"Survived" the holidays with toxic relatives. You?


I survived the holiday, but feel exhausted , angry, and frustrated. How is that 1 or 2 people can push all of my buttons in a matter of minutes/hours over the course of 1 day??? I pray, go to Confession, and prepare myself mentally for facing “certain” family members before seeing them. During the visit it seems I’m holding it together, but then I come home and decompress for several days! I’m irritable and impatient, and just want to be alone. If someone asked what exactly it was that got to me, i really couldn’t explain it! How can I deal with these people better? Help!


We solved that problem - we don’t spend Thanksgiving with family, only with a close group of friends. We save family for Christmas, and then not even on Christmas day, we do it about a week or two before hand. Then we have the actual day to ourselves. It has cut down tremendously on stress. I love my Dad more than I can say, but spending the holidays with his wife’s family, is not something I’ve ever enjoyed, so now that I’m married my DH and I make our own plans. Everyone has gotten used to the idea now, and I now absolutely LOVE and look forward to the holidays.

I know this is not an option for everyone, but it worked for us. I hope next year will be better for you. Life is too short to be miserable and with people you don’t want to be around.



Thanks lizaanne. I think because there are more people that I want to see than not, we still make the effort. Plus my kids love to get together on the holidays with cousins, etc. I don’t want to take that away from them. I know there will come a time when we just don’t “do” holidays with certain relatives. However, I now look at it as a time to endure people rather than enjoy! I’ve had some counseling, spiritual direction, and priestly advice…all of which I’ve tried to employ at such times! Why does it pretty much go out the window when i try so hard. I guess there’s really no good advice, eh? I feel embarrassed as I just realized I wrote a similar thread LAST YEAR at this time. It just feels like a vicious cycle that I can’ t break. I’m sure I’m not 100% perfect in this situation, but I do know that I’m TRYING. I guess if I look back on things, it is a little bit better than last year…:crying:


On the bright side, its good preparation for some hard core penance.:thumbsup:


I barely survived. Thanksgiving itself went okay because my sister and I avoided each other so we wouldn’t fight and upset mom. The day after though…that was bad. My mom, dad and I spent nearly all day yelling and screaming at each other. My mom and I had a very long and emotional talk afterwards so it worked out alright but it was still super stressful. I’m getting to where I don’t want to go anywhere near home for holidays. :frowning:


I guess I’m doubly blessed. There are no toxic relatives on my side of the family, and Miss Bonnie’s mother was 800 miles away.

In any case, Miss Bonnie and I were alone for the holiday.


You are welcome. :slight_smile:

You might enjoy THIS as well. My husband’s radio segment recently about Family. From the Saint Michael’s Media podcast page.



Your title sounds like a reality show!

No really though, we quit doing it years ago. I wouldn’t go through it again if you paid me. I have a very toxic family on my mom’s side, VERY TOXIC and it’s a threat to my sanity to even attempt regular visits, much less a holiday. What’s sad is they TRY to get along for holidays, but in that attempt they are that much more intense and difficult. Some families don’t feel familial unless they are yelling. Save it for the pumpkin pie to point out everything they despise about your very existence. LOL After much drinking, and little merry-making. Oh man it’s a nightmare.

One day maybe you’ll just skip it. Tell them you love them, hence the reason you are going skip the turkey with the side of drama. :thumbsup:


Boy, I need some "hard core"penance after all my angry thoughts…:smiley:


I’m so sorry. That is really just so sad. Prayers out to you.


I take it having Miss Bonnie’s mother 800 miles away is a blessing?:wink:


Wow! That is powerful lizaanne. I hope everyone who reads this thread listens to that. I’m tearing up!!:crying:


LOL on the reality show reference! It is really interesting to hear how many people actually do skip the family gathering thing for the holidays. Many of the heavy drinkers in our families have either quit, slowed way down or died due to their drinking. Some are no longer invited, so at least that problem is diminished. Not too much yelling, just little nasties all day long…sigh Once the kids aren’t having fun anymore, it’s just over. They(the kids) still do enjoy it, and when given a choice of going away for the holiday or visiting with the relatives, they still choose seeing their cousins! I guess that’s what keeps guilting me into it. I guess I will have to just offer it up for the poor souls in Purgatory or something. I enjoy hearing how others handle it. Please keep sharing if you want. Thanks!


I feel your pain. I have been slowly learning to deal with these toxic situations, and learning a lot in the process! One of the things I have learned is not to assume God’s Will is for us to “endure” holidays with family members.
We do have a responsibility to protect ourselves. It is wrong that you are so discombobulated after what is supposed to be a pleasant holiday. It must be very bad and I am thinking that people are behaving in a way that is hurtful to you? Maybe saying offensive things and you are being polite and just keeping it all in? You don’t get very specific, so I may be projecting here, but I will tell my opinion anyhow for whatever it is worth.:slight_smile:

Two scenarios
If you KNOW someone is in a room and when you enter it, they are going to punch you in the face, do you think it is God’s will for you to keep going in there, enduring the punch in the face? You do have a say in your own life, Gianna. What if that someone has kids there, and your kids have a lot of fun during the time you are getting punched in the face? There are other ways they can have fun, that doesn’t involve their momma having to take days to recover. When you are feeling so out of sorts, relationships are affected. Is it God’s will for you to knowingly allow people to do this to you? Does attending these functions HELP or HINDER you in your primary vocation?

If you KNOW someone is in the room and when you enter it, they are going to punch you in the face. You say, I like this room, and I hope we can share it, but you may NOT punch me in the face ever again, or I will NOT come into this room with you. It may be God’s Will that you stand up for yourself! Then you won’t feel bad. You won’t feel helpless and exhuasted because you DON"T HAVE to endure anything. You can CHOOSE to endure it, OR NOT. If you cannot choose than you are better off staying away and allowing God to strenghen you so that you can, because …

**Your yes doesn’t mean anything if you do not have the freedom to say no. **


I didn’t survive. Our family had a major falling out, and my immediate family has decided not to associate with the rest of our relatives, at least for a while. Money and the silly competition that goes on between people today has really broken us apart. Not to mention the religious differences…oy gefilte fish! I certainly hope that others had a much better Thanksgiving than we did.


Sis? Is that you?
I told you not to go to mom’s! You know Ernie asked me if I wanted to go to mom’s and I gave him a dirty look and said “Why do you want to ruin our day?”

You know I love mom and dad but all the negative things that they say and all the arguing and making me feel like I am worthless, no matter how hard I try, I figured I’m condemned either way. So I chose to stay home.

And you know how mom calls around 11:00 am to tell me she got her turkey in the oven before me? Well now it’s “How many people came to your house?” And “I don’t know what I would do without Deedee!” Our older sister has been out of our lives for 8 years and comes back because mom has a stroke and now she’s the saint!

Meanwhile this good for nothing daughter has spent her weekend getting mom and dad’s bills together so I can pay them. Ernie is mad because I run around paying these bill and dropping them off and picking up their mail and all I hear is “I don’t know what I would do without Deedee.” and “Kellie did you pick up my mail?” and “Did you pay my Sears bill?” oh and “Kellie can you call the doctor’s office?”

Please if Deedee is so great I wouldn’t be needed. Oh and when I went over to give mom her mail (minus the ones I shredded and the junkmail) Deedee says “Did you just wake up?” My reponse for the 20th time was “Dee I work graves when do you think I should sleep?”

So sorry sis. I just needed to vent. Ernie, and our 5 children are doing well. I’ll let you know more about Sierra’s wedding she still hasn’t picked the date. I’m hanging in there. Praying,breathing,crying and a glass of wine helps…maybe two.
Godbless and Happy Holy Days!


Oh no! I’m sorry about your family. Sometimes, it really is just years of build up, isn’t it? Maybe that’s why it’s difficult to put a finger on the exact problems in families. I’ll say some prayers for you.


My dh said the same thing!! We had an opportunity to do something else, but because the kids wanted family, we stayed home. He hasn’t said “I told you so”, but he means it! Well, “sis”, let’s just you and me get together next year, okay? :slight_smile:


It was tough to be specific, because the little digs here and there are meant just for me. The history behind such remarks is what makes them mean and painful. Because I’ve set boundaries and put up walls against the toxic relatives, they are even more anxious to get out what they can when they DO see me. If that makes sense? I’ve pretty much cut out the heavy drinker people, and the people who attack my faith/morals when I have a family function. I also have decreased my attendance at all of those “in between” family activities(i.e. non-holiday, non-wedding type things). So, I’m like this target of sorts when I do show up to something. It’s funny you mention going into a room…I really do avoid being alone and in the same room with the toxic people. I tend to keep within a group. I’m a master at “finding something to do” if confronted. I guess that’s why it’s exhausting. Always trying to change the subject or feign distraction when subjects are brought up. Thanks for sharing.


Yeah, we survived. But then, it was just the two (and a half) of us. Holidays used to be a drag because we had several levels of family drama that complicated how/where we would spend the holidays. (Wife’s family shunned her after she became Catholic and married me). But this year we’re too broke to travel across the country to see my family, so we just stayed home and made an embarassingly decadent feast.

Speaking of which, try this sometime:

*]Before sticking the turkey in the oven, slather it in garlic and butter sauce.
*]Cook the turkey in a fully can of chicken base. (If this makes no sense, it’s because I didn’t actually do the cooking. I’m writing this from memory).
*]About an hour before it’s done, coat the turkey in pomegranate sauce.

It’ll curl your toes.

My family’s Thanksgiving didn’t go so well, alas. As usual, my socially inept mother pushed the wrong buttons and basically acted like a rhino in a China shop. I love her, and I’m not blaming all the problems on her, but she really needs to learn some social skills–especially with my macho never-talk-about-anything-important-like-feelings family. She once again managed to get a relative–and he’s a really good guy–to unload both barrels into her before storming out. It appears that my dad has pretty much had it. He stormed off and hadn’t come home as of the next evening. I don’t know where things stand now, but mom is talking separation. She’s defiant and totally unwilling to compromise “her needs” “in her own home.” Dad, for his part, is at best a caretaker of the family. He acts as though he doesn’t even like her, and as far as being a father, well, I’ll just say I’ve always felt like an orphan around him.

It ripped me up when I got the news, but I expected this 15 years ago. If it comes down to having to choose which parent I visit on the holidays, I choose “niether.” I love them both, but even I know that there’s a certain bare minimum you have to do, even if it makes you uncomfortable. Both of them don’t seem to care to do it. Blah.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.