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Family Gatherings

It’s pretty safe to say that many of your deepest hurts and disappointments—what you didn’t get or get enough of—have their roots in your family of origin. This reality can make any family gathering stressful and anxiety-filled. Everyone plays their familiar roles and knows exactly which button to press to get you to react in your habitual ways—even if you no longer live under the same roof. Plus, your current belief system, values, insights, and inspirations—even how you now feed and nourish yourself—may differ from your family and be the cause of disagreements.

Your family may not give you the freedom to be who you are or who you want to be. Instead, they may remind you of all the sacrifices they made on your behalf and your duty to fulfill their expectations.

In most parents’ minds, you are still a child; and to get you to comply with their wishes, they may refer to you in either the second person (you), by your formal name, or talk as if you aren’t even there. They may also try to guilt you or humiliate you to get you to do their bidding—leaving you feeling frustrated and permanently stuck.

This lack of freedom can then make you feel weighed down. It can also totally eat you up inside, and you may find yourself overeating and overdrinking to keep your mouth and hands occupied and keep your emotions from rising to the surface at any sort of family gathering.

Additionally, you may find it next to impossible to be on a diet because family members may be very demanding of your time and expect you to cook for them in a certain way. They may also act out or try to sabotage your dieting efforts if they perceive your efforts as negatively impacting them. You may not have the time and energy to cook for yourself, let alone eat differently than everyone else. Either way, you may be left stewing in anger or resentment at always having to serve others first while your waistline expands on the sidelines.

You could benefit from expressing what you are holding in and carrying around with you. When you give yourself permission to look at things and people that bring you both joy and turmoil, you will acknowledge the internal division in your heart and begin to heal it. You will then experience more freedom to be who you truly are with family members—which in turn allows you to connect and relate to them in new ways—even if it’s the same old cast of characters.


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