When I tell people I won’t be doing anything with my family on Thanksgiving, the question usually ends up being “why?” At first, this isn’t an invasive question, it’s curiosity or perhaps concern. When I tell a person that I won’t be doing anything with my family on Thanksgiving because I do not have a family, expressions of pity are often offered (eww) . . . Until it comes out that I do not have a family by choice. Pity takes a sharp turn towards persecution.
My family is not deceased; they do not live in another state or country that is too far away to visit; in other words, according to a society that presses the inherent importance of blood relations, I have no real excuse for not having a family. Apparently, it seems, the only acceptable reason for lack of contact between blood relations is having exhausted every other possible option. It doesn’t occur to the inquirer that perhaps people who have split from their families by choice have exhausted every other possible option. Which doesn’t count, if you have the ability to stay in contact but choose otherwise.
“You really should try to get along with your family, they won’t be around forever and once they aren’t you’ll regret not spending time with them while you had the chance.”
No. No, I will not. And it does not fall on me to “fix” a chasm between my blood relations and I, nor does it mean I am at fault; it is not an act of malice as implied when people say if I just tried harder everything would be fine. After all, how could granny be an abuser? Your uncle didn’t molest you, he loves you and just doesn’t know how to show it. And Ma can’t possibly be deliberately gaslighting when she was always such a great advocate when it came to your psychological disabilities! (Yeah, because telling me daily for goodness knows how man years that she hates having to interact with me because I “can’t have normal human interactions” and she doesn’t know why she even bothers is just her trying to be nice, right?)
It’s cool that a lot of people have families they love to spend time with, look forward to visiting–but the assumption that the case is the same for everyone is super not cool. As is the assumption that it must truly be awful for me to not exist around family during holidays. It isn’t. I thought it may be at first, too. Going low- or no-contact with blood relations is a very difficult decision to make and sometimes an even harder to maintain once the decision has been made. Especially when you remember there were good times. In reality, though, I can say with absolute certainty that the best thing for me was to go no- or very low-contact with blood relations. Including on holidays that stress the importance of nuclear/immediate/extended familial centrism.
However, I’m not lonely on holidays. I’m not sad. I’ll be ordering an extra cheese pizza from my favorite Greek pizza place and reading Pablo Neruda. Holidays are supposed to be awesome, and it just happens that in my case visiting my blood relations will significantly deplete the awesome as opposed to enhancing it. I’m okay with that.
Having a Chosen Family (the difference lies in the capital F), who are kin connected by Love are just as legitimate as kin connected by blood.
So no, I won’t house-sit your dog for the weekend.