To Those Who Struggle With Family.

The holidays are a hard time for those who struggle with family. It’s a time where the pressure to enjoy yourself becomes greater, and those Hallmark movies with the happy family ending do not help in the slightest. 

It all ends with everyone giving each other a big hug, apologies, people forgiving one another, and maybe a bit of singing by the piano. Because apparently everyone can sing in these movies. 

That’s the bad thing about movies. The unrealistic expectations. Because not everyone is lucky enough to have a supportive family that they deserve. 

Fair warning: this is a personal post. Reworked to remind everyone reading it, that there are many of us that have struggled to fit in with our families during the holidays, and throughout our lives.

I struggled a lot with anxiety settling into a new country at 10 years old. I had never lived with this side of my family before. The anxiety ruined all my family occasions including some of my favourite holidays. I have no happy memories of any of my birthdays, Halloweens, Christmases, from the ages of 10-19. 

At 19 I finally pushed myself to speak to my family in English. I pushed the words out despite the physical and mental pain it brought me. I struggle a little less now, and here is how I managed to make the holidays a little bit easier. 

This is from personal experience only. If you are seriously struggling, please consider speaking to someone about it. You can always message me

What I found to help me…

  • Understanding that each of your family members has their own struggles. The actions of others may reflect what’s going on in their own lives. I
  • Everyone has their own ways of being – which means not everyone may show affection, love, compassion, the same way that you do. This doesn’t mean that your family don’t care for you.
  • People are allowed to make mistakes and they’re allowed to be themselves. Understanding people’s mistakes means understanding them, and that may just bring you to feel closer to them.
  • People are allowed to have their own comfort zones. Similarly to everyone having their own way of being, someone may not be comfortable with showing too much affection. And accepting their boundaries will mean accepting and understanding their behaviour towards you. 

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Here is where you can stop reading unless you really care about how this anxiety-ridden little 10-year old made 9 whole years without having a relationship with her family… 

As mentioned before, I moved countries when I was 10 years old. All the way from sunny Colombia, where I had my amazing family, cousins, a loving grandma, and oh so many friends. I came to England with my parents, to live with my other grandma, aunties, and my cousin. I had met them before, maybe when I was a baby. But they were strangers to me.

From 10-13 years old:

In the first years, I became close to both of my cousins, one was a year younger than me and one was five years older. For some reason, my grandma treated them a lot more different than she treated me. She played with them, bought them presents, talked to them, got to know them, all that loving grandma stuff!  My grandma tried some of those things with me, but I could tell it was a chore. 

From 13-17 years old:

In the middle years, I became quieter, I didn’t speak to even my cousins. Our friendship had faded because that’s when I started to develop “the anxiety” which, in all honesty, had been there since the start. I physically couldn’t bring my words out, and especially not in my new language, I was very self-conscious of them criticising my English. So I stayed quiet. 

From 17-20 years old:

Fast forward a few years: I am now in my late teens. The dreaded late teens where you don’t feel like a part of anything. Not feeling like a part of your family is one of the worst feelings you could have on top of that. I was completely alone. My parents were out working so I barely saw them, I still couldn’t speak English to my cousins, and the rest of them were still strangers who I barely knew, and who barely knew me.

When I turned 17 I finally found a friend. A best friend who was also my boyfriend. I was so excited to meet his family and finally feel like a part of a family. That didn’t happen. But it’s not something that I was too upset over. This was the moment that I turned my thinking around and I decided to stop thinking about the terrible relationship I had with every single member of my family. Instead, I looked at what I could do better. 

Now

  • About 2 weeks ago I sat down with my cousins and just talked about our day. (in English) We laughed and shared everyday things. Like a “normal” family.
  • About 1 week ago I went shopping with my grandma for some shoes she wanted to send to someone in Colombia. We went to sit down in Nandos and ate together, just the two of us. She then bought me some socks from Primark. It was scary to me, but she asked me about my life, and she is now the only family member to know anything about me running a blog. She also hugged me and called me “mija”.
  • I see my parents more or less every day now, I feel less alone, and they have finally found stability.
  • I now realise that my grandma is naturally not a very affectionate woman, and she simply probably needed more time. My cousins are naturally very critical, but they are also very accepting and caring. I only learned this when I decided to open myself up more.

50 Responses

  1. What a lovely and personal post for you to write. I understand how hard this must have been to write and although I am glad now that you have found love in this family, I hate to think of anyone feeling like this. Families are complex and you can’t pick them unfortunately but I hope one day you have a family of your own and you can find some peace xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m sorry you had such a hard time. Childhood is the most important time to be supported and loved in order to approach adult live with confidence.
    But somehow you made it through all this and that makes you a very strong character, despite what you might think about yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is something I have felt too within my family and I never really felt like it was something I could talk about. My family are two families blended, my step brothers had each other and I was alone. I too felt like I was a useless part in this family machine. So I moved out and chose my own family. My grandma always said you have two families in life: your god given family and your chosen family. I loved this post and hearing about personal stories really connects me as a reader to you. Well done you🧡
    Alex x
    https://allthingsalexx.wordpress.com/

    Like

  4. abbyheird

    Thank you so much for sharing this part of you with us! It’s amazing the change we can make through our years of living. It must’ve been so hard for you to continue to try with a family that didn’t seem to make it easy on you. But you have definitely come a long way. I am close to my immediate family but I always found it so odd how much distance there was with my aunts and uncles. I can’t imagine not loving all over my sister’s kids when they have them. It is definitely something I will do even more of because we didn’t get much love from our aunts and uncles. Thank you for sharing even though I know it must’ve been hard to do so!

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  5. vince2day

    Arghhh I feel so emotional reading this . Your brave , a fighter and for all what you’ve been through you’ll be stronger. Your life is Infront of you, don’t look back and keep moving forward .

    Regards Gary v X

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I told you people would care. 😉
    Wasn’t expecting it to be about family. I get how hard it can be to have to be around people who’s only connection to you is blood. I’ve struggled for years to form bonds with every member of my family and if I’ve learned anything about getting older is that we find our tribe. We are drawn to other people like ourselves and they become our family. And that’s okay. Xxx

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  7. Wow this was a really great post! I enjoyed reading it. Your scenario actually made me think about my own family and my cousins from D.R. who came here to the US to live with me and my family. I never thought about how hard it was for them to adjust to a different culture and learn English. I commend you for finding a way to learn and finally communicate how you were feeling with your cousins.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow, this is such a personal thing to share but I’m so proud you did! I can kinda relate to how you feel, not in all aspects but there’s certain bits that I really understand. Thanks for being brave and sharing such an emotional story and I’m sure it’ll make a lot of others in similar situations feel better that they’re not alone. I hope that you continue on getting closer to your family, Much love 😘💕💕

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Paula |The Value of a Moment

    Beautiful post, love! I’m so sorry that you struggled with connections when you were younger, anxiety really is a thief. I’m glad you’re forging those connections now, treasure them! 💓💓

    Like

  10. Ruth

    Wow for you to share that is truly amazing. I’m glad you found love back from your family. Unfortunately sometimes you have to go through things to be better so I’m sure when the time comes you will have a wonderful family and look forward to reading about it on your blog x

    Like

  11. Geraldine

    That was a really great and touching post Lavrax! It’s great that you finally got around to being able to speak to your family. I also thought it was nice that instead of blaming them you got around to see the good, not just the”bad”. I have family”issues” but there’s not much I can do to fix it at this point. I just lol ahead to the future instead. Also I’m not a Latina but I understand what “Mija” means 😂 I have friends who are Spanish so they’d say that or chica or Mami 😂

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  12. Thank you so much for sharing this, it must have been really hard. I found this super interesting to read, as someone who has grown up and lived in the same town my whole life I can’t imagine moving countries! Especially not with people who you’re not close with. I like the positive end, it feels more like the beginning really – the beginning of your getting closer to your family. I hope it all continues going well for you 🙂

    Like

  13. I know what you mean about family life and sometimes it can be hard, there’s that saying ‘you can choose your friends but no your family’. I grew up with one brother, we weren’t in each others pockets or the best of friends and we don’t spend much time together however we are there when it matters. Sometimes I am sad that I never had a sister to be my best friend but then I wouldn’t have wanted to share my mum with a sister. I have 4 children now and sometimes they argue with each other over the stupidest of things, I just hope they grow up to be there for each other and support each other.

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  14. This post really resonated with me, thank you so much for sharing! My parents divorced a couple of years ago and this summer I ended up moving out of my Mum’s house because we just have far too much conflict. I too am making my own family, formed of my amazing friends with a good place for my Dad too. I love the idea of family being flexible, because mine definitely is.

    Like

  15. Ash

    This was really touching. Thank you for speaking up and using your story to help others. I can definitely resonate with feeling like you’re not apart of your family. I barely speak to anyone in mine including my parent’s. It’s heartbreaking but reading stories like this gives me hope that I can overcome it. You’re amazing! xx

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Ash

        Thank you so much, that’s very sweet of you. You seem like such a genuine person. Just seen that you have Instagram so I’ll be following that page. Even if I don’t find it in family, there’s always friends or individuals who will make me feel like I belong. xxx

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  16. A Brewed Awakening

    This is a beautiful post you have written! I’m glad you were able to form relationships with the members of your family even through such hardships!

    Like

  17. That’s so strange. I moved to another country when I was 10 as well. Because of financial issues and parental divorce crap. I feel like I am completely different to my family and I can’t ever get along with them unfortunately. I guess I’m not alone at least.
    Glad I stumbled across your post, hate Christmas period so much… but hey we can make our own families.
    Laura / https://www.laustworld.com/?m=1

    Like

  18. Such a raw and personal post to share, I find writing about more personal things and putting it out there often helps me feel a bit better, so I hope this helped you too ❤ I'm glad your bond with the family is getting stronger now and I hope it continues to do so. It must have been so tough moving countries at such a young age, but you've done it and you are amazing!

    Chloe xx

    Like

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