Simon I have to go home to my parents for Thanksgiving. I can’t leave early (my boss needs me in a certain place at a certain time for flight reasons) but I have a very bad relationship with my parents. My mom told me that they knew I was suicidal and chose to let me deal with it on my own rather than help me. Before I moved out I couldn’t allow myself to be angry, but now that I have, I haven’t stopped being angry at them. I’m going home to visit them, but how do I last two weeks in their home?

Firstly… Why the hell would you do that? Don’t go. That’s simply mad. Better to stay home cooking yourself a feast you then package and share with those in need, than visit two people who see fit to claim you but not to assist you when you need help.”Blood” does not equate with “family”. Thanksgiving is meant to spend the time being thankful, not ripping out your own hair or drinking to help your anxiety.

Secondly, if you cannot back out of the plans (which you absolutely should do and simply continue to do, until they take the hint), I advise you to spend as little time on them as possible. Ignore them. Bring your phone and message me and I will keep you company if able. You must not let them bait you into arguments. You must simply get up and say “I’m sorry, but I don’t want to talk about this.” or “If you want me to visit, please treat me with respect, or I don’t need to visit anymore.” They may have made you, but you have the right to draw boundaries. You have the right to demand those be respected. You have the right to be cold, aloof, and to disengage from anything harmful.

Thirdly, I know that when you walk into such a situation, the emotions become strained and your body begins to slip into fight or flight. You need to learn to stop it. I find the best way to do this (a technique I use when trying not to eat people in everyday life) is to continue an internal monologue about something mathematical or scientific. Anything that tends toward the rational accounting of figures. Balance your checkbook in your mind and let that run like a canned laugh track over top of your mother’s incessant buzzing. Leave the room often. Don’t engage in conversations. And if they ask what’s wrong with you and why are you so distant, you have a choice. You can say, “Because I don’t feel particularly cared for by this family and all of this seems mechanical or stressful for me.” Or you can make up some other excuse.

If you are staying for a long period of time, I recommend keeping everything tidy and in the suitcase or bag. Clean up after yourself. Tell yourself you are not their child, subject to tossing in their emotional seas. You are actually just there to clean up the mess and stand on the porch. Reframe your purpose there. You are not there to be mistreated. You are there to simply enhance the scenery and comment on the weather.

I hope this helps you. Perhaps others of my gentle readers can supply ideas. I never had parents, though I’ve had my unhealthy share of uncomfortable housing situations.

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