How to Survive Toxic Family Members



Many people look forward to the holidays and hanging out with family and friends. However, this is not always the case for everyone. For some, this time might mean being around someone you’ve been trying to escape by moving away to college. It may include seeing someone you have a strained relationship with or someone who is not a positive figure in your life. These could include immediate family members, or step siblings, or extended family. If this is the case for you there are a few things you may want to keep in mind while entering into the holidays.

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This piece of advice may seem cliche and like a simplified band aide but it is really important to realize, this time is only temporary. Yes, it stinks to have to see this person and be around them for the time you are but realize that it is only temporary. They’re here today and gone tomorrow or you are here today and gone tomorrow. Your existence with this person in this time and space is limited, before you know it you will be back at school. So, with that being said though it may be extremely difficult, don’t allow this person to bother you. Realize that their actions and words are their own and reflect them and not you. You might not be able to control them but you can control what you say and do which may make the interaction more positive. 

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If you find yourself becoming increasingly frustrated know that it is to take a break from that person. Though you may have to be around them for family obligations, know that it is ok to take a break and remove yourself from being in the same room as them. Or feel free to give them vague answers when they ask about your life. College is difficult and sometimes other people’s thoughts and opinions are more damaging than they are helpful. Find a back room, bathroom or even go outside for a few minutes alone. Clear your head, say something nice to yourself, take a deep breath and go back inside whenever you feel ready.

Also, find a buddy. Find someone that you can hang out with during the day that is able to relieve some of the social burden of the day. Or someone that can distract you from the day or you can vent to about things. Sometimes I escape my relatives by playing with all the little kids. I love the little kids and playing with them but it also offers some relief about answering questions about school and my future. The most probing question my little cousins ask is if they can have another cookie which is a lot more simple than the other questions probed on such days.

As hard as it may be, stay away from the alcohol. Know your limit on what's good for you. Yes, it is called liquid courage but the courage to say what you want to say to that family member may not be what you should say to that family member.

I know there may be times that you feel like you should say something to that person and that is fine as long as what you do say is thought out and non attacking. While it may seem like the second best thing to say and do, saying nothing at all may be your best option when dealing with this person. Since they are a person in your life that isn't always the best to be around, their comebacks and reactions may be worse than just leaving them alone to begin with. Just remember, that though this situation stinks, it is just that, a situation and a temporary one at that. And if this isn't you but you know of others that are less than enthusiastic about holidays, just remember that this could be the situation that they are facing.

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