When your family isn’t Facebook-worthy

Every student that goes home knows what’s coming. You prepare for all of the questions about school, your social life, and your love life.

But what about those who are not on good terms with their family? What does that look like and how do you handle it?

First, you should never feel like you have to lie about it. It can be difficult to be vulnerable with anyone, even your friends, about this. Although you can tell your co-workers other reasons why you love the holidays, it is difficult to deal with something like this on your own. You need a trusted friend, therapist, or any kind person that you can go to when you don’t know what to do. And most people can relate to having family drama.

It is crucial to have friends who will be there for you. Specifically, you need to have some friends on call. Make sure that there will be people you can text or call during the holidays that are willing to listen to you vent or cry. Ultimately, your friends become your “real” family, a good support system to keep, and this is a good reminder.

When you have a toxic family environment, you must plan ahead. Knowing you are about to be caught in the middle of family warfare, you should not have the expectation that “this time will be different” or “maybe they have changed.” If you expect that things will be different and it does not turn out that way, then you will have feelings of disappointment. On the other hand, if things have changed within your family, then that means your family surpassed your expectations.

Being stuck in the middle of family quarrels is not pleasant. Know and list your coping mechanisms. If a fight at Thanksgiving dinner gets out of hand and escalates quickly, it is a good idea to have a plan. Whether that is excusing yourself and going on a walk, leaving at a particular time, or practicing deep breathing, find a way to cope with dysfunctional family gatherings. The more mechanisms you can use, the better off you will be when dealing with your family.

Lastly, have an exit plan. I know this sounds extreme, but if your family is extremely toxic, then it is smart to have a plan to leave if things become impossible to bear. Having a friend on-call that you can spend the night with or coming back to school as soon as possible are plans that you might have to go through with. Dealing with dysfunctional families is difficult, but if you have a solid support system from friends, you can get through any family gathering.

Gracie Donoghue, Columnist

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