Do the holidays bother those of us with little to no FOO?

Discussion in 'Family of Origin' started by SomewhereOutThere, Nov 16, 2015.

  1. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Since the day I married my first husband (I only had I never spent a holiday with my FOO. Sometimes I wished I had a family to go to. I don't even remember if they got together (all five or six of them) and if I just didn't go,if I wasn't invited, or they just didn't do holidays. I am not sure, but am trending toward the latter, although holidays with them would have been depressing.

    Because it has been so long I am used to my own family (family of choice) only. Sometimes TV shows will make me wish I had my own large, happy family to celebrate with, aside from my husband and children and at times friends. Usually I'm ok. I normally have fun, especially when we go to Chicago and almost all of us are there.

    How do the holidays affect you regarding FOO?
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Growing up, we had a HUGE extended family on both sides. One side always got together once in the holidays for at least a 24-hour bash (including sleeping over). Wall-to-wall sleeping bags, aunts, uncles, cousins, and often some straggler 2nd and 3rd cousins. I wasn't highly social, but the event was so huge and so unstructured that it was still fun. If you didn't want to socialize so much, you went and helped in the kitchen - and the aunts knew enough to give me a job that was more work and less talk, because that's what I wanted. You were surrounded by people that cared about you on some level - the kind who if your car broke down on the highway, would come rescue you, the kind who would find something nice to say about you even if you weren't being particularly nice that day... aunts and uncles and cousins the way it "should" be (well... not perfect, but done "right" if you know what I mean).

    My kids have never had that sense of connection.
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Insane, how sad for the kids. Mine didn't have that either.

    I with my family had been loving.

    My first husband had a family that was warm and loving for the first kids, at least on ther surface...
  4. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    We had that at my paternal grandmother's. She lived on a dairy farm. All the cousins were there for two weeks over Christmas. There was sledding and hot pea soup and a New Year's Eve party for kids. Easter break was the same, and we were there in the summer, too.

    When we came into the house, my grandmother was always there, with her arms wide open and so pleased to see us.

    This is the grandmother my mother detests.

  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Unpleasant people really resent those who are truly kind, don't they?
  6. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Well I still don't know what to think about it, Serenity. The first night I spent with my mother after my father's death, my mother took that time with me ~ the first time we had seen one another since my father's death ~ to say the most horrible things about my grandmother. (My father's mother.) In years past, my mother would talk about her at will but it was a simple thing to deflect the conversation. There was no grieving my father, for me, with my mother. There were no sweet memories or even, angry ones. There was hour after hour of processing information about my grandmother. My mother would doze off and awaken and see me and begin, again. I remember thinking this must be something my mother needed to do to grieve, and that once it was out and over, she could heal.

    This has never changed. Given the opportunity, my mother continued to say many of the same things. After that initial grieving period was over, I listened and changed the subject.

    We had come nearly 2,000 miles to be there for my mother when she came back to the house she had shared with my father.

    His death was never honored.

    I have posted about that here, before.

    Mine is such a strange family.

    There is a brother my mother hates, too. (I have two brothers.) After our father's death, I gave this brother a picture of our father, a very nice picture, because my brother had no picture of our father. I told my mother I had done so. She was furious.

    Isn't that something.

    It's a complex game she plays, using one against the other with herself forever at the helm.

    I think this is true.

  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    No it's not that strange. At least, although my FOO is strange in DIFFERENT way, I can relate. As a child I had no joy at Thanksgiving. We ate (all six of us) with the news on and little talk and no warm camaraderie. Lack of warmth defines my family, then and now. They didn't even pretend we were a normal family. And we weren't.

    I'm sorry your memories are not good, like me.
  8. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    It isn't that all of our memories are sad ones I don't think, Serenity. The imaginations of children sparkle everything with magic. There were darknesses, but there were times that were so bright they just shine for me. It was putting things together and coming to understand what was real and why nothing seemed to fit now, as an adult, that keyed me into where I needed to heal. When we are through this, what is will just be what it is. We won't always be blindsided by FOO or questioning our realities because we will know.

    It wold be fun to do a thread on positive memories, on those times when everything sparkled, like when my mother looked so beautiful to me and came to check on the kids and put the silky part of the blanket next to my face.


    Do you think you may have been depressed, even as a child, or do you have those places in your childhood memories where everything sparkles and feels like magic, too?

    I hope you have those places, Serenity. We should celebrate those times when we were loved, too, on FOO Chronicles.

  9. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    There's multiple angles to this, I think. In my FOO, there WERE shining, bright times. These are the ones my mother drags out any time we talk about FOO memories - to prove that things could not have been bad when we were growing up. Yet, when talking about her own FOO... she had it the worst possible, so bad that nothing we could ever have faced came close, in her estimation. And so I struggle even thinking about the bright times, because they are also associated with darkness.
  10. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    Our perceptions shape our reality. These perceptions are based on where we are emotionally at that time. I have a friend from my childhood that lived in poverty with the parents from hell. She was literally little more than a baby sitter and maid for her family. C was always happy and to this day harbors no ill will towards her FOO. She is happily married to a wonderful man and has 4 grown kids who are all doing well. Her take on all of this is that just because they birthed her they did not owe her anything, and that her happiness was defined by her and not the actions of others.
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  11. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Yes. And there is a feeling of that poem about the gyre, and about the center not holding, because the two extremes cannot come together in the middle to create a coherent story for our lives. We need, I think we need, to be able to ferret out what was true for us, and what we saw and heard, and honor the truth that the dark things were real too, before we can make that coherence for ourselves in our life stories. I am not sure about this part, but I think it is those broken places where what went before and what happened after make no sense that weaken us in our thinking, today. We leap to positions where no one will be hurt or excluded anymore. That is our bottom line, our guiding precept. In fact, reality is multi-faceted. There is no one right answer that is the right answer every time. When we are expected to take someone else's "this is how it was" when we know very many things contradictory to their "this is how it was" were just as real, and were often traumatic, we cannot put the pieces of self together coherently.

    We are role, and not real.

    This works for us amazingly well actually, until trouble comes.

    That is why it would be best for us to know ~ whatever it is we need to know. Each of us has his or her questions, his or her traumatic memories, buried deep but echoing away just the same.

    We should know what that's about.

    Instead, sometimes, in our trying to make sense of things, we trust the adult who abused us to start with. Trusting them more than we trust our own minds or honor our own memories, we come to distrust ourselves and our thinking and remembering. We wonder what in the world is the matter with us that we remember such dark things that everyone else swears never happened.

    "Just don't think, Cedar."

    "Don't you dare."

    Or an even worse thing perhaps, would be that the person who was an adult in our lives when we were just little girls or little boys minimizes what happened to us because their own story was "so much worse".

    And since they said it?

    We believe that, too.

    And another leg to base our realities on goes shaky.

    And we become more uncertain.

    It is like someone saying "Roar! Stop stabbing me in the back." And someone else saying: "Stop being a baby. What happened to you was nothing. That's why it doesn't matter."

    The point being, as it always is when we are raised in abusive situations, that we are the ones who do not matter.

    And there is a key, and that is how to recognize and heal that place, and find coherence in the stories of our lives, and integrity for ourselves

    Maybe, that is how it will feel to be healed. We will know our own stories. That will be integrity of thought and action and understanding and then, we can accept current reality in a multi-faceted way, too.

    I lived much of my life believing my family of origin could come together. I believed it in every fiber of my being and right straight in the face of anything they did.

    This turns out not to have been true.

    There is now and there was then and there was, forever, a force at the heart of my family of origin who wanted everything to be exactly as it was.

    It was not good for me, or for the innocent family my innocent D H and the not-innocent me created, for me to be in denial about those dark places, or for me to pretend their darknesses no longer mattered.

    They did matter.

    We were hurt by them.

    Because I believed with a fanatic's determined belief that they were good when they were not, my family of origin was in a position to attack when the family
    D H and I had created fell into such troubled times.

    And attack they did.

    And it hurt to acknowledge that mine was, after all, the cup half-full. But my story has coherence, now. I was forever asking why, was forever wondering who was the liar here, as I went through this process. Those of you who have been reading along will remember that, maybe. Those were the most painful questions I asked. I knew what had happened. I did not know why. The only answer I had is the one the abuser had given to justify abusing her own children in the first place.

    That was the lie.

    That was the why behind all of it.

    This is how the abusive person insisted it would be then (traumatic snapshots, one after another: boom, boom, boom), and she will accept nothing less now.

    That is not a pretty truth, but it is a truth that enables coherence in making sense of me, that enables coherence in the story of who I am inside where there is only me and those hissing, negative tapes.

  12. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    I think that if our kids had been okay, or if they had been okay sooner, then I would have stayed in that place your friend was, too.

    She has had to be very strong.

    Destructive, abusive preferences have come blatantly to the forefront since my father's death. It seemed I must be wrong about what I thought I was seeing, and I wondered what was the matter with me.

    But it wasn't me.

    There really is something very wrong with the way family is perceived and valued in my family of origin.


    Okay. So I feel deflated, because I wanted to be loving and strong and welcoming too, but I no longer believe in that dream where my family of origin is concerned.

    I am so jealous of your friend, that she was able to do it when I could not.

    Does the friend have a sister?

    This is a loaded question. If she doesn't have a sister, then I can blame that I could not stay in that loving and accepting place on my rotten sister instead of myself.

    So, I'm hoping she did not have any sisters.


  13. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I had separated from my family while I was still young.

    For me the catalysts were first, my step-father. Then, the self-indulgence of my mother, culminating in her taking our inheritance, and my suing her. That was something I could not turn away from.

    Had my mother married somebody more kindly and gentle (there was one man I really liked, Sam) I can imagine staying tied into my family, us staying in the Big City of my birth and a far different life. I would have never achieved in any professional or artistic sense. I would never have adopted my son.
    No you are not, Cedar.

    Your mother and sister went after you and your children like hit men. Can you really make hearts and flowers out of that? You would always stand my your kids.

  14. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    She was the oldest of 6 kids. She has 3 sisters. I asked her if she could be happy if her kids were struggling with drugs or failure to launch. She was genuinely surprised by the question. Her answer was that she did the best she knew how in parenting them. If they were not happy with their lives that was a choice that they made within themselves.

    I wish I were more like her. She seems to be genetically predisposed to having a positive outlook on everything. It is not like everything in her life was perfect.
  15. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I think this comes from the parenting she received as much as genetics.

    If you were raised, shaped by a parental attitude that most everything is your fault and your responsibility this is a default stance you bring to your whole life.

    When one becomes a parent, we hope to work this out. By parenting our children we parent anew, ourselves. It works for awhile. When it stops we feel catapulted back to the same attitude of blame and responsibility of our youth. Without anybody to help us. Just undermining. We begin to see our children as blaming us, holding us responsibility for their problems. And sometimes they do. It is a perfect storm of (self) condemnation. Worst of all there is the lost sense of love and completion that we had longed for.

    All of it, an opportunity, nonetheless.

  16. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    I wish I were more like that too, pasa.


    I will be jealous and hate her in absentia, then.

    Three sisters?

    For heaven's sake, I've barely survived one.


    Okay, but here is the thing. This woman's children have not gone a wrong way, day after day and year after year. She has not had to question herself and her motives and her belief systems and her life choices the way we have.

    It wasn't the ways we were raised that broke each of us. It was losing our children and that dream of them and of ourselves and of what we believed we had already made of our lives and lost, somehow.

    And of not knowing how we could possibly have lost those lives we'd created for ourselves and our children and never once have seen it coming.

    This is the vulnerability we were left with.

    When anything goes wrong, we are responsible. If we cannot address it, we tear into ourselves, certain we must have missed something crucial. And when we have chosen love as our guiding precept throughout our lives, detachment parenting is not something we can understand. It calls our own abandonment issues, and all we know or trust is to love.

    But detachment parenting seems to be the one things the kids respond to.

    It kills us to do it, to turn away, though.

    Double whammy, for us.

    We do it though.

    For the sakes of the kids, we have done even that. Maybe, that is what broke us.

  17. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I was depressed and nervous, but there were some good times. Unfortunately, most were not family memories, unless I was with my grandmother. We didn't do things together or act like a family, really. We went our own ways. Christmas did not exist. We were Jewish. We did not have many family get togethers for any reason. Most happy times were as a teen and with my friends.
  18. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member


    While this lady has had opportunities to grow and change she has not had the opportunities we have had. To question and to grow.

    I am really believing myself now. I am not glad my son suffers and I with him. But I am glad for my life. I would have not had it any other way, except with my parents. I wish I had been able to love my parents and be with them at the same time.
    In my case, yes. I was unable to marry, to have a trusting relationship with a man. I knew early that I was broken.
    My story is different. I was broken. I hobbled along. I adopted my son. I was redeemed. It seemed like his love, and loving him made everything healed that had been broken. You know my story. It lasted for awhile, but not forever.

  19. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    How does she justify this, Cedar? What is the story she tells?
  20. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    I can't speak for Cedar, but... generally, the justification is simply that the person (A) will not tolerate anything or anyone who makes this person's (A's) faults and flaws more obvious.

    So I would guess that this grandmother was closer to what Cedar's mother "should have" or "could have" been, and wasn't... and so she was going to do whatever it took to "remove" those individuals who were better than her.

    At least it would be that way in my FOO