Monday, January 5, 2009

Whew--family gatherings are over

While many people enjoy the relaxed pace over Christmas, with the chance to go sledding, watch movies, play games, sleep, and generally take a break from the race of the weekly grind, others did not find it as pleasant. Why?

Well, for the same reasons why some long distance truck drivers choose to do long haul work, or others accept the extra jobs at work or coach a team for endless hours. Many people are away from their family for legitimate and worthwhile causes and miss the family while away. Others are away from their family for legitimate and worthwhile causes and are relieved that the pressures and stresses of intimate family life are avoided for a few more hours. The challenges of intimacy with a spouse increase for many exponentially over Christmas week--time when the cracks get wider, the coldness gets frostier, and the loneliness of being with someone and yet disconnected becomes an ache that hurts more when the din of life is muted.

Then, add in the extra intensity of family gatherings. Many get together over Christmas with aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents that they see only a couple of times a year. While many of these gatherings are festive celebrations with great food and lots of laughs with sharing of good memories, others don't see them that way. Rather, these gatherings are times when the relatives drink too much and say things they shouldn't. Sometimes these gatherings require pasting on a fake friendly smile and forcing oneself to pretend to be enjoying oneself, when a peson would rather be anyplace else. How does one go to a family gathering and pretend the uncle that molested you when you were a child is no different than the others?

We don't get to choose the family we're born into. And the family that we marry into--well, some wonder how that morphed so far from the original dream.

At Bergen and Associates, January is typically a busy month--it typically is "post family gathering" season, as people come to figure out how to relate to family, how to figure out how they want to related to family, so that this next year doesn't have to have the painful like in the previous year. It is a chance to say "not another year like the last one", as people realize that they want to dare to risk to be open and vulnerable to create a new relationship with a spouse, or dare to stand up and say, "no thanx" to the grandma who is pushy and inappropriate.

Whether it be through personal contemplation, journalling, prayer, or counselling, if you are one of those people who "had it up to here " (put hand up to forehead), may you find a way to negotiate family better in 2009

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