Dreading the Holidays

As Thanksgiving approaches, I find myself getting more and more anxious about it. Last year’s Thanksgiving was very difficult for me. I left my parents’ feeling deeply depressed, almost to the point of despair. I could talk at length about why, but the short answer is I felt like no one in my family really understands me or accepts me.
All my life I have always felt different, and have never found anyone who truly understands me. I’ve had close friendships, but none of them last more than a few years at a time. There was a time, from young childhood to my early 20’s, when I felt like i could take refuge in my family. I felt like home was the one place I could be myself and be accepted. But, that started to change in my mid-20’s. I think that’s why the holidays are so difficult for me now- because I was so used to feeling loved and safe while with my family, and now that I don’t, I feel like I will never find that security and love again.
I don’t really know what changed, but now I don’t feel like my family really takes me seriously or wants to hear about how I’m doing. For example, last Thanksgiving when my brother asked me if I hung out with my co-workers, as I was telling him “no, I really don’t have anybody I hang out with.” he was looking at his wife and smiling at her. If i was just a one-time thing, maybe I could overlook it, but these sorts of things happen all the time when I’m around my siblings and parents.
Anyway, I didn’t mean to post on here to complain. I want to ask for advice (and prayers, too, if you can spare them!). I’ve talked to my therapist about these at length, and she’s told me that I’m not obligated to spend Thanksgiving with my family. I do understand that, but it just doesn’t feel right to me. I could see it working if I had an invitation from one of my friends, and I could tell my family that I want to spend Thanksgiving with them. But I don’t have any friends right now. If I don’t go to my parents’, I’d be spending Thanksgiving alone. While this may sound awful to most people, spending Thanksgiving alone actually sounds heavenly right now. But, the fact that I feel that way bothers me. I’m just wondering what the right thing to do is. I really would just like to stay home, rest, catch up on chores, read, etc. and not have to risk feeling deeply depressed again. Despite all that, family means a great deal to me, and I care deeply about them. I hate that things are the way they are, and wish I could repair them. I feel like I’ve tried so many times, and if anything, we just drift farther apart. I’m so tired of trying. Is it ok to stop trying?

May God bless you. I have several friends who have opted to take a pass on celebrating Thanksgiving in company, at different times and for various reasons. May the Holy Spirit be your aid as you discern your course of action and may you find peace in the results of your decision. Amen.
I will offer up my Mass for your and your family tomorrow.


“I don’t really know what changed, but now I don’t feel like my family really takes me seriously or wants to hear about how I’m doing. For example, last Thanksgiving when my brother asked me if I hung out with my co-workers, as I was telling him “no, I really don’t have anybody I hang out with.” he was looking at his wife and smiling at her. If i was just a one-time thing, maybe I could overlook it, but these sorts of things happen all the time when I’m around my siblings and parents.”

I was having a look at your old posts, and one explanation that comes to mind for why your friendships don’t last and that your family is no longer as supportive as they used to be is that you are emotionally high-maintenance and you wear people out. This is not necessarily your fault (you have certain mental health issues, right?), but it’s not their fault either if they find you exhausting. You sound really conscientious and eager to do the right thing, which is very good, but I would suggest working on social skills with your therapist. It may be that whatever you were planning to say to people, you need to learn to edit down to 25-50% of what you were originally planning to say, and save the rest for your therapist, confessor or spiritual director.

Best wishes!

Depression is horrible. If you struggle with that, I will pray that you can persevere.

When people use the verb “feel”, or any of its conjugations, I think they are discussing emotional responses. Granted, maybe some substitute “feel” for “think”. We are definitely emotional creatures, though. I find my own emotions to be a thorn in my side. It seems they often get in the way of me seeing truth and doing God’s will. St. John of the Cross, In The Ascent of Mount Carmel, talks about this.

….As a result, Boethius claimed that if you desire a clear understanding of the truth, you must cast from yourself joys, hope, fear, and sorrow. As long as these passions [emotions] reign in the soul they will not allow it to live in the tranquility and peace necessary for the wisdom it can receive naturally and supernaturally.

However, if you can put emotion aside for a bit, what does your intellect tell you? Are things in actuality how you “feel” they are?

I think this is very common about not wanting to spend Thanksgiving with family.

If you believe it’d be that uncomfortable, to a point it’d put you into a depression to be around the family on that day, then I definitely think you should stay at home!

Yes, body language, and many other things, can help us feel like we’re welcome or not. I agree that your brother didn’t sound like he was listening.

Did you realize that as much as 80% of communication is said to be non-verbal? So absolutely, if you are seeing these kinds of dynamics, I think there is something there.

Life’s too short to be unhappy like that when you don’t have to be!

Good luck and God bless! I’ll just close with a prayer, now.

Hail Mary, Full of Grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blest is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen. :angel1:

Did you ever stop to think you might have matured, Grown up, and out grown your family ?
As we get older, we change, our perceptions change , we see things differently ,
There all happy gossiping about you, well let them gossip, because you don’t need to bother with there silly attitude towards you, you are your own person now ,
When you were a child you felt the security of home life,
You are no longer a child, you are now an adult, time to make your own home,and if they can’t accept you for who you are then that is there loss,
Think positive at all times, when you get lonely and sad, which we all do,
Play and sing happy songs that make you happy, avoid negative people because they will only drag you down,
Plus good faithful friends are hard to find for anyone,it’s not just you,
Maybe try sports clubs, They could have things happening, then you can tell the family ,well I’m really busy ,but maybe you can spare the time to visit,

Nicely stated.:bible1:

Is it January 2nd yet?:shrug:

I don’t know all the ins and outs of you and your family and none of us do here. What does your therapist say?

What came to mind was Mother Teresa. She took care of the dieing, and when young women came to help, she told them that if they cannot be cheerful, not to bother helping. (What a tall order that is! Gosh) If you are going to be with your family a few hours or a day, make up your mind that your gift to them is cheerfulness. Smile lots, give compliments, be helpful, and look to how you can minister to them. Do not go to be blessed yourself, give up on that idea since you know that doesn’t happen. Go to bless others. If they don’t know God, you will be Jesus in their midst. This is what we are called to do and if it’s difficult, you will be lying in bed at the end of the day telling Jesus that you worked for Him today and your reward will be in heaven. This is how we grow in our capacity, by being stretched bigger. No, it’s not easy. Thankfully God is in our midst, ready to help us. God bless and strengthen you today.

PennyinCanada said:

“If you are going to be with your family a few hours or a day, make up your mind that your gift to them is cheerfulness. Smile lots, give compliments, be helpful, and look to how you can minister to them.”


Figure out how much of a visit you can manage, and then do that.

I am trying to understand if your family is actually mean or abusive to you, or if they are genuinely trying but they just can’t give you what you are seeking?

From what you wrote it didn’t sound as if your parents or your brother was especially nasty to you, unless I missed something, it’s just that you feel misunderstood is that the core of the problem? I am not trying to dismiss your emotional needs or your concerns I am just trying to understand the situation better. You wrote that you were devastated after last Thanksgiving and your example was that your brother asked you if you hung out with your co-workers, and that he was smiling at his wife. Again I am not trying to dismiss your feelings you came here for support and I am happy to pray for you and try to help. I am just trying to get a better grasp on the family dynamic.

Remember too dear one, people will always let you down no matter who they are. Your sense of security and safety can never rest in human beings. Your sense of security has to be in Jesus Christ. God bless you and please be assured of my prayers.

Why don’t you look into volunteering on thanksgiving day? That can be very fulfilling. Help someone else that day, then relax the rest of the weekend. If you want to stop by for leftovers on the weekend that could be a good way to visit without spending too much time with them.

I really don’t know how much of what I feel is actuality. That’s something I’ve been trying to sort out for years with my therapist. It’s very difficult for me to discern, so I pray daily for wisdom and guidance.

Thank you for your kind words and advice. I have thought about that many times… we definitely have grown apart over the years, not for any particular reason, but because we have become very different people. We just don’t connect anymore.

My therapist has told me that I should never feel obligated to visit my family, nor feel guilty if I decide I need to stay home due to my mental well-being. Even though I know this is true, it still is difficult for me when everything in my is telling me to stay home, but part of me feels very guilty for doing that.

I definitely do make a concerted effort to be cheerful around my family, smile a lot, be helpful, be interested in their lives, listen to them, etc. I love my family and care about them a great deal. The thing is, after a few hours, I start to feel drained and depressed. When I’m around my family, i feel like all my quirks and differences are magnified. The longer I stay, the more depressed I get, because I feel like that if I can’t have a relationship with my family and be accepted by them, then who can I have a relationship with? It would be easier if there were some place that I felt accepted and loved, but I don’t have that place. So it’s extremely depressing when I’m in the one place I would think that I could be accepted, and I’m not.

Right- I’m hurt because I feel misunderstood and not accepted by them. They aren’t abusive or nasty to me- if they were, I wouldn’t feel guilty about choosing to spend Thanksgiving by myself. They are good people, I care about them a lot and really want to have a relationship with them, but we just can’t connect for a reason I can’t figure out. If I go for months without seeing them, the hurt fades away. But, it seems like every time I see them, the hurt gets more painful- like a bruise that keeps getting hit- because I get further confirmation that I am different form them all and will never have the kind of relationship I want with them, and I blame myself for it. Thank you for your advice and prayers- I really appreciate them!

I don’t know exactly your experience with your family but can relate somewhat. Let me tell you some wonderful advice I got from my husband (of all people…yes, sometimes he gives me wonderful advice hahahahaha!)

He told me after a few years of marriage that I was not being fair to certain family members, that I was expecting more of them then they were capable of giving me. I NEVER thought of it that way. I had a more ideal version of family and hopes of close family relationships where we could call one another with our problems and that we could be really close. I had to accept that my family was not capable of that. It wasn’t that my family members were mean to me, it’s that I was expecting something of them that they just couldn’t give me, they didn’t have it in them to give me and every time I saw them it was a pattern! I got my hopes up and then I left disappointed, over and over and over no wonder I dreaded the holidays!

I am not sure if this is your family pattern or not but perhaps this may help. Tell yourself that your family members are flawed and fallen. We are all broken! Tell yourself that your family members are not CAPABLE of supporting you in the way that you hope, this is different then being mean to you, they just are not capable and this may be something that you have to grow to accept. Once I was able to do this a feeling of freedom came over me it was wonderful. I still feel sad from time to time but my expectations are more realistic and I am finally free of the chains I was putting on family get-togethers.

Your family dinners may consist of small talk about the weather, saying “pass the potatoes” and “how was work this week?” Then you might have to leave early. Dear one this is not shallow, this is a family trying their best to work with what they have. You cannot keep going to the well where there is no water and then crying that you are thirsty. Go to the well of living water, Jesus Christ. In the meantime if you decide to go to Thanksgiving know that your family will not support you in the way that you wish but know that you will probably have good food, some small talk, perhaps a glass of wine, a chat about the weather and then leave. Not an ideal day but not the worst either right? You are a beloved child of Jesus Christ, Jesus knew from all eternity that THIS would be your family. Jesus knew since Adam and Eve, Moses and Abraham that you would be facing this Thanksgiving and Jesus chose this family for you deliberately. Do not put yourself in a crisis situation if you feel you cannot handle it, but do your best to grow in grace and virtue. May God be with you.

It sounds like your experience is similar to mine. Your advice is very helpful. I think I am being a bit unfair to my family members and expecting more from them than they can give. A big part of the problem is not having any friends to lean on at the moment.
In the meantime, I’ll work on accepting the way my visits with my family are, and try not to expect more than is possible from them. Thanks for your advice!

That sounds ok to me. :thumbsup: Many would be so incredibly grateful just to have that at Thanksgiving. :smiley:

mariagoretti24, I understand you want more, and I will be happy for you if you can have that some day.

Happy Christ the King Day!

I’ll share that at my loneliest point in life, I clung to Jesus. Jesus is real and present in the Eucharist; we can meet Him at Mass & in Eucharistic Adoration. Take it to Jesus.

In spending so much time at church to be close to Jesus, enrolled in RCIA ( I was clueless on what I did as a kid ), Alter & Rosry, Rosary Makers, St Cecila’s (singing for Alzehemers patients), choir, Adoration, and teachers aid. There was very little time to be lonly.

Our parish had “Christ the King” dinners for RCIA (past & present). This was much like Thanksgiving, but Christ centric. Some people I knew, others were new to me. It as very comforting. Later, I’d have Thansgiving with estranged family. I really prefered the “Christ the King” gatherings. Now, I’m married with kids so, we cannot make this celebration.

Alternative suggestions is volunteer at a place that serves Thanksgiving Dinner to the poor and lonly.

This is good.

I am trying to make myself also to focus on the good in people as opposed to looking at their faults. We tend to magnify what we focus on.

So if you do go, you could go for a short visit and just be as positive as you can for others. Then depart after a short visit to minimize the opportunity for others to be unpleasant.

That is sort of the way I handle office functions. Short visits.

Or you could choose to do something else. I will be alone most of TG because I have to be available to work. Thus, my wife will be traveling to see her family.

I will probably just go to Mass, work out, do some reading, or see a movie. I will try to remember to call someone who may be spending TG alone also.

Good luck.

I hope you have a joyous day. :slight_smile:

I hope you have a joyous day.

Thank you so much- I really appreciate you taking the time to wish me a good day! It was a challenging day, but I’m glad I made the effort to visit my family. I don’t think I would have had the courage to go had I not posted here first. I hope you had a goodThanksgiving!

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