I’ve posted some, maybe all, of this here before. This issue comes up every holiday, even minor ones, and I’m at my wit’s end. I refuse to go to family holidays anymore. Years ago, DH and I moved far away, in reaction to my father throwing me on a bed and choking me. Thinking he’d changed, we moved back, now with a large family. Things were okay for awhile, but then slipped into my older sister screaming abuse at me and my daughter at holiday dinners, starting to hear the bizarre things my mother is saying about me to other people, and my dad going on a lengthy tirade of my faults and flaws, how he doesn’t like me, and can’t stand being around my kids, and much more.
After my dad’s tirade, I quit going to holidays at all. I feel they have unreasonable, unattainable expectations of kids. (Most people think my kids are quite well-behaved). I feel they have impossible expectations of me-- to keep all the kids 100% in line, quiet, obedient, no accidents ever, no crumbs or milk spilled, and never saying or doing anything to which any adult objects, and to do it while being sociable enough for my dad but not too talkative for my sister, and still manage to help with all the serving and cleaning up. And accept that if I can’t do this, anyone is entitled to scream abuse at me.
In doing some research, I found a chart on roles in the alcoholic family and it described my family of origin to a T, with the 2nd child often being the scapegoat. I look back over my life and see this over and over, where no matter how many hoops I jump through, I still keep hearing from mother, father, and 2 of the 3 sisters that I’m a problem. I’ve even been blamed for my parents’ marriage problems-- in the wake of my father beating up my mother!
So now, every holiday, we get the invitations. When I politely decline, my sisters often enough call my children directly and invite them (“We’ve got extra seats, we’ll bring you.”) One of these sisters has already blown up at me because she didn’t bring my daughter home AT ALL from babysitting one day and I asked her for a call next time plans change. So I know what reaction I’ll get if I ask them to stop doing this. My husband would be just as happy to go back to normal. The kids are unhappy that we’re not going to holidays. My family doens’t treat the older ones badly, so they’d like to go visit them. The younger ones don’t even like my parents (they say they’re mean), but like the big family gatherings and want to see my sisters.
For Thanksgiving, I’ve invited another family to join us, and once again declined the invitation. One of my sons is once again clearly disappointed and unhappy with me.
How do I handle this? I don’t want to badmouth anyone (my mother did this to us growing up and it was horrible to live with.) I’ve told the older kids, once or twice, some of the things that have gone on that they haven’t seen. It doesn’t seem to matter because they themselves aren’t seeing it or experiencing it.
Do I finally just tell my husband to take the kids and have a fun time? I think this sends the wrong message to the kids that abusing one family member is okay and I can either put up with it or exclude myself, and I’m also concerned about how some of the younger ones get treated by some family members.
Or do I just continue politely declining and being viewed as the bad guy by everyone, even (it seems), my own children?