Wish your family was normal? Yea you and everyone else. Going home and dealing with less than ideal family dynamics or worse toxic family situations. Is trying but you can do so in a way that will not steal your joy. If you don’t allow it. With the necessary skills and boundaries in place we can help you survive this holiday season. In this episode we discuss how to mentally prepare to gather with family for the holidays and move forward from hurt to heal hearts this holiday season.
Nikita Banks, LCSW 0:00
I am New York City based psychotherapist Nikita Banks, a licensed clinical social worker, and I am your host of The Black therapist podcast, formerly black in therapy. The black therapist podcast is a place where we will discuss the unique issues people of color face. When dealing with mental health issues and mental health diagnosis, you can listen to our show on SoundCloud, iTunes and Google Play, you can follow us on Instagram, the black therapists podcast, or you can hit us up on our website and sign up for our mailing list at Black therapists podcast.com. Also, on our website, you can find the links to our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram pages. You can also email us show suggestions, general feedback and any ideas that you have for I don’t know, guess, at Black therapists podcast at gmail. com. Welcome to our show. So we’re in the final stretch of the year, you guys have made it to November and I think was for me, what’s really on my mind right now is the upcoming holidays and how we’ll celebrate. But to be honest with you, I’m feeling a little anxious about the holidays. And I feel like this is a normal feeling for a lot of my clients. And a lot of the patients that I see. And actually I was speaking to a colleague of mine the other day, and she was saying to me, we were discussing kind of like slow downs for the holidays, because I feel like sometimes in my business, they’re like ebbs and flows. And I know like, usually, when I’ll have a lot of clients and I was like the holidays, sometimes for me, I get a lot of cancellations. I’m going to other places that I’ve worked. And she was like, really, the holidays are super busy. For me, because a lot of people either struggle with dealing with their families for the holidays, or wish that they had family that they were dealing with for the holidays, or they had significant anniversaries, like anniversaries of death. So those sorts of things for the holidays. And they really, truly mentally impacted, emotionally impacted with the upcoming holiday. So it got me to thinking kind of about myself. And so I felt like I tell a lot of my business on the show, but it’s probably because I do tell my business. But it’s hard to talk about client work, it’s hard to talk about, you know, things that I’m not supposed to talk about, like I have a Hippocratic oath that I’ve taken. And so I have to kind of be careful about what I share when it comes to clients. And so I am talking about me when especially when it’s only me and so the holidays are coming. And for me Thanksgiving is a great time to honor traditions I like to cook. And I pretty much stick to my family’s menu on whether I’m with them or not. So that at least I’m eating foods that reminds me of like, when I grew up in
Nikita Banks, LCSW 2:59
doing the whole rigmarole around cooking and shopping. And it’s it’s really like a whole two months worth of like preparing for the holidays. And Christmas time I like to spend time with my family, I’m meeting my mother, my sister’s, my sister’s children, my son. But for Thanksgiving, I like to just kind of spend time with my nuclear family, which is my my son or partner, whatever. And this year without my father, it’s just I think I might have feelings when the holiday comes, I’m not really sure if I will, but it’s something that I’m thinking about. So, you know, I decided that I was going to do a show on this today because I felt like other people might need a word of encouragement on how to deal with the holidays. And so with the Christmas season come in, because as I stated, I don’t really have to do with my family that much for Thanksgiving. But with Christmas coming at, like there’s going to be travel and I’m going to go to see some of my extended family. That’s my plan. And so I have some anxiety surrounding some of those relationships. And I think people think, oh, you’re a therapist, you know, your life must be okay. Like a utilize the theories and the things that I have learned to inform the decisions that I’m making my life and to inform how I deal with people in my life, and also how I manage certain expectations of people in my life. But like, I’m really not the family therapist, and I really can’t tell everybody in my family who that’s messed up, you should go to therapy, because after a while, no one’s gonna listen to you. And I’m not like now that I’m a professional, I try not to give a lot of unsolicited advice, especially because I get paid to give advice, you know, and I get paid to kind of do these things, I try not to do that as much in my word. You know, my god voice in me sometimes just tells me to shut up and let them learn it on their own. So I’m trying to employ that what employee that with some my family members, so there’s gonna be some anxiety surrounding dealing with certain issues, and certain people as the holidays arrive. And I’m sure that this is the same for a universal with a lot of people who are listening. And so I wanted to talk about what you do, or how you prepare for going home for the holidays, and dealing with the thoughts, feelings and emotions that comes from this time of the year. So the first thing I want to talk about is dealing with a family member who has wronged you are dealing with a family member that you have significant issues and problems with because it’s really hard to kind of pass the peas when you know there’s an elephant in the room. But I think it’s important for us to start to acknowledge a person for who they are and acknowledge people’s limitations. And so one of my favorite things to say about people, when I know that what they do and how they present and how they show up in my life is not in alignment with what I want or hope that they will do is to recognize them for their own people for being who exactly that they are, and for respecting their limitations. So I’m not sure if I discussed it before. But you know, I guess I can discuss it. Now. I try not to go around my family and like diagnosing people. But to be honest with you, I have the knowledge. And sometimes it just informs how I have to approach some of my family members. So I know my father has, because he had military service like he had gone to see therapists in the past, I’m not sure what they diagnosed him with. But I think I remember recognizing that my father had a personality disorder. And so over the years, I had always wanted him to be somebody else I had always wanted him to be a best responsible or to be empathetic or to like be shot when he said he was going to show up and do what I wanted him to do, as opposed to what he wanted to do. And because of the because I have the understanding of the diagnosis, I understand that he did what he knew how to do. And it was unfair of me to want him to be somebody other than he knew how to be. And so what I started to do was deal with him on his level and expect him to do what he was capable of doing. If this makes any sense to you. Like it didn’t, I couldn’t expect that my father would do something other than anything that he had shown me he was capable of doing throughout the years. And so yeah, there were times that he would like surprise me and like do something out of character. Those were really good days if though they were positive, if they were positive things. But it was unfair of me to expect him to do what I wanted him do only because I wanted him to do it. And I knew he wasn’t capable of doing it, I kind of was just like setting myself up for disappointment. And so one of the things that I would say in going into difficult relationships with friends, family, whoever is learning to manage your expectations, and learning to deal with the person on the level of their performance. And so that’s a quote that I heard from Oprah but Oprah said Maya said it Maya Angelou is when a person shows you who they are, believe them. But if you have a long term relationship with the person, and especially if it’s family, you sometimes have needs tied into what you want them to do, like you needed my father to love me, I needed him to be there for me, when I called him, I needed him to show up for me what I needed him to do. And I’m just like doing those things out. But what I needed him to do didn’t mean that he could actually do those things. And so in going into the holiday, I want you to start thinking about how you have seen people in your life show up in a way that didn’t necessarily cater to your needs, but see them with fresh eyes and see them for who they are and what they bring to the table and manage your expectations when you deal with them. I hope this this lands, for those of you who actually need to hear what I’m saying right now, because I feel like this is a universal thing that happens in all relationships. And it doesn’t really have to do with holidays. But as I stated, because there are these gatherings that are coming up, there are going to be some difficult times that you are going to have with people in your life. And you might want to start reevaluating from now what that source of the hurt and pain is is it really something that they’ve truly done to you? Or is it something that you hoped that they would do? And they weren’t able to meet your expectation? And if it was the latter, is it something that you expected them to do? That was out of the realm of their capability. And so I’ll just continue to use my dad, for example, my father was a decent dad with me, but he was a not so good father, with some of my other siblings. And so for some of them, they may look at it and say, Oh, you know what he was capable of doing x, y, z, because he did it for her. But the history shows that if he hadn’t done it for you, it’s possible that he didn’t know how to do it for you with you, the relationships are reciprocal. And sometimes we have to do what we need to do to be able to get our needs met. So even with children, there’s there’s one child who may have a temperament or who may have a certain skill set where they’re able to get certain things from their parents, then others children. And I just recently had a conversation with my cousin, we started to discuss family and the relationship that he has with his mom. And from what I deduced about their relationship. I think that the requirements and the nurturing and the understanding that he had with her, he was able to pull out certain things from her in her parenting to get some of the things that he needed. It wasn’t an easy road, it wasn’t always perfect, but it was different. And you can be a child growing up in a household with two parents, and three siblings. And each one of you have different experiences because of the roles that you play in your family. And so I also want to talk about that too, right? So each of us are assigned a role in our families, or we have roles in our families. And some of these roles are roles that we are assigned, right? Like I’m, you know, kinds of the oldest child of my fathers children. And I’m the middle child of my mother’s kids. So I’m like very middle, childish, Mom, boisterous, I’m outgoing, I’m like, I gotta always be seen Hello, podcast. And so with my mom’s kids, my role is different, because my oldest sister had a lot of different requirements that were placed on her and my younger brother has much different requirements is placed on him. And so in my dad’s side of the family, I also have a different world. And so some of these roles are assigned to us from young. But we don’t have to agree to these roles, we don’t have to continue to live in a place where we are taking on the roles that are assigned to us, we can change the narrative of who we are, and how we are seen in the family. And if it takes time, but we can define ourselves in these relationships. And so I’m in the process of thinking about how I actually want to continue one, with the people in my family with both sides of my family. My role as a mother has also changed as my son has gotten older. And the requirements of that role is something that I’m modifying, currently laughing It’s not funny, but you know, you think of your kid is your baby. And all of a sudden, he has like a wife, and he has like kids, I mean, he’s not that old. But you know, things change. And so being able to be fluid with change is something that you guys want to think about to in as the holiday season approaches, forgiveness. And that conversation that I had with my cousin yesterday, I also thought about my grandmother’s sister, my grandmother died when I was really young, but her sister was kind of like my grandma. And so I don’t have a lot of real memories about her. But there was like a family feud that happens. And I felt the need to take. And the conversation that I had with him yesterday, it kind of helped me rethink like, well, I’ve kind of been mad at her all these years for something that she and I really didn’t have any interactions with, I should probably let that go. And so I actually said a prayer me she passed away, but actually said a prayer. As I’ve said some really neat things about her to other family members over the years. It’s not funny, but it really started me to think about taking more of an active role in why I have the negative feelings that I have about certain family members and a possible that I can look at them through a lens of empathy, because usually hurt people hurt people. And so there’s somebody in your life or somebody in your circle or somebody in your family who has done something that has negatively impacted you, or in some way emotionally hurt you hurt your feelings or broke your heart. Please, please please, before the holidays come Thank you about how a hurt that they may have gone through could have contributed to them doing what it is that they did to you. And if you can, without discussion, let it go. Just just release it to the the sky set some boundaries may have a little you know, come to Jesus meeting with yourself and think about how it is and what is required of you for you guys to move forward in the relationship. Make sure if you’re making boundaries, your boundaries have consequences. And if they cross the line of those boundaries, you decide and in source, how you will no longer tolerate certain behaviors in your lives. Now, I’m not saying forgive somebody that did something to you that you know, was extreme, I don’t really want to like put a name to it, or a thought to it. Because you can forgive anybody for anything, if that’s in your heart and your mind to do. However, there are some things that I think I forget, whoo, whoo that I will keep some myself.
Nikita Banks, LCSW 16:01
Nikita Banks, LCSW 16:03
and so whatever your whatever your bottom is, or whatever your your deal breaker is, it is what it is. But just make sure that you’re able to kind of articulate those things to that person, and let them know, listen, I can’t mess with you because of XYZ. But I’m happy you’re here. Oh, I’m glad that you’re okay. You don’t got to do it over the dinner table. But just kind of let them know you know where you stand. But if there is room in the situation for you to be introspective. And for you to think about how you may have contributed to the situation do that if there’s room for you to think about what that person might have possibly done, or been going through, or the heart that may have impacted whatever decision it is that they made that impacted you in a negative way, forgive them pray about it, if you have to talk about it, if you have to let it go. Because sometimes times we have to have the understanding to give somebody and forgive somebody for something that they never asked forgiveness for. But that doesn’t mean you have to be a doormat. And that doesn’t mean that you have to open yourself up and open your heart up and open your mind and open your home up for disappointment, betrayal and hurt to come again. Again, this is like a working list of some of the things that I’m personally going to be applying my upcoming family functions and how I deal with certain people. Because I don’t want to isolate myself from family, I love the holidays. And I actually love being around family. And so there’s no like list of things that you need to do or that you should do. But these are things that I’m definitely going to be doing myself
Nikita Banks, LCSW 17:47
as the holidays approach,
Nikita Banks, LCSW 17:48
if at all possible in a therapeutic intervention is something that you want to do between here and your upcoming holiday season. Go on Psychology Today, go on Google, go on my website and find yourself a therapist if you have to work through these issues. Because you cannot outrun family it is what it is you are who you are. And there are some people that you’re just going to have to be like, you know what, that’s how so much though is. But in order to deal with them, you have to put yourself in the mental space and an emotional space to deal with them in a way that doesn’t exacerbate the situation. And so my goal, especially for 2017, but for 2018 and beyond is to have the best relationships that I can with the people that I love, no matter how limited they are, no matter how they’re wired, no matter what their personalities are, or their personality issues are or whatever their issues are, or whatever their stuff is, if I love you, I love you. And there are there is no middle ground with me. And so it takes a while for me to open up my heart. Family is something that I do hold sacred. And so for the people that are listening, who don’t have family, a family is who you choose. Sometimes Sometimes we don’t have the benefit of having great relationships with the family that we were born into. But you can also try to focus on mastering the relationships that you have with the people you invite into your family circle. And so for this Thanksgiving, I’m actually going to be spending time with one of my girlfriends that I’ve had for a number of years and her family. And I’m really looking forward to spending that time with them. Because I like watching their families and MX and actually not having to be involved in it. And the things that I’ve suggested today are things that she and I’ve been talking about leading up to her family holiday, but also their things that we’ve been discussing in terms of like me dealing with my family. And so I hope that this is helpful for those who are struggling with their relationships with their families. But if you you are having those kinds of struggles, a professional can definitely help you sort some of those things out. And I’ll tell you right now, as somebody who had the blessing of reconciling with my dad before he left this earth, thank god and I’m in the process of healing some of my other relationships that are fractured in my life and even if it’s open a crack, even if it’s just a sliver of light coming through, but if you have the proper tools and if the other person has the desire to have a relationship with you little strides mean a lot you’ve listened to another episode of The Black therapists podcast. Once again, I’m your host, Nikita Banks, licensed clinical social worker and this is black therapists podcast formerly black in therapy. If you are looking for any information, any resources about today’s show, or if you just want to drop a line and say hey, and subscribe to our mailing list you can do so at our website, black therapists podcast com, you can send us emails at Black therapists podcast at gmail. com and if you enjoyed what you heard today, please like comment, share and subscribe because we want the show to grow as organically as we possibly can. And we cannot do that without you. Thank you for listening be well