What does Labor Day mean to you? A three day weekend? Time off work? The end of summer? Family time and traditions? Or just another reason to feel set apart? For those who are socially isolated or disconnected from their families holidays can be painful and lonely rather than enjoyable.
Like I said about Memorial Day:
Holidays of all sorts can be challenging for many of the clients I work with. Extra unstructured time off, the sense that everyone but you is celebrating with friends and family, feeling disconnected from the traditional meaning of a holiday can all leave you feeling more alone and set apart.
I’ve been writing recently about how important connections are for our sense of well-being. Our culture seems to reinforce the idea that family ought to be the most primary and important source of these connections. What does this mean then for those who are estranged from their families of origin? Or those who are triggered on this or any holiday with memories of childhood abuse? Not everyone’s reality matches the messages we see through media and advertising about what family is supposed to be.
Some people are not able to have healthy connection with the family they were born into. Perhaps you were rejected or disowned when you came out as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Perhaps you have had to choose to have little to no contact due to toxic or abusive family dynamics. These are of course important losses that need to be acknowledged and grieved! But in no way does a lack of family of origin connection mean you must be doomed to no family at all!
Some people seek to fill this gap by cultivating a “Family of Choice”. I first became aware of this concept in LGBT communities, but this concept can work for anyone. Perhaps because LGBT folks still experience discrimination and rejection from families and society at large, some have learned to create tight kinship networksade up of friends, partners, sometimes even ex-partners: a Family of Choice.
Families of Choice can serve all the same functions you wish your family did/could: love, support, companionship, shared holiday traditions. This time you get to choose, so choose wisely! See Relationships after Severe Trauma: Making Healthy Choices.
Do you have a Family of Choice?
Who would you select to be part of your Family of Choice?
What characteristics would be important to you?
What kind of new memories/traditions/celebrations do you or could you share with your Family of Choice?
Wishing you peace and connection on this and every holiday,