Surviving a Family Reunion/Togetherness
Whew! In the month of October, I “survived” two family reunions or “get togethers”, back to back. One was with my sisters, nieces and nephews, and the other was with my husband’s family for my mother-in-law’s 90th birthday. I went into both of these events with the mentality that I was going to be hurt. I believed this not because I can predict the future but because that is what has happened over and over again, and this had become my norm. My norm would start with me talking to myself, asking myself the question, “Why are going to this and putting yourself in this situation? You know what’s going to happen.” Yet I still would go, and “yes”, I got hurt. So, the response to my norm became, “no expectations, no disappointments”. Unfortunately, I had expectations and was always disappointed.
I think me surviving my family reunion was more about me being the youngest of 8 children, and not always feeling as though I was being heard. I, at times, felt a little intimidated. My sisters are amazing; the strongest women I know, my role models, and my inspiration. So, it’s more about me speaking my truth around them. During a lot of our family togetherness times, we would have discussion about our feelings, our thoughts, emotions, etc. When I shared my feelings at the last reunion, it was not good for others to hear and it was knocked down as being incorrect. However, that was MY truth. Although I left my sisters’ reunion happy for our togetherness time, I was hurt because I wasn’t able to truly open.
After returning from my reunion, less than a week later, I went to my in-laws. Things that had led up to that time, were not looking promising for me not being hurt, because emotions were getting the best of me before I left. Things were said and/or not said, done and/or not done, by my in-laws. I started having butterflies in my stomach, feeling sick, emotionally in pain. But I went. Was it painful? A little. Did I enjoy it? A little. Was I glad I went? Yes!
To add icing on the cake, one of my daughters shared her truth with me, while on the trip to my in-laws, as to how she felt about some things; how she was angry with me; how she felt that I had lied to her. Was it painful? Yes! But it was her truth. Who am I to say whether it was correct or incorrect, as I had been told less than a week earlier after sharing my truth? She shared and I listened. I did comment here or there, when I felt it was an attack on me for the things I had said or what I had done. But this was about her, not me.
So, what did I do after these family times of sharing and some painful moments? I shut down. I held my breath until I could breathe again.
Later, after I had a chance to reflect on my own self-care, I realized for every action there is a reaction that I was in control of. So, for everything that has happened to me, it’s all been about my reaction to those things. If I choose to step back, take a breath (maybe a lot of breaths), and think about how I should react to that “thing(s)” that just happened or what was said to me, there will no longer be a battle with my emotions. I would be able to leave every family reunion, family togetherness, or talks with my daughters at peace. That’s all anyone ever wants is to be at peace.
So, if you’ve ever been hurt or are currently holding onto hurt from what someone (family, friends, etc.) said or did, to not contribute to your happiness, your peacefulness, step back, take a breath and think about your reaction. If you find your peace by telling that person your truth, do it. If you find your peace by forgiving or asking for forgiveness, do it. If you find your peace by not saying or doing anything at all, do it. It’s all your choice. Set expectations for yourself to have no disappointments.