By Tami Warren
As the holidays are approaching, many are pondering how to navigate family dynamics, which relatives to visit, where to seat people at the dinner table, and what to put on the menu. The holidays often provide the breeding ground for increased anxiety due to the pain induced by family ties, the obligatory chains that tether us to rituals of righteousness we have been programmed to obediently observe. This is not to devalue the importance of family nor the revelatory elements of knowing ones roots. I am the product of a dysfunctional parentage, suffocated by secrecy, I understand the wounds family creates, the scars masked by decoration, smiles and artificial sentiment. This doesn’t devalue my gratitude for the laughter and love provided. A word utilized to describe the state of social structures lately is divisive, perhaps the divisions being exposed are the measure of humanity, where our longitude and latitude meet, exposing the point of origin of who we are. We are seeing family members, co-workers, neighbors and ourselves for who we truly are, and in some cases that truth is causing our souls to shed the involuntary compulsion for blind agreement – awareness is breaking through our integument, laying bare our intentions. Those intentions may be pure, stark, brutal or harsh. Instead of being a robot in a regime of caustic customs, try a new path. Genealogy is not the sole factor in defining family makeup. We have the capacity to choose and create our own family. DNA does not dictate who we are allowed to love.
Ask yourself, if a family member were not your relative, would you actual choose him or her as a friend? Would their respective actions and behavior be that in which you would choose in friendship? I am giving myself permission to stop believing faux family folklore. The gluttony, gossip, and guilt sometimes perpetuated within families is not worth taking part in, choose to empower instead of enable your family and yourself.
Manipulating mothers, fraudulent fathers, sinister sisters, bullying brothers, abhorrent aunts, corrosive cousins or odious uncles are not required for the holidays or any day. If you were born into a family devoid of deep dysfunction, with family members whom you respect and enjoy – savor and appreciate that. If you are not member to this type of ancestry, may I humbly suggest an embrace of Stuart Smalley’s proclamation, from the 1995 film Stuart Saves His Family, look directly into the mirror of self-reflection and boldly state, “Today I declare emotional independence from my family.” This holiday season and everyday thereafter, choose people you enjoy being with, not who you are obligated to be with.