ASK RAVEN: HOLIDAY EDITION

 

Headed home for Thanksgiving and I'll be seeing family members I don't have the best relationship with... mainly because they tend to be less progressive on issues I care about. They've used the F word to address Queer people for example, and I have put them on ice instead of addressing it. Any advice on how to not back out of a conversation? I know my thoughts might make a difference, but also think about creating a scene and or my self-preservation.

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-Thanksgiving Thoughts


Dear TT,

If you are having a difficult time figuring out how you are going to wade through the gravy-flavored-shark-infested- waters of the holiday season, welcome! Welcome friend. Holidays are notoriously difficult emotionally and let's face it, financially! I know I spend months budgeting, saving, determining what I am going to spend and what I'll buy on Black Friday. I even plan for the after-holiday sales. 

When it comes to the emotional cost of the holiday season I suggest you think about how you want to spend your emotional capital. With our families, we have the unusual advantage of understanding exactly what kind of fresh hell we can look forward to encountering. From Trump supporting Tios, homophobic aunties, and grandmas who talk shit about your "pelo malo”.  We can usually get ahead of the problematic-conversation game.

My advice is  BUDGET.  Ask yourself, what topics do I want to tackle? How much X (patience, pain, emotion, sanity) is this conversation going to cost me? Is it worth the price? What do I prioritize talking about? Planning how we want to utilize or spend our emotional capital is a great way to prepare for conversations that feel necessary or not worth our time.  In a pinch, I use the golden rule I try to live by when I am not sure if I should bring something up. 

"Does it need to be said? Does it need to be said by me? Does it need to be said right now?"


Write it down, memorize it, make it your screensaver, have your friends text it to you. This has saved me from engaging, especially when I'm being goaded into an argument. I understand that sometimes there are conversations we must have for the sake of our values, morals, and safety. I also understand what its like to start a conversation I want to have, but am not really prepared to have. I suggest planning what you might want to discuss with whom. Determine which conversations feel most important, determine what your own red lines are.


I moved to a big city to pursue my passions and don't get to go home as often, this is the first holiday season I will not spend with my family... and although I have some friends, I still can't help but feel lonely. Would love a new POV on how to tackle how I'm feeling.

- Sola en Chi-Town


Dear Sola en Chi-Town,

First off, congratulations on coming to a big city to pursue your dreams! Loneliness is a perfectly normal thing to feel, especially when we are away from family during the holidays.  Instead of fighting the loneliness I suggest inviting it in for a cup of tea. Sometimes we spend so much energy and emotional resources fighting a bad feeling that we drown out other feelings we are having or could have. I challenge you to not focus on the loneliness, instead, find things that you can feel in addition to the loneliness. 

  1. Accept that you will feel lonely - it’s normal!

  2. Accept invitations to spend time with friends- spending time with friends reduces stress and fulfills our neurological need to socialize. 

  3. Make or buy something that you would normally share with your family- buy some pernil or make your family potato recipe. 

  4. Take advantage of technology- Skype, Google Hangouts, a phone call. Use technology to your advantage and join your family digitally!

Lastly, create your own tradition or keep a tradition alive- rituals work! There's actual science to back this up, they help us feel connected grounded, alleviate grief and decrease anxiety. 

Remember, you’re never alone, you have a whole MOB behind you!

Until next time,

Raven


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Raven Burgos,

MSWis a Therapist and Native New Yorker. Learn more about her work and her, here hellohappiness