It’s American Thanksgiving today. In the midst of the bustle of holiday prep, I have survivors on my mind; those, like me, who are estranged from family. Whatever the status of our family relationships, so many of us feel misunderstood by loved ones who minimize or deny the weight of our experiences. They just don’t get it. And maybe they never will.
But hey, I have good news. Over the years, I have discovered that I do not have to rely on those people to know who I am, how I feel, and what I need. I am supremely grateful that I have arrived at this place after years of feeling confused and alone. I get it now–that my experiences and my feelings matter. Thankfully, so do the many people I know and love who support me every day of the year.
Here’s what I know:
I am the only authority on me. I know what I’ve lived through, how it’s affected me, what I needed then, and what I need now. Nobody else gets to tell me differently. And if they try, I now have the confidence to shut them down. I will no longer waste my time trying to convince other people to understand.
I will never “make nice” and attend a family gathering with my abuser present.
I do not have to accept family members’ choices to remain “neutral” in the case of our broken relationship–despite the fact that he objectively injured me.
I will always reject the fact that my family members seem to equate the actual abuse with my anger at him over the abuse.
I am not the troublemaker in the family, I’m just the person who’s calling out painful truths that others would rather not see.
I will not be silenced. My voice deserves to be heard and respected. And so do yours, my friends. Together we can break abusive cycles and grow stronger in the light of the truth.
Happy Thanksgiving, survivors. I see you, I believe you, and I will be here to keep reminding you that your truth matters, no matter who disagrees.