Christmas candleFor some the holidays are full of uncomfortable connections. Being a time for gathering family and friends together, relationship issues which live in the background the rest of the year come front and center. The things we’d rather avoid (or people) loom ahead and it can feel inevitable. People feel trapped between the hard place of duty and the rock of love, because of course you love your family and people who love each other want to be together and share this glorious time of fun and festivities.  However, families and people are far more nuanced than that which can cause conflict that seemingly rips us apart and leaves us no options but to suffer.

Family members, well-meaning or dysfunctional, gas lighting or uncomprehending, often present the situation as simple.  “We love you and you love us, so of course you’ll come and spend the holidays with us.  If you don’t we’ll be so very hurt, it will damage our relationship, you’ll miss out on everything, what will people say, how can you do this to me….”  But love isn’t simple.  In a dysfunctional or abusive relationship it’s rarely love at all.  Instead love is fashioned into a means of control that prevents the person from making healthy connections, keeps them in line, and continues whatever drama the abuser feels necessary.  Even if there is not outright abuse, sometimes love is not enough.

Love should give without requiring a return. Love should consider the needs, wants, and desires of the other person, not assume or command them. Love should seek out the happiness of the other, listen with an open heart, and be open to sharing. Sometimes that love that is being offered by family members or loved ones is not this. It may be the best they have to offer, it may be well-meant, but that doesn’t mean that it is enough or that it will serve.  “Sometimes love is not enough. You should never invest more in a relationship than you can afford to lose. The person to whom you need to be the best friend is yourself. If this (relationship) has drained you to the point of hurting you, the sacrifice is in vain.” – Dr. Phil

So this holiday season, check in with yourself. You may be standing between a rock and a hard place, but the truth is we each have the ability to choose to connect or not. You can choose to honor yourself and your truth this holiday season whether that’s to connect with people or not and how. It doesn’t have to be the way it has always been and it doesn’t have to be the way it’s being presented because they love you. You love you too, hopefully. And this holiday season the most beautiful, heartfelt, magical gift you can give is personal choice.  Before you commit to connections with everyone else on your list, connect with yourself.