I remember when the holidays were all about worrying about staying on my diet! Happily, those days are long behind me.
And I was always fortunate in that my family was (mainly) fat-accepting. Whatever their thoughts about me being fat, at least they kept them to themselves.
And I usually had parties to attend, so I didn’t feel the lack of a boyfriend – except, of course, New Years Eve. Sigh. But I had friends to hang out with on New Years Eve, so it was fun.
Hearing tales from others, I realize now how blessed I was. For many fatties, the holidays are not a good time. They have to face fat-phobic relatives, they may be stuck listening to the unenlightened doing their own diet talk, and they may feel they have nowhere to go or no one to hang with because their friends have all gone of to do their family thing.
Personally, I have no use for family members who are less than supportive – no matter what size I happen to be. I will ask them, politely, to put a sock in it, then I may be less polite – or I might just choose to excise those people from my life. For many people “family” has come to mean the people who have come into your life who care about you and treat you with love and respect – related or not.
When I was in my 20s, I lived with a man who was gay. My family had a fit and fell into it. Now this was before living with someone of the opposite sex was not an everyday – no big deal – thing; but it wasn’t unknown either. My stepfather threatened to beat the guy up, my grandmother said I was not welcome at her home, it was a very unhappy situation. I called my mother and I told her that I was sorry this was how they felt, I was the same person I was before whom they said they loved, and I still loved them – and when they were willing to recognize my right to make my own choices, then I wouldn’t be around. I put the ball back in their court, but let them know that I was not the one keeping us apart.
I spent that Christmas with my dad’s family, and when I stopped at my mom’s house to drop off presents, it was all sweetness and light, and everyone wanted to know why I wasn’t there for Christmas. (Don’t you love selective memory?) They just dropped it, and so did I; and after that they treated me like an adult – because they knew that I was capable of walking away.
The thing is, it’s YOUR life. No one has right to make your life miserable – not even family. But you are the only one who can prevent this. You are the only one who can control what, if any, power someone else has over you. And I know it’s hard. Family is important. But the people in your family are “people” and sometimes you have to look at them as people, with all the goodness and badness of any person, and then make the choice that is best for you. If you know a particular relative is going to be a problem, you could try talking with them ahead of time, or you may see if there is a time when you can stop in when that person won’t be there.
Think about your boundaries, set them and (try to) stick to them. And if you have to leave or not go to protect your own well-being, let people know why, and leave the door open.
As for sitting at home alone and you don’t like it, I urge you to get out there and get involved. If you belong to a church or other organization, find out what kind of activities are going on. Try going to some of the size-positive events/dances that are in your area (if there are some – I know they aren’t everywhere, but they seem to be happening more and more). Treat yourself to some theater or a choral event. Go look at the decorated houses. See if you have other friends who don’t have local family and get together with them.
When I first moved to LA, my roommate and I used to have a big Christmas Eve party for all of our friends who didn’t have family in the area. It was so much fun, and it became a yearly event that we all looked forward to. We also had gatherings to make homemade ornaments, tree trimming, gift making, cookie decorating, etc. And yes, I know this is mostly Christmas-centric, but that’s my background. I trust you to be smart enough to figure out what will work for you.
And if you really don’t want to do any of those things – that’s okay too. Maybe your idea of the perfect holiday, is snuggled up on the sofa in your most comfy jimmies with a cup of cocoa and homemade cookies watching some old movie on TV. Wonderful. Go for it.
And, you know sometimes, your happiness of spending time with a beloved family member is worth putting up with the asshattery of someone else. Just try to figure out what will make you happiest – because it is all about you!