Don’t Pack For The Guilt Trip
Around this time of year I used to get the guilt trip from my mother when I lived hours away. When are you coming home for Thanksgiving and what plans are we going to make for Christmas. It was so stressful. Overwelming guilt and I never could please her. Our relationship was toxic at best. I focus on the happy memories and try to not dwell on the negative. She is now gone and holidays are a lot easier as we only have my husband’s mother to worry about. We alternate who goes so she is not overloaded. Christmas (and my birthday) this year is just for us. That got me thinking about always feeling guilty around the holidays.
Families Are Spread Out Now
There was a time when generations of families lived in the same cave, making going home for the holidays a ‘no brainer’. But it did not take long for people to start exploring new lands, and moving away from Mom and Dad became the norm, rather than the exception. Today, people move many time zones away from their familial home for lots of reasons: jobs, love, an itch to see new places, etc.
Many of us simply needed to put some mileage between us and the family. Those of us that grew up in less than ideal situations especially. Some families are just toxic to one another. We get along much better in small doses, and preferably by phone or email, with an occasional FaceTime thrown in. That doesn’t mean that we don’t love our parents; but the truth is that there is a reason that we live a 5 hour plane trip away, making casual visits pretty much impossible.
Welcome to the Holiday Guilt
Unfortunately, we very often try to forget this reason when the holidays come around, and we see our friends excitedly making plans to head home for the holidays. We feel like there must be something wrong with us that we have no desire to spend hundreds of dollars and fight the traveling herds to head home.
And the guilt starts to sink in…there must be something wrong with me that I don’t want to go home to see my family. It’s the holidays and I should be home with my family, right?
Take Stock — What do You Want?
No, not right, not unless you actually WANT to be home with your family. You’re an adult now, and you have a right to spend time with the people that you WANT to spend your time with. You should never spend time with ANYONE – whether they share your DNA or not – unless you actually want to.
Instead of feeling guilty about not going home for the holidays – sit down and make a list of the good memories and the bad memories you have from your last visit home. Be honest. Be brutal.
Ask yourself these critical questions:
- How much do you dread going home?
- How long does it take to recover your sense of self worth?
- How long does it take to get back into your normal work flow when you get home?
For the entrepreneur, these are critical issues: we usually have no one but ourselves to answer to, and no one but ourselves to keep us motivated. If your family disapproves of or denigrates your core means of supporting yourself – how does that impact you when you have to deal with it in person?
The truth is, you may be better off, emotionally and financially, by not going home for the holidays. Perhaps a short visit after the first of the year, a time when the expectations are lower, and the stress is less, may be healthier for all involved.
Putting Your Needs First
But as we all know – making the decision is only one small part of the process. Calling home and facing the ensuing guilt trip is the biggest part and where most of us cave. I admit to resorting to the end of the year work crunch simply because it is easier than admitting the truth. I simply don’t want to be there with them. But the point is, I have decided to stop feeling guilty about it. I moved away from home for a reason – daily contact with my family is not good for me, my self-esteem or my business. Instead, I enjoy the holidays with my husband, doing what we want to do, instead of what we feel obligated to do.
It’s become a time of regeneration, self-care and renewal, rather than recovery and self-doubt, as it was for most of my life. So stop packing that suitcase…no guilt trip this year, ok?