. Her own daughter and son-in-law cannot be arsed to get her a gift, even after using her for convenient free housing and babysitting.

    I’m. I’m just sad. So sad.

    1. Oh dear, poor you. I don’t blame you for being sad – having hopes dashed is always painful, and it’s good you care about your aunt. Sending you good thoughts… and good luck with the hormones, I hope their effects settle in soon and you get more comfortable.

  65. I’m at dinner with my family and some family friends. Their son, who used to be really tiny, is now 14, taller than me, and his voice is changing, and it just makes me so melancholy. I’m trans, and 5’4″, and sad when I get reminded about what I’ve missed out on – going through normal puberty at the usual time, growing physically into an adult shape, and having that kind of changing relation with the world. I know bitterness and insecurity will cause me more problems than my physical realities will, but that doesn’t stop it. I don’t know if I can ever not be reminded of what I never had. So I just keep drinking wine…

    1. Love from a fellow 5’4″ (with shoes on) transmasculine person. I also used to feel sad about not having a boyhood. I’ve gotten to the place where I appreciate all that having a girlhood taught me. And I’m able to recognize and appreciate the very genderqueer parts of my childhood, too. I hope you’re able to find some acceptance and peace.

  66. This is a smaller problem than many mentioned here but it annoys the hell out me that people insist on feeling sorry for me because I’m not doing anything for Christmas. The wouldn’t even know about it if they hadn’t asked so insistently about my plans. Just leave me alone already, I’m fine. I’ve never been into Christmas.

    1. Oh hell yeah. What do I want for Christmas. A DAY OFF. A DAY OFF OF HAVING TO PERFORM ANYTHING FOR ANYONE.

      Except, well, my cat hasn’t been getting her share of playing lately, so I played with her a lot today and gave her new toys. And I texted with a couple of sisters briefly. And I’ve been posting on various internet fora for people suffering from holiday blues, holiday drama, and holiday ick. But other than that, NOPE, DAY OFF, WORLD CAN GO JUMP.

      1. IKR
        I wish there was a good way to say “What I want for the holidays is to be left alone with my cat” without offending the extroverts in one’s circle/sparking further efforts to INCLUDE YOU like you’re a recalcitrant child.

  67. Relatively minor: My cat won’t get off my lap and my legs are starting to fall asleep. I’ve tried boundary statements, but she purrs and snuggles cutely at me and doesn’t budge.

    Help. We appear to be trapped in some kind of codependency.

  68. Mom and Dad, please, please, please stop telling everyone ‘we don’t want anything’ and then buying something with your own money and wrapping it yourself and writing out a damn tag in your own handwriting to yourself from a different family member and then unwrapping it like it’s some kind of surprise. >.< WHY. Do you not understand the point of gifts. Also please stop buying something for yourself and then giving it to me to wrap and give to you. THAT IS NOT A PRESENT. You are allowed to just … buy things for yourself, ok?

  69. As my best friend said, my family generally improves each time I visit them, but it’s not as much as I expect or as I would like and it throws me off each time. Same old, same old: everyone getting very perfectionist-y and controlling over the “proper” way to do the holidays, parents dismissing my interests and simultaneously expecting me to parent them. It’s not any worse than normal, I guess, and there haven’t been any major meltdowns (yet: I’m still waiting for the inevitable…) but come on, can’t it just be *good* for once?

  70. TW: DV

    Soooooo…after my husband and I celebrated our first solo Christmas morning and prepped for him to go off to work before spending Christmas evening together, I called my mom to discover she left my dad last night after an incident that she was afraid would end in physical violence and unambiguously did involve physical intimidation. She has a safe place to be (second home, closer to us as well) and she has resources, but still…it’s a lot.

    TBH, I have seen this coming for years. But through talking to her today, I realized this has not been the first incident like this nor the worst one, and the first incident occurred when she was pregnant with me. I feel like I should have known or something.

    Anyway, so we ended up spending Christmas with her, and she and I are spending tomorrow making a plan.

    1. Yeah! So glad your mom is getting out. Sometimes these guys mellow out with age but sometimes they just kill you. And then use their age as an excuse to basically get immunity. Or, as for my mother, the constant stress wears you down into an early grave. Thank you LW for being a support, and my best hugs to both of you.

  71. I picked up a side job doing online tech support from home during the holidays. N-mom has been increasingly offended that I close my bedroom door while video chatting with customers and that I will not log out in the middle of my shifts to wait on her when she comes up with nonsense projects – I’ve been waiting for the explosion.

    Last night, I came home after working a double shift at my retail job to find N-mom had talked E-dad into closing all the heat vents in my bedroom. The justification was that they were ‘wasting heat’ by sending some into a room with a closed door where the hot air won’t circulate through the house. Mind you, E-dad’s bedroom, hobby room, and office space all continue to get heat – my room is the only area that got shut off.

    As a result, I’m spending Christmas sitting in front of a computer in a winter coat, boots and gloves, talking customers through setting up their new computers and toys, while my parents alternately snipe at and ignore each other. I stuck my head out briefly to heat up my dinner and got dragged into ordering, picking up, plating, and serving their Chinese take-out dinner, as they were both too special to drive down the street and pick up their own food.

    Despite all this, I can’t stop smiling – I may be cold and having to work and be treated like a servant, but I’m still happier than either of them and it’s absolutely tearing my N-mom apart to see that I’m not miserable.

    1. I’d be laughing too.

      BTW, they’re probably in violation of your rights as a tenant. Shutting of heat to a tenant is illegal in many jurisdictions. If you’re a dependent instead of a tenant, they’re likely breaking some laws there as well.

  72. Having a rough go of it. My dog had to have emergency surgery this week, so I was unable to travel to see my family. I was super stressed out and anxious about that (vet gave about a 1 in 4 mortality on her surgery). So, I’ve been home taking care of her. I didn’t think it would be a big deal not seeing my family, since I often really enjoy spending time to myself. But… I’ve been very lonely, unexpectedly. My partner is also sick, which… well, is leaving me very depressed about how selfish I am because instead of being sympathetic and helpful, I’m just annoyed with how much he whines and groans about it. Not very charitable of me, I know. Anyways, just having a rough go of it this year.

  73. Christmas has always been a difficult time, but this year has been the hardest by a landslide. Friday my bf of 3+ yrs and I were supposed to leave for a five day visit with both of our families (we live a few states away). Our relationship had been going well recently after a few rocky months and for the first time I could remember in my life I was looking forward to Christmas. Despite ever-present family issues, despite this being the first Christmas since my brother drank himself to death, despite holiday travel and all the negatives – I was so excited. I should have known better.

    The short version of a long story is that we ended up fighting Thurs night, straight through the night and into Friday with a few hours break during which he slept and I cried. Friday started it all over again to the ultimate outcome of my calling emergency services out of fear for myself and for him. Due to childhood stuff, I have ptsd, so while all this went on I was in panic-attack mode, crying and shaking and hyperventilating. I ultimately spent the night at a friend’s house after my statement of intention to leave and make the 7+ hour drive home on Fri night after everything went on was met with a loving but firm “hell no you aren’t”. Now I’m with family, and don’t have the type of relationship with them where I would or can tell them about any of the stuff that happened, so I’m walking around saying he didn’t feel well (technically true) and trying to keep the mask firmly in place while worrying about what awaits me at home (emergency services let him out after a few hours) and trying to explain away my inability to choke down more than a couple bites of food, while wanting nothing more than to curl up in a ball under a blanket and be left the heck alone. My heart is broken, I’m devastated and depressed and scared.

    We live together and when I head home it will be to an apartment with him which means I will be facing the undeniable reality of the situation, his incredible ability to be cuttingly cruel when mad, and no real safe place left in the world.

    The upside, I suppose, is that I remember now why I don’t let myself look forward to things, why I don’t trust people and have traditionally avoided these types of long term relationships, and why I don’t like Christmas. I know better, and don’t foresee myself making those mistakes again. At least alone I don’t feel this level of pain. Merry Christmas indeed.

    1. Wow, that’s harsh. Please call a domestic violence hotline, and also contact a DV shelter in your area. Whether or not you stay at the shelter, the hotlines and the shelter specialize in finding you advice on how to get out of your situation and resources to help.

      It’s really amazing to talk to a DV advocate, because it takes about 10% of the effort to tell your story than it would to anyone else. Because they get it. You won’t be telling them anything new. When you’re in that kind of situation, it’s a lifeline to just be so immediately understood.

    2. Can you go back to a friend’s house or to a hotel or Airbnb while you figure out a plan for your safety (or call a domestic violence hotline and let them help you figure out a plan)? It sounds like going home is not a safe situation for you. Whatever obstacles there are to moving yourself and your stuff out of the apartment you share, losing more sleep and possibly getting hurt won’t make it easier. Give some serious thought to looking for a new living situation first, and retrieving your stuff once you have a roof over your head.

    3. lundy bancroft’s “why does he do that” helped me though with an unrelated situation – someone got the pdf online. In short its’ not anger causing his cruelty, its’ his own attitudes. He might wait until he’s angry before letting that side show but its’ 100% his fault, not yours.

  74. I have two younger sisters who can’t stop talking about their trips to Turkey and Morocco and Italy and Spain and Florida. And I live in a small Midwestern town with mediocre transit, and don’t even have a car to drive myself to see an independent movie. I am so consumed with envy and shame and feeling like the underachievingest child that I am ruining Christmas with my grinchiness.

    I don’t know at what point they’re just rubbing it in my face – I mean, there’s never a point where you can just say “stop talking about how great your life is” without being a terrible person, right?

  75. This isn’t a huge problem, but I’m at work. I work in a hotel, so while I’d rather not be here, I tell myself that I’m letting people visit their families without everyone fighting like cats and dogs. (Especially those like me, in apartments.) But everyone I’ve talked to has been bringing me down tonight. There’s definitely been a few guests who could do some posting on here, if they knew about it. Also, I never work the night shift, I’m very nervous to catch public transit this late.

    My husband is lovely, but he probably went about 300% over our Christmas budget, and now I am mad at him for buying me things.

    My parents are visiting, but I’m fairly sure they hate the city I live in. Everything is too pretentious, and the wait times for popular restaurants are long, and the parking is awful, and they have to walk to places! I love them, though, and I have to work until 5pm half of the days they are here.

    My sister is visiting as well, which is a recent development, but she’s been having a rough winter.

    1. I know this isn’t directly related to Christmas, other than the fact that my work schedule got changed due to the holiday, but public transit was just as bad as I thought.

      By the time I got to my stop, it was just me and this middle aged man who would stare at me for minutes at a time without looking away.

      I had to call a friend to meet me at the station in case the guy got off with me. 15 minute walk home in the dark, otherwise.

  76. The dude I had an affair with is a prick, as I should expect by now, but it always surprises me. I found out he’s not coming back to our co-op next semester, so told the boyfriend as an extra Christmas present. Then he thought to ask how I found out, WHILE AT CHRISTMAS DINNER, so I had to pull him aside and show him Skype, and then we almost got into a fight about it. At his aunt’s house. On Christmas.

    I know I’m lucky he took me back after what happened. I know I’m lucky his mom didn’t forbid me from Christmas and hugged me and bought me beautiful pens for my journal. I spent the evening trying not to feel like an imposter. It wasn’t the best Christmas.

  77. My mother’s dying. She’s 91, has Alzheimer’s, and is being looked after in a very good care home, so I don’t have direct responsibility for her welfare, although I’ve looked after her finances for the past ten years or so. I bought a funeral bond on her behalf and – when she was still in a state to make decisions – got her to tell me what she wanted as regards music, readings, disposition of her body etc., and also to make a will. Everything’s ready, in other words, down to more or less the last detail.

    What’s troubling me is that when I tell people she’s gone there will be an instant outpouring of sympathy from my friends, and I just don’t want it. My mother and I never liked each other – I was a disappointment to her from the moment the sperm met the egg because I wasn’t a boy. Once she got over that, she started disliking me for not being more like her – i.e. docile and unthinkingly obedient to anyone with a penis. Developing a mind of my own was a crime she punished me for her whole life, until her own mind started to fail. Then (too late!) she decided she loved me. Unfortunately I could never reciprocate, but I’ve done my best for her over the years as a result of a promise I made to my father; he wanted me to look after her, and I have – albeit doing none of the day-to-day caring myself. [There was enough money to make sure she was looked after to a high standard, and I was very glad to spend it on that.]

    When the time comes, and her friends and family – most of whom hate me anyway – gather for her funeral, I have no doubt some will very kindly express their condolences and I’ll thank them, but I am absolutely not going to be a hypocrite about it all and pretend to be heartbroken. This is a ‘merciful release’ not just for her but also for me. There’ll be several months/a year of paperwork to do, but it’s all in meticulous order already and should be straightforward enough to sort out, and then I can bundle up the files, stick them in storage and get on with my life. However, I can’t help thinking of the funeral as just one more occasion for my so-called relatives to criticise me for something manufactured like not being sad enough or choosing the wrong hymns – and at the same time I’m trying to remember that it isn’t actually about *me* at all and I should just get over myself. The problem is, years of being unappreciated take their toll after a while, and that’s all I’ve learned to expect. Sigh. Is it any wonder that I want it to be over?

    1. My condolences – not for your mother’s impending death, but for the stress and strain of the impending funeral and Family Shit. I’m sorry you’ll have to deal with that.

      1. Thank you; moral support greatly appreciated! I’m setting off this morning to go see her – about a five hour drive – and will get a better idea of the situation then. Sigh.

    2. Moral support from me as well. And yes, you are the one carrying the burdens so it is indeed all about you. You matter.

      I am in a similar position, only very different, if that makes any sense. Dad died in January; mum is now very unwell, but living at home on her own. I live nearest, and every time I visit I am fearful about what I will find. If others – neighbours, family – are unsure they ring me to go and check on her. Opening her door in the dark, with no lights on in the house, calling out to her, walking through the house to find where she is, putting on every light I can find on my way; eventually hearing her reply. So far. Trying to work out what I can deal with and at what point to call in the doctor.

      When she is bad I visit two or three times a day. At the moment she is fine, so she gets every other day; not today, thankfully.

      Nobody at all caring whether I can actually do any of this (I cope with CPTSD and DID). Nobody in the family giving me any emotional support because they have no idea what it is; only one very dear friend who is in a similar but different position with her own mother.

      All those condolences? They think they are paying their share; doing their bit, and that is all about them, not about you. Let them think it, accept gracefully and then deal with the cards or messages in your own preferred way; tie them in pink ribbon and cherish them forever, burn them, bury them; do what you like, and notionally stick the senders in with them.

      You have kept your promise to your father; that is all that matters.

    3. If there are any complaints or mutterings about the chosen hymns etc, just say (in a grand dame voice) “that was specifically chosen by Mother-she would be disappointed to hear you say that.”

      1. Second this suggestion. That was exactly what my uncle did at my grandpa’s funeral a couple years ago, and it worked perfectly. (Or, at least, so I hear – apparently it worked perfectly enough that there weren’t any complaints left the day before the ceremony when I was able to fly in.)

  78. Mine is also not the worst, just frustrating. I work a very demanding job that often requires international travel, and this year I had absolutely no control over my schedule. I was told by my employer I’d have to travel right before Christmas, and the days and locations were changed several times at the last minute, causing maximum stress. I ended up in a place I’d never been before, staying in an isolated neighborhood where it isn’t safe to walk around. As a result, I spent Christmas alone, holed up inside with no celebratory food, no friends, no family, and no gifts. Ironically, also no work, as that won’t begin again until after the holiday since everyone else is taking time off with their families. Talking to my own family on the phone actually made it worse, since they were all having such a great time doing the usual Christmas things. 90% of the time I love this job, but certain aspects of it are lousy and it’s been a tough year overall.

  79. I’m peeved at some “miscommunication” / never being told stuff and accused by the person who didn’t tell me.
    I’m an introvert, and spending with the family is something I need to measure out and plan. Indeterminate-length visits are just not something I want to do as an adult, now that I can control my own plans. Plus, I want to use my rare time off to do stuff I want to do (like cuddling my cat and being quiet) and maybe not have to expend energy on performing holiday cheer during those few days?

    But my family Does Not Get IT

    First, I got deliberately (?) told the wrong time to meet up so I could sit around and wait for them to get ready. When I told the party responsible to please let me know the REAL time and don’t try to accommodate factors XYZ (which are my personal circumstances that they know about but DO NOT understand at all, and also Certain Relatives are incapable of listening, at least when it is my voice they need to listen to). This polite request was met with “but I MEANT well” as if that was the important thing – and I was abundantly clear that I knew they meant well, it just wasn’t having the intended effect SO PLEASE STOP.

    There was also a bit of a blow-up about “What do you MEAN you don’t want to crash at (relative’s) place? (at the last minute, but I’m pretending like you are capriciously changing your mind) I BET YOU DON’T EVEN WANT TO GO AT ALL” like it’s some kind of accusation or impingement on my character to prefer my own space. Followed by silent treatment.

    Nobody at any point told me that staying over was the plan (if they had, I’d have said “no, that does not work for me” because it doesn’t) but I almost got stranded there thanks to last minute revelation of plans made FOR me coupled with accusations as above.

    So after dinner I spent many moneys on a taxi so I could get home at a reasonable hour and cuddle my cat in peace.

    Just, fuck it. I should have stayed home and sent my regrets.

    Never got an apology for the “miscommunication” either, which adds weight to the “I didn’t actually think about you at all” theory.

    And I’m back to work already, joy.

    Thanks for reading, awkardeers.

    1. That wasn’t miscommunication, it was manipulation. Rather worse than thoughtless; it is very destructive, and you are fully entitled to be furious, never mind peeved.

      Best to stay away from them all as much as possible and send a regret along the lines of ‘Sorry I can’t be there but I have better things to do.’ And stay with the cat.

  80. My difficult relationship with my MIL is well still difficult. It has gotten A LOT better thanks to advice from this blog and from learning how to not care what she thinks of me so it is palatable now…

    It’s just she is such an asshole. She just LOVES talking shit about other people and it is so draining! It could (and has been) much worse, but I just needed to say out loud: stop picking on every choice other people make! Today she complained that her SIL puts out the wise men before Ephiphany. Who cares!!!

    Anyway I know objectively how this is not that bad, but it is really annoying!

  81. My mother would tell you that she’s the most ignored, put-upon person in our family, if not in human history, that she never gets her way or is appreciated in the slightest. In truth, my mom is a spectacularly effective bully, who gets her way a whole lot of the time and usually by the not-very-nice method of making anyone who stands up to her, in any way, miserable. I live in another state and have been able to carve out my own space and schedule. Mom resents this greatly. But she’s been quieter about it in recent years. I had begun to think maybe she was mellowing in her old age. This is what is known as “letting your guard down.”

    On Christmas morning, my mother was bitching at my dad–not shouting, but loudly–about how he’d woken everyone up too early, and now we’d all be tired all day. First of all, Dad didn’t wake everyone up by getting up early, and second, with my niece still being in grade school, it’s a miracle we got to sleep as late as 7:30 a.m. anyway. This wasn’t Mom “going off” at her worst, but it really wasn’t Christmas-morning-by-the-tree talk either, and it just felt so petty and useless during what’s supposed to be a happy gathering. I said–and I promise you, I said this in a pretty mild tone of voice–“Mom, could you not?”

    She knocked it off. We opened presents. I’d taken notes throughout the year to be sure to get her a few things she’d really like. It was a really good, enjoyable Christmas morning. I had forgotten all about earlier, and I suspect everyone besides my mother had too. My dad and older brother ran an errand while my sister-in-law wrangled the niece into pajamas, leaving me alone with Mom. She said, in this tone of voice like she was comforting a child, “You know, honey, that was only bickering this morning. It’s nothing serious.” I feel like bickering requires two participants, but I didn’t push it, just said, “Yeah, I know.” It wasn’t like I thought they were going to divorce over it.

    Then she said, “Your father and I have been together for forty-one years. It’s not like YOU’RE ever going to have a relationship that long. So you shouldn’t judge.”

    I’m not married and I don’t have kids; that’s not by choice. I have some problems trusting people and getting truly close to them, JUST MAYBE because I grew up with someone who treats intimacy as a weapon. It caught me so off-guard and I was so mad at myself for forgetting how she’ll hurt people in retaliation for the slightest disagreement or pushback. This is why she gets her way.

    I just got out of there and drove back to my home as soon as possible without upsetting other family members. I said absolutely nothing unnecessary to my mother from that moment on in my stay. She clearly had begun to realize I was upset, and just as clearly was beginning to assume the position of, “Look how my daughter is causing trouble at Christmas.” You see, this is part of the big lie under which my family operates: Because I don’t live near them or visit constantly for a week or more at a time, I must be cold and mean and unnatural. Sometimes I start believing it too.

    1. Wow. That is an awful and cruel thing to say. Just all the sympathy in the world – my mom does this, and it feels like having ice water dumped on you. Everything seems to be fine, but she’s just waiting to spring something on you. I am so impressed you took care of yourself, and got yourself out of the bad situation! I hope you get some time to take care of yourself soon. Many jedi hugs if you want them.

    2. Forty one years of what, exactly? Sounds truly horrible, to me.

      Well done for setting clear boundaries, and for getting out of that hall of mirrors. You are not the one who is being ‘unnatural.’

  82. My Christmas lasts weeks every year. It can be exhausting. I have my parents, our own, his parents, his grandmother’s, my Dad’s side, my Mom’s side, and some close friends this year. Last year there were twelve separate occasions, so this year isn’t too bad, and they are all relatively close. My husband has a health condition that restricts his ability to travel, so some years we have had to miss on my family gatherings because some of my family lives hours away and he can’t travel that far.

    This year I worked, so I managed to avoid the possibly fraught meal with the in laws (got there in time to see what overload the kiddos got this year and eat a cold plate before heading to his grandmother’s house to hold my breath and try not to have an asthma attack from her secondhand smoke) but I did listen to people either commiserating that we were working Christmas or someone coming in and griping that my daytime counterpart asked to switch shifts with me. Tomorrow will be the hardest gathering this year-my Mom’s side. Her dad passed away a few days after Thanksgiving. It has been a family tradition since her older sister was a baby for him to read the Biblical account from beginning to end before gifts are even looked at. This year someone else will do it. We’re all going to be feeling his loss in different ways, and while he is no longer suffering (exotic cancer and then a broken hip left him weak and in pain) there will be lots of sadness floating around, and I am dreading the total soppiness of the gathering even as I want to be there because THEY will understand what I am missing this year.

    Finally, our church burned down a week ago. A funeral home made their chapel open so the church could still have their Christmas service, but since I was working my husband and kids were not able to go, because no one thought to come and get them (not that it would have been good for them anyway-the chapel was crowded and between my husband’s inability to filter things properly and getting overwhelmed in large crowds and my younger daughter’s not-quite-under-control ADHD that becomes more pronounced in new places and situations, it would likely have been a stressful morning for all, conveniently captured for TV viewers as several news crews were there). It would have been nice for someone to realize that they would not be able to go since I was working-we live in the church parsonage, right next to the church, so before the fire it was a five minute trip with the kids on Sundays I worked. Now, no matter where services are held, if I’m working, my husband and kids may well miss services because no one thinks to pick them up.

  83. This is a little thing compared to many people’s loads at this time of year, but for that very reason I’m having a hard time admitting how sad it’s made me.
    We cancelled Thanksgiving travel because of a mental-health crisis in the destination family. (Anxiety about us driving long distance was deemed too triggering by the caregiver). So we’re all quite worried and sad and helpless about that, but also missing that side of the family a lot.
    Finances precluded a visit in either direction with my favorite-but-farthest-away relatives.
    And my dad is now splitting his time between us and his wife’s kids/grandkids, so we only got them for dinner and about a half-hour before and after.
    I hate the process of travelling and find parties stressful, but the best part of the holidays for me are those casual hours of coffee and pjs, or sitting around in the afternoon reading bits out of your new books, or the impromptu “I’ve got to get outta here, let’s go for a walk!” The quantity time that removes pressure to perform “quality time”.
    We made a nice Christmas for our kids, but I’m lonely and disappointed. And I really wish I’d articulated this three weeks ago instead of eating all.the.feels and having to deal with the physical fallout of that now.

  84. My mom is constantly bullying my little sister about her weight, and I’m on the other side of the country, so I can’t really do much besides be supportive. Also, I’ve tried to get her to stop in the past, and the best I got was that she stopped commenting on my appearance. Mom doesn’t even know I’m pissed off and I’m not sure if it’s worth the fight to try again.

    And my closeted girlfriend is with her transphobic af family, trying to deal with all their bigoted jokes without outing herself. And I can mostly just be encouraging from afar.

    I can’t wait for this year to be over.

  85. I will say reading these stories and comments is making me feel oddly better about my low-key dislike of Christmas. I was raised on a fundamentalist Christian commune for the first 7 years of my life, meaning Christmas as many Americans know it was “too pagan and secular” for us–so we didn’t celebrate at all. Then my parents re-joined society and we had 6 good years of story-book Christmases. Then my parents got divorced. My mom is very loving but needy, and my two siblings were too young to make clear decisions and sacrifices–so, for about 8 years-ish I would stay home alone with my mom and my two younger siblings would head out at noon on Christmas day to be with my dad. Needless to say, it wasn’t fun. Christmas sort of..curdled into this sad, power-struggle weirdness where my mom would get more and more wound up and insistent on a “perfect” Christmas and since my siblings were long gone by then, I *the one person who liked Christmas the least* got roped into performing “Merry Christmas” every year.

    I was able to reset with 3 years of blissfully alone Christmases in SE Asia, where I lived from 2010-13, and then a couple bumpy years when I got back to the States. Then last year I got engaged and was able to spend Christmas with my own little family, my fiance and his son. Buying presents, making traditional foods, buying vintage ornaments and decorating the house. It was lovely. However, we split up early this year and this year I’m single again. It’s almost *more* painful to have one happy year and then go back to wine and trashy-TV Christmases than it would have been to just solider on without that happy year.

    My sister and her fam live in town, but I’m just so, so, so tired of being the third wheel and single auntie. They’re very loving and kind and fun, and generous, and my little nephew is a delight, but I just get so sad and down seeing them in their lovely home, married happily, with a kid they very much wanted and adore, and their pets and all. It’s not a zero sum game and I am legit happy for them, and I have many blessings too, but that one day of the year, Christmas, is hard to go alone. But thanks to this blog I see I am *not* really alone!! Scrooges unite : )

  86. A volunteer organization I’ve done a lot of work for/with (including several staff positions, high and low) for the last 5+ years has decided I’m not … something enough to volunteer at the higher (decision-making) levels of the org anymore and refuse to give me any reason. I caught the spouse / roommate of several other higher-level org members lying, cheating, etc and brought it to the attention of the org’s Officers – they’e been bending over backwards to protect her and told me if I wanted to speak to her in person then I could only phrase things in “100% constructive criticism”. But I can’t even know what’s wrong with me? I’ve been told nothing I’ve done is “punishable” and I may continue to work at my current lower-level position, but that’s it.

    The org has been my main social group as well for 5+ years, but I’m just kinda… burnt out. I’ve put in my notice and I should no longer be volunteer staff by the end of February. And in the meantime I need to decide if I even want to continue with the org as a regular member. On one hand, shit is messed up, the upper staff is a bit incestuous (most of them live within 5 miles of eachother, whereas the org membership is spread over half the state) and so forth… and on the other hand, my main social group.

    1. Uhhh, they demoted you without giving a reason and your giving them more than two months notice? That’s seems … overgenerous.

      1. I was applying for a new (higher level) position, and got refused from that (and told I would never be considered for any higher-level position again due to … something). So not actually demoted, but yeah, sucky. It’s causing flare-ups in my anxiety (people actually ARE talking about me behind my back, saying negative things) and depression (I’m not even worthy of knowing how I’m wrong? they think there is no room for me to improve?).

        I’m not super-good at making or maintaining friend-groups, so walking away from this one, even when I know it is crazy-toxic, is hard. My husband keeps pushing for inviting the 5 or so closest friends I’ve made and joining a different but similar org with them.

    2. I think you *know* why you’re not considered for promotion – you’re not willing to play the game of ‘appease the liar’; which makes you uncomfortable to be around for them, because if you just pretended that this person had done nothing wrong than nothing bad had happened and you could all be a happy family. Now someone might have to face the buzzing in the attic.

      I’m sorry you’re losing your social group over this, but people who would rather keep things quiet than face problems, and who stab you in the back instead of working with you on any shortcomings you might legitimately have, are not your friends. If there are individuals you want to stay in contact with, see whether you can cultivate a friendship with them. Otherwise, take your awesomeness and your energy and look for a more receptive organisation.

  87. Possible trigger for weight/food policing?

    OK, this is kind of a petty whine, my family is pretty great about 95% of the time but my dad lost loads of weight and now apparently can’t stop concern-trolling me about my weight and what I eat. And I like a good plateful, especially at Christmas, so there’s been a few words exchanged. Then tonight we were helping ourselves to pasta and he went all “No you can’t have that much, put some back” so I picked up my plate and tipped all of it back into the pot, which I know is kind of childish, and he had a go at me for that too. And then my daughter started crying because she could see us looking daggers at each other and I feel like the bad guy. I know I reacted badly but I hate hearing about health risks of weight blah blah blah and the other day he said maybe my depression would clear right up if I lost weight. Also I’m already estranged from my mum and appreciate how he’s not a terrible abusive person like her, but this weight stuff gets me down this time of year.

    1. My mom shouted at me that my doctor was a quack because she didn’t force me into weight loss treatment before she prescribed me anti-depressants. You are not alone, and you are not petty.

    2. I am so sorry. It doesn’t seem petty to me.

      What strikes me is that you describe your mother as being abusive, so maybe your father’s behaviour seems healthier/not abusive in comparison while, to this outside, he sounds emotionally abusive. In a low level kind of sneaky, plausible deniability way. Which can be the hardest to spot and deal with.

      I’m not saying this is so; I’m just saying this is how it strikes me. Your own view of the situation is larger and more detailed of course, so I may be totally wrong.

  88. In addition to being sick (possibly because of being sick), I realized today that I forgot to phone my aunt to wish her Merry Christmas. She is my (late, abusive asshat, biological) father’s only sibling (younger sister), and how the hell the two of them were reared in the same household by the same parents and he turned out to be such an asshat and she turned out to be such a sweet, awesome human being is one of the great mysteries of the universe. She lives on the Pacific coast and I live on the Atlantic coast, so I don’t get to see her in person often at all (like, the last time was over a decade ago), but I try to remember to at least phone on her birthday, Mother’s Day (since, at least in my family’s way of doing holidays, we recognize aunts on Mother’s Day as well as mothers and grandmothers), and Christmas, but I spaced it off yesterday.

    So I phoned today and got her answering machine/voice mail, which is about par for the course because she and my uncle are both retired but very active in their church and community. Like as not, she’ll phone me back in the next day or so and it will be no big deal because she’s not the type to get pissed over a “Merry Christmas” phone call being a day late, but I just feel like a dipshit for having forgotten.

  89. Well, I’m late but don’t think it matters! Friday my family went to my aunt & uncle’s house for dinner. On the plus side: my cousin, his wife, and their twin 3 yr olds were there, and I like seeing them. On the bad side: there is a lot of history with my aunts & uncles in this family, and it’s not good. It is fair to say that I try to avoid them in fact. My sister did avoid it actually, she plead illness and didn’t go. And I’m not quite sure how, but my uncle surpassed his all time creepy high. I spent a good amount of time hanging out with my cousin and the twins. Hopefully I can avoid the uncle and aunts for another year or two without too much difficulty.

  90. I started the saga by getting stuck in a bus seat someone had spilt orange juice all over and having my butt gradually grow soggy over the next three hours, and things haven’t improved much from there. I made a 9 year old cry when his sister told him to stop making Trump jokes and I quietly said “yes, please, my friends could die because of this, so stop.” A little heavy? Well, he’d spent the last two days pretending to be an adult and insisting he was super mature and smarter then me, so my regret level for truth-bombing the poor kid is admittedly lowered.
    It’s rough being queer and in a relationship with a queer person and having to listen to super queer-phobic comments and not being able to say “knock that off” without being asked “well, why do you care. You’re not gay!” like that magically means I’m not allowed to mind them being an asshole.
    Also everyone’s super pissed off that my boyfriend’s not going to sleep over when he visits, because I’m sleeping over at his place and “it looks like he doesn’t like us! It looks like you don’t want him to spend time with us!” Yeah, maybe because at his house his parents aren’t insisting his mom sleep in his room with him to make sure we don’t sneak into each other’s rooms like you folks are.
    On the plus side, I re-shaved my hair just before I came because I knew it would piss my mom off and watching her avoid mentioning my appearance at all just to keep the peace has been really enjoyable.

    1. Oh, good for you! It’s when they’re 9 that they need to hear that people can die, in fact have died, precisely because of shit like what’s coming down on us. You should be happy the proto-nazi cried, maybe this one will be able to re-think its childish opinions before it’s too late.

  91. Uggh. I’ve always had a fraught relationship with my mother. It’s been better the last few years, but this has been the first Christmas where I’ve been back to feeling like I’m trying to fit myself into a mold that is much smaller than I am in order not to upset my parents. The difficulty has been that my sister had a late-in-life surprise baby a few years ago. My mother has always more or less used my sister and I to work out her own unresolved mommy issues (I’m fairly sure that her mother was mentally ill). I felt like I’d more or less come to terms with that, but issues relating to this stuff have been popping up this year (long story).

    And it’s becoming clear that my mother is now using both my sister and the grandchild to continue working out the same damn unresolved mommy issues, by projecting her child-feelings onto the grandchild and casting my sister as the bad mommy. I’ve been too complicit in this, I think, because my sister and I aren’t at all close (and I’ve experienced her as bullying, so it’s easy for me to take my mom’s word that my sister is being too hard on her child). But after being around my sister’s family this Xmas, I can see that my sister is dealing with a lot of stuff (including some completely unrelated stuff of her own), that my mom is being too judgmental, and that my sister is sort of aware that she doesn’t have tools or a model for how to deal with child rearing because of how we were brought up. My sister and I actually had a bit of a conversation about our fears and concerns about having grown up in a pretty isolated, disconnected family (yay for real talk!) and I now feel even more strongly that my mom needs to step back and work out her own issues with, y’know, her *therapist* rather than trying to control my sister. I’m overwhelmed by all the unspoken emotional baggage/stuff/expectations here and just want to get home and do my own stuff and think my own thoughts.

    I’m flying back to where I live tomorrow. I don’t especially like the city I live in, so it’s not quite “going home,” but it’s my own bed and it’s peace and quiet)and not having to placate my mom all the time — she takes everything REALLY PERSONALLY, and, like, I just can’t keep listening to how terrible the New York Times is for printing stories about Donald Trump when SHE wants to read about something else! THEN PUT THE NEWSPAPER DOWN AND PICK UP A NOVEL FFS. The New York Times is not reporting AT you.


  92. This Christmas has been so full of guilt for me, despite generally being a good Christmas otherwise.

    Last year my husband and I went to visit my (long divorced) mother, and I made the mistake of taking a whole week out there. Despite being in a hotel, we ended up super stressed out and stir crazy in the winter weather and just generally unhappy. But hey, this year was time to stay at home and do Christmas with the in-laws, which is a big tiring (but fun) family affair – and since they are close to home it’s relatively limited and we sleep at home and I can recharge my introvert points easily.

    Except. My grandmother has finally been moved away to a nursing home (which my mom wanted!) and my mom decided to sell her condo this year (needed to be done eventually…). So now my mom is living in my grandmother’s condo and has literally no family to spend Christmas with – her brother didn’t even end up visiting before Christmas. Months ago she decided not to fly out to us and frankly I was happy. A few days before Christmas she thought about it again and I looked up ticket prices for her (she doesn’t know how to internet so I’m her personal Google) and they were fairly expensive. Honestly we could probably have afforded to bring her last minute if she/we really wanted to, but I didn’t offer because I didn’t really want her here, especially at the last minute when I wasn’t prepared. I feel so horrible about it, especially since she desperately wants us to let her live with her and I’ve had to spend the last few years gently and not so gently telling her it won’t happen.

    She’s not a terrible person – she’s just exhausting and selfish – and even though I know I don’t actually, I still wonder if I “owe” it to her to be a better daughter – to help her more with finding a place to rent near us (ugh), to look up more things on the internet… I don’t know. But the more she depends on me for things the less I actually want to be around her. And if anything, my husband finds her even more frustrating and exhausting. I’ve spent my whole life figuring out how to shrug off her constant questioning of how I want to do things, ignore her constant “well *I* wouldn’t do it that way”s, and push through her tendency to put her wants and needs above everyone else’s. But she loves me and cares about me and I do love her.

    I feel so guilty, and then when people talk about how excited they are to go visit their family of origin and see their parents I feel so broken. Especially since it’s not that I can’t stand her or that anything dark happened in my childhood… I just don’t like to be around her for more than a few hours at a time. Except since she lives across the country that’s not something I can really do. And when we are around her she desperately wants more attention. And when she asked about whether she’d be welcome at Christmas I said yes… which is true in terms of my in-laws being happy to invite her to the celebrations, but not actually in terms of what I want.

    And I forgot to call my father for Christmas. He didn’t raise me, really, but we’ve managed to put together a reasonable adult relationship and I tend to enjoy the occasional trip when I get to spend time with him.

    Ugh, so much rambling.

    1. I think you should feel a lot less guilty. And make a few changes.

      Your mother is a capable adult. I’m not buying that she can’t decide to learn to use Google, of all things.

      What would happen if you suddenly became unavailable? If you weren’t there, or were taken up in the care of a sick child or spouse? Would she just decide that she can’t function and go die or something? Or would she figure out how to get by, maybe take an adult education course or look into senior living options?

      Because she can do those things now. She just doesn’t want to. She and you play this game where you both pretend she can’t do certain things and only you can do them. She likes the control that gives her. You don’t. So stop playing the game.

      Think about it — she’s sold or is selling a condo. How is she doing that in this decade without using the internet? It’s possible, but it’s more probable that she’s figured out another method for using the internet, other than asking you to do it. Or she’s using more old-fashioned methods without using the internet, just like she could call a travel agency if she just does not want to look up flights online.

      1. Fortunately for her selling the house, realtors are still a thing.

        I have to admit, I’ve meant to stop doing internet things for her over and over again. It just feels so petty when she has so little money that not having internet at her house is a significant cost saver. And of course there’s this bizarre responsibility I feel like “well I’ve been doing it for her so long, at 70-something now it’s ridiculous to think she can finally learn the internet”. It would be good for me to consider trying to (I guess) “cut her off” again.

        Thanks for the internet support.

        1. Annnnd I just spent a drunk hour on the internet reading about all the people with mothers much worse than mine and all I can think of is how needing to be her Google seems like the most minor thing in the universe and I am the whiniest brat.

          1. Hey there, I don’t know if you’re going to read this but I wanted to say that you’re not the whiniest brat. You’re allowed to feel annoyed at your mother’s behavior. Trying to guilt you into doing what she wants, constantly pushing at your boundaries, and trying to control your life by telling you the way she would do the things you’ve doing are legitimately annoying behaviors. Frankly, I wouldn’t want to be around someone who behaved like that more than absolutely necessary either (and I do have several family members I avoid for exactly that reason, including my own mother).

            I also wanted to point out something else. You say your mother has a tendency to put her wants and needs above everyone else’s. This is merely annoying behavior in a person you have an adult relationship with, but it can be extremely destructive to a child’s psyche. I don’t know how your mother behaved towards you when you were growing up, but it’s possible she did some significant damage. You are not a “brat” for being upset about behaviors that hurt you as a kid, even if they seem more or less harmless now.

  93. I invited what I thought was one person for one or two nights, and it has morphed into them staying for three nights, and someone else staying for one night. They also invited that person for two nights, and a third party I’ve never met for at least one night if not more. I’ve been going through the “boundaries” tag for scripts and inspiration.

  94. My mom’s having a holiday house party with a bunch of families from my school days. I got ostracized pretty badly in high school cause my fashion and way of acting wasn’t in line with the small town style of my peers (not knocking it it just wasn’t me). My coping mechanism was to double down and dress to impress. I talked with my mom how coming home sends me right back to the insecure high-school days of being ignored.
    So, I’m wearing a super cute white turtle neck and jumper combo to this party and she starts harping on what I’m wearing saying that I’m overdressed and the people my age are gonna be wearing jeans and I should change. After weeks of listening to her criticize my hair, my makeup, my lack of makeup, how I sit, how I stand, how I talk to people, and even my emotions I snapped. I told her to stop commenting on my appearance, how it makes me feel like shit, and just stop you are not allowed to do that anymore. Of course she responds with “well ~I~ appreciate when people tell me these things and it’s all from a place of ~love~ and you told me you felt isolated because of how you act so ive been trying to get you to act differently, you should be thankful you brat” with some added BS about how she thought we were bonding. I basically responded that we aren’t the same person and it sure doesn’t feel loving so just stop. Thank the goddess I’m flying home tomorrow.

  95. My problems seem really minor now, but it’s been so bad I’m thinking about boycotting Christmas altogether next year, although I know this will upset my wife.

    I’m an academic, and I had a one or two students in EACH class who couldn’t be arsed to turn in their work until the fifty-ninth minute of the eleventh hour, well after all deadlines. I would have been well within my rights to fail them but I am softhearted and the little shits take ruthless advantage of it. So I was grading up until the last minute when I had hoped to have a little time to work on NEXT semester and maybe even my own stuff.

    I do all the femme labor, including making truffles for all the family (my in-laws; I’m not in contact with most of my family), meaning six batches of truffles at 90-120 truffles each, plus two half-batches of vegan truffles for friends. I make, roll, pack, and mail them (packing alone is 6-8 hours of labor). My partner has said “you don’t have to do this,” but I know DAMN well that if I did not do this, she would not do anything equivalent — there would just be no presents at all for her family, except maybe her parents. I would feel ashamed. She doesn’t care. It doesn’t reflect badly on her if the labor’s not done. It’s femme work.

    I barely got it done this year, and I’ve had to give up making other kinds of candy because the obligations are too great — too many hours that conflict with my (underpaid) work.

    Then we go to visit the in-laws every year. We stay with a close friend, do Christmas Eve with her family, then go to all the in-law parties.

    This year was SO AWFUL.

    First, a close friend who should have known better made a terrible, triggering mistake in a card she sent. I was so upset I couldn’t even explain it, and my wife promised to explain and then forgot until today so the friend kept pestering me about not hearing back. She really, really, REALLY should have been able to figure it out on her own, but well.

    Then our friend’s family was so fucking racist that I lost count for the bingo card.

    Then her father decided to interrogate me about why I, a vegetarian, “was allowed to eat eggs, they come from animals,” at the breakfast table. I did not take his head off and make it into a festive Martha Stewart centerpiece, and I want an award for doing so.

    Then my spouse’s family was horribly racist (including the “poor little rich white boys have the hardest time getting into college!” I fucking teach college. This is NOT TRUE). And then one of her relatives decided it was a great time to ASK ME IF MY PARENTS WERE ALIVE. When I told her that I “considered myself an orphan,” curtly, she said “Oh, that sounds like a long story,” in the “don’t tell me any long stories!” voice. Like I would EVER tell someone anything intimate when they’re that rude and I don’t know them very well. Also, YOU ASKED, YOU NOSY POOPROOMBA. I said “It’s a very short story. I’m gay and they didn’t like that.”

    THEN she decided she needed to tell me that her daughter was gay AND IT MADE HER SO SAD.

    If looks could kill, I would be a basilisk, and I would also be traveling to D.C.

    I never have a good response. I hate holiday music so much I have been bolting out of stores and restaurants (I think it has something to do with childhood abuse). I have had so many awful nightmares over the past two weeks that I have stopped counting.

    But the worst thing is that this time of year I hate everyone and I feel as though I am a thoroughly awful person who just hides it better the rest of the time. I am seething and angry and full of nasty things I really WANT to say to all these horrible people.

    And GOD my spouse’s parents are racist. SO FUCKING RACIST. It’s like sitting in a room with someone you thought was a normal person and then some alien chestburster of a remark comes out. I’m just not prepared for dealing with acid-blooded pest reduction.

    1. Wow, what a shitstorm! I’m sorry this is happening to you. It really, really stinks. I’m so sorry. What is wrong with people that they think they can just say any damn thing and it’s ok?

    2. Okay, let’s see if I can get this img tag right 🙂

      Also that sounds absolutely miserable and stressful and not the least bit restoring when you really needed a break 😦

        1. Thank you SO MUCH. It made me laugh and I really needed to! 🙂 🙂 <– I like the old-school smileys!

          1. AUGH! What happened to my real smileys? THEY CONVERTED. I HATE THAT. But not enough to remove a head over it.

    3. That sounds truly awful MollyGrue. You know at least some of those racist relatives are saying the same stuff about you behind your back.. They probably feel they’re so generous not to insult you to your face. Sigh. But really what bothers me most about your letter is the doormat aspect. Stop allowing students to ruin your sorely needed break with their procrastination. Flunk them, give them an incomplete, this has to stop and it’s not your problem. What is your problem is you continuing to frazzle yourself making truffles for racists. Please, please, continue to enjoy making truffles for friends. But just buy cookies for the racists. More exactly, have your wife decide what cookies she’ll buy for her own damn family. If she fails to do so and you two can’t show your face there, it’ll be a plus. But you can’t continue to put yourself through the wringer trying to please the racist family of someone who can’t be bothered to take any responsibility for it. I beg you MG, take care of yourself..

  96. I’m trying (not very successfully) not to look at this year as awful, but it’s been pretty bad.

    This time last year I was pregnant, after fertility treatment, and having to end my (very much wanted) pregnancy because it was ectopic/life threatening. It took *weeks* to end (with chemotherapy; much longer than it should have because the fetal heartbeat wouldn’t stop) and then I had to have a D&C.

    Right around that time, my husband emotionally checked out, accused me of having borderline personality disorder (I don’t), and gave me a list of things I needed to change if he was to continue staying married to me. So I made all those changes (they were not insignificant, and, in hindsight, I really should have recognized that once one person is giving the other person ultimatums over things like what they eat, The Relationship Is Effectively Over). But I loved him, so I did what he asked.

    We went to couples’ counseling all year. He kept telling our counselor that he was going to divorce me if things didn’t get better by the end of the year. I didn’t realize at the time that his unhappiness had nothing to do with me. It was him. I kept trying to change to become the person he wanted me to be.

    Mid-year, he started asking me to read self-help books about how to be more subservient. I read several, and I tried. I stopped at a book by Dr. Laura, though. I couldn’t stomach that one.

    Then he wanted to go on a very specific type of vacation (a cycling trip), and he said our marriage would be over if I didn’t go, so I found and planned a trip over Christmas to Hawaii. I purchased and was learning how to ride a road bike to go on our trip. My first time on the bike, I got into an accident that required stitches, and I still have bruises and will always have a scar from that injury. The next week, I got back on the bike and kept at it. Because I loved him and wanted to make him happy.

    Two weeks before Thanksgiving, he said he was letting go of wanting to get divorced. The week before Thanksgiving, he said he wanted a divorce. The week of Thanksgiving, he filed for divorce. I was devastated. I now realize it was a gift. It still hurts like hell, though. He said he’s rather be alone than married to me. Welp, likewise.

    So I moved out of our house, because, as he pointed out, I can’t afford the house (and I didn’t want to be anywhere near him), and he went on the trip to Hawaii without me. He’s there now.

    Last night, while I’m on my own trip out of state (with extended family), my dog had to be put down, unexpectedly. She was old and had a good, long life, but I didn’t think my dog was going to die at the end of what has, so far, been the worst year of my life.

    To top all this off: I only have a few fertile years left, and I still want a family. I’m having to start all over. This is not where I thought I’d be in my mid-thirties.

    1. I just wanted to let you know that I saw this and was troubled on your behalf. I’m sorry you had to endure everything — fertility treatments and then having to end a wanted pregnancy sounds nightmarish, and I don’t know how I would handle it if I were in a similar position. As to your recent history with your husband, the suspense cycle he put you through seems unfair to you in the extreme. And I’m sorry your dog died.

      I hope that you have comfort and a place where you feel safe. I hope you get to do things that make you feel you’re being yourself. I want you to have everything that you want, to have a family, even though it means starting over. But right at this time, I also want you to be OK and have the space to heal, whatever form that takes for you.

  97. On Christmas Eve my wife K and I drove 200 miles to my wife’s niece’s home for the holiday. Niece’s mom P is my wife’s sister and she lives in our city but drove out separately, declining our offer of a ride. Unbeknownst to us, my wife and I had been invited to a Boxing Day party at P’s friend’s home; we’ve known her for years. Just after Christmas dinner, I heard P take a call from her friend B and say, “No, they can’t make it. They have a plumbing problem in their kitchen and have to go home Monday.” At that, I realized that she had connived to keep us away from the party. Neither of us cared about the party itself but we are deeply hurt that she would go to such lengths to exclude and deceive us. She did something similar for 6 years a decade ago and the charade ended only when the cookout hostess asked us why we had never attended the party; after all, she had asked P to invite us. I told her that we had never received the invitations. After that, the hostess invited us directly but it caused a large argument and hurt feelings b/c P’s deviousness had been exposed.

    I’d walk away from P and good riddance for the many times she’s hurt my wife but I suspect that P would turn her daughters against us and that would devastate K so we’ll just keep pretending to feel like members of the family.

    1. If the niece is old enough to host you at her home, you don’t have to go through her mother to have a relationship with her. And what P did to you – not just once, but repeatedly – is beyond the pale. You do not have to put up with it, you do not have to pretend everything is fine, and you can tell the niece directly why you’re spending time with her and not with P.

      1. Thanks for your input, and I know you’re absolutely right, but I think my wife has to be fed up enough to make the break. The sister calls when she needs something and has been to our home a handful of times in the 19 years we’ve been together, despite invitations. Everyone will be together for NY eve so I may get a chance to say something if the Boxing Day party is mentioned.

  98. A year and a half ago, I reconciled with my ex husband. For many months we kept it a secret – even from our kids – just to make sure we were doing the right thing. 9 months ago, I finally told my parents and my sister. They were shocked and not happy. Former relationship with ex got pretty bad and family knows all the details and blames him for everything. The truth is, we were both at fault and had a lot of growing up to do. Things between us now are really good. But as holidays neared, my sister excluded me from several annual events that involved both family and friends. She says friends don’t want to be around my ex and that I am welcome and so are my kids, but ex is not. I have taken it in stride, telling myself that they just need more time, but with holidays actually here, I find myself hurt, angry and resentful. Sister has a huge Christmas day gathering with friends and I wasn’t invited. Thought I could handle but seeing pix on Facebook has me torn up. We spent xmas eve with my parents and sister but not xmas day. It’s painful because logic says why should I care to be with those who don’t accept me, but it really hurts to not be wecomed. Sister bought special lobster dinner as xmas present to be shared at future date. So she will spend time with me and ex as long as others aren’t involved, but this also hurts a lot. Feel like cutting her off. Obviously so-called friends are not really my friends. Most dropped contact after my sister told them about reconciliation, but still have friendship with one or two. Saw them in FB pix at my sister’s too. Feel betrayed that they would go along with her exclusionary decision. Should I just forget about it and let it go, or should I confront her or cut her off?

    1. You don’t say how long you were married before the divorce and how long you were divorced before you reconciled. How much did you verbally bash the ex- and pull friends into the fray? Was your ex- cruel to friends or family? Did he make scenes at group gatherings? Are apologies needed? You don’t have to answer these questions but they are to make you think about why your friends don’t want to be around your ex-. Your sister is willing to spend time with him and you; start there and give it some time. Good luck!

    2. You’re lucky your sister is going to such lengths to include both of you. It’s only natural for people who love you to be concerned about the situation degenerating again to its former state, as that’s usually what happens. I ‘m glad you seem to think you’ ve both changed so much, but please understand that it’ll probably take years of happiness and mutual respect before friends or family are willing to trust again, so far they have no reason to, only grave cause for alarm.

  99. I need to vent.

    I’m starting to realize why people don’t like Christmas (I always hated Thanksgiving). It was pretty awful for me since a part of my life ended with a whimper. I graduated with a masters degree and wanted to walk. Even telling my parents about it weeks before hand. Well as soon as it was time to make plans, I got told that my parents would be hosting a holiday party. Behold my crushed heart, my chance to not fight back thoughts of walking into traffic like what happened at my BA ceremony. A day before said party, my parents cancel it.

    I’ve spent the next week trying to not to succumb to a deep depression while being told I’m spoiled child. You know, in spite of the fact when they ask me what I wanted for presents, I gave list of moderately priced books that total under $100. Let’s just say I’m now being “ungrateful” because the stuff I got is too much and uhhh… Not me? It’s stuff my parents want and think they’re disabled 30 year old son would pass it on to them. The worst part is that this has repeated since I was in my twenties with the buying stuff that is no interest to me and I feel bad that I have to figure out how to dispose things and lying to be polite.

    Folks, don’t joke or say anything to a child about being spoiled. I knew it was a malicious word as a kid, and I’ve gotten a complex over it. I want nice things, but that fucking word made it so I feel like I can’t buy it or do it. For that matter, I really need some shirts and new shoes, but I’ve been delaying cause I know my fucking family is gonna say I’m spoiling myself. Really fucks with your whole self-care issue.

    There’s the whole golden child thing that I’m sure my brother thinks is me, but I think it’s him. My parents brag about him all the time, and while it’s for good reason… I feel like an extra in a movie. Feeling special when I get some acknowledgement or say a line.

    My family isn’t even bad, but they suck, ABSOLUTELY SUCK, at seeing my real self. They deny that I’m guy, an effeminate one but still a guy. They deny that I’m dating a lovely woman. They guilt trip or ignore me for being depressed or anxious. I got some emotional neglect issues, but the smash up of this shit just made me realize that I want to spend next Christmas with my girlfriend.

    I am disconnected to humanity and my family, and I’m upset about it because I want to belong. I’m just tired of trying and being a temporary object to people, and this holiday about connection with people is making me like an alien.

    1. Medi, I really sense your pain and my heart hurts for you. Your family has been cruel to you by planning an event that competed with your graduation plans and cancelling your previous party. They’ve been cruel to judge your “guy-ness” and deny your relationship. They absolutely suck! Are you able to limit your contact with them? Can you find a therapist to deal with this abuse? Because that’s what it is, and your depression and anxiety are probably related to it. Find an interest or hobby group for developing relationships that reflect your true self back to you. Don’t let your family define you because you are SO much more than their limits. Many of us have broken away from the BS; you can, too. Sending you Jedi hugs if you want them.

  100. I am struggling to not be upset. Communication with my partner keeps going awry in a way that is difficult and triggers a lot of other stuff for me about being invisible and worthless [mostly because we keep getting into a situation where I think we are in a conversation and he does not think we are in a conversation and it takes me a while to figure out that is what is happening] and I’m finding it upsetting that my options are pretty much to put up with it or to stop talking to him. not talking is better for me even if it is really hard for me to do and I find it upsetting to need to decide this. This is temporary, it is like this because he is away over new year doing other stuff so it will get back to normal in a week or so, I’m just finding it very hard going now.

  101. I just want to say I’m happy the shitshow is over for this year.

    It was rough; it gets rougher every year as I see the abuse, the manipulation, and the denial of reality more clearly, but don’t necessarily have the courage or the resources yet to either not care or point it out honestly (or both). But what matters for now is that it’s over, and I’m back in my own home with my partner (who is great), and I can keep moving forward with my life again.

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