Dear Chip #8: “Into a Pack of Blindfolded Hyenas”

Dear Chip #8: Into a Pack of Blindfolded Hyenas

Dear Chip,

At what point are relatives not family? One time I dread during each year is Thanksgiving and Christmas. This year, I’m glad to say that I had the best Thanksgiving of my life at home, but it’s not always like that. Usually, we go all the way to another town just so I can suffer for hours and eat mediocre food before leaving and never speaking to those people until another holiday. I wouldn’t mind if I enjoyed meeting those people, but aside from my grandparents and two of my cousins, I hate being at any family gatherings. My close family is the odd one out at the gatherings already, but it’s especially hard for me since I’m the odd one out within them. Me being put with a bunch of evangelicals is like sending a baby giraffe into a pack of blindfolded hyenas. I know it’s not like I can change my family, but all I get from them are panic attacks, mental breakdowns, and the desire to knock someone’s teeth in. Is there any way to convince my parents to let me stay behind, or at least let me chill with music the entire time?

Best, Anxious Outcast



Dear Anxious Outcast,

I totally understand what it’s like to be in an uncomfortable situation when it comes to family. Trust me when I say, if your family is anything like mine, it doesn’t get easier, but at the same time, it’s not that hard to deal with. You just need to find a place where you feel either the most comfortable or the most at ease.

You mentioned that you have two cousins that you actually like hanging out with, so maybe you can spend the entire time with them? That’s what I do. I have this cousin (let’s name him A) that I love hanging out with but at the same time, I’m not a fan of hanging out with his sisters because one annoys me and the other one is too young for me to fully connect with. I guess that sometimes you have to make sacrifices because in order for me to hang out with him, I have to hang out with at least one of his younger sisters.

When it comes to anxiety because of family members you are talking to the ruler of panic attacks. Loud noises and big crowds scare me so you can imagine how well family reunions go. At least two panic attacks and a lot of awkward moments. The best thing I could advise you to use is to find someplace either isolated or at least less visited and call a friend. If you aren’t allowed to call a friend then I’m going to give you the same advice I gave a friend of mine. If you have a comfort character, whether it’s from an anime, cartoon or realistic tv show, think of them comforting you. Ignore everything around you and focus on them, whether they’re there or not. If you don’t have a comfort character, then think of either a fantasy world or go to your happy place and only focus on that until your anxiety subsides.

Don’t let them get into your head. That’s what they want. They want you to feel inferior to them because they think they should be in charge. My aunt (let’s call her Brit) has cut off ties from my mom and their mom. Well Brit recently started calling her sister (let’s name her Kris) and asking her things related to my immediate family. My mom wasn’t having this and started getting mad. Brit started getting into my mom’s head because it’s the type of thing she does. She doesn’t like to be left out even though she’s the one who cut ties with the rest of us, so the only thing she knows what to do is mess with everyone’s head.

I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t let them get to you. Let’s say, hypothetically speaking, that you were a homosexual, and you had homophobic family members who you barely see. Well, those same family members will try to put you down and make you feel worse than you usually do. You know what you need to do? You either have to look them in the eye and tell them you’re proud of who are, or just walk away and let them know that their comment doesn’t bother you.

In short, I know what it feels like to have those types of family members. If none of the methods I gave you work then at least remember that it will soon be over and then you can go home and not have to deal with them for a while. I’m really sorry you have to deal with them but I wish you luck for Christmas.