‘Tis the season.
Of, among other things, wishful thinking.
One example: the myth of the Big Happy Family.
The idea that two disparate sets of individuals joined by marriage — i.e., by accident — are supposed to love, like, or even tolerate each other.
That because it’s a holiday and they’re technically “family” they should be able to enjoy the day together and that nothing else should matter. Not hidden conflicts, old wounds, personality clashes, political differences, substance abuse or mental disorders.
It’s this myth that persuades us to arrange gatherings of people who’d otherwise never spend five seconds together. To bring them together and then add stress and alcohol and small children and physical disorder and expect everything to come off swimmingly.
I know many people who approach these gatherings with dread, and survive only with multiple emotional wounds. Then the day after they crawl into my office to lick their wounds and debrief.
If we get to talk about it before it actually happens, I tell them this:
“Just be aware you’re walking into a setup.
“A setup for compulsive controlling of all sorts.
“A setup for denial, unrealistic expectations, people-pleasing, loss of self, emotional inauthenticity, hurt feelings and disappointment.
“In short, a CodependencyFest.
“Yes, some families can pull off this sort of thing with minimal damage.
“And some can’t, no matter how hard or how persistently they try.
“You need to ask yourself one question, and answer honestly:
“To which sort do you belong?”