Everyone just pretend to be normal, OK?

Well, the end-of-year holiday season has begun! How are you feeling?

Are you dreading having to go visit people you know will create drama? Are you wondering what fresh hell you will have to go through this year? Or perhaps you are sitting there imagining playing the same old part in the same old, same old, same old conversations.

When I visit ‘home’, I know exactly what is going to happen. Everyone will pretend to be normal.

The food will be great. The party will be very small. The gifts will be useful and rather thoughtful. Everyone will be very very polite. Smiles, smiles, smiles.

My sisters will listen to my chatting with everyone very carefully. At any hint of my straying into a taboo topic, one of them will close down that path of conversation with a cheery statement and efficiently change the subject. One sister does it more aggressively than the other; more directly.

Somehow, it feels a bit more gratifying when it comes from her because underneath the shut-down, I can feel her acknowledge that what I have claimed about our father is true. He was abusive. She said (all those years ago when I told everyone) that she doesn’t believe me, but nowadays, I trust my intuition much more than anyone’s words. Spirit doesn’t lie. People do. 

Sometimes my mother strays unwittingly into a taboo subject and provides me an opening…. I could mention the extramarital affairs I saw; the grownups with hangovers that lasted all day and left me alone and hungry while they stayed in bed; the years upon years of family dinners eaten in silence. But I don’t. I don’t need to, anymore.

I used to feel crazy—was everyone pretending that this family was normal, or did they really believe it? Was everyone pretending to be happy or did they really believe that this was as good as it gets?

I used to leave these gatherings and drink, or cry, or drink and cry. My loneliness was excruciating, then. But now I think kindly of them in amusement and sometimes, sympathy. I am happy at the holidays.

Would you like to attend this year’s family gatherings in peace? Would you like to be in control of your own happiness these holidays?

Let me know if you do. I can teach you how. It took me decades to figure out, but I can teach you quickly—just in time for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas.

Much Love,

Reverend Steph