I had a wonderful Thanksgiving with my family. Everything was perfect! This was the first time I went to pick up the HoneyBaked Ham and there was no line. It was a Christmas miracle! My mac and cheese turned out perfectly. My brother even said it gets better every year and he kissed my cheek while chewing a mouthful of macaroni. That compliment alone ensured that I will be making it again next year. I even went to see the NC Symphony play "Home Alone" in which they showed one of my favorite Christmas movies and played the music live. I could barely contain myself from smiling so big. I was overjoyed! My Thanksgiving went really well and I know it had everything to do with God...and with me.
Each of us plays a very specific role in our families. Often that role is decided in childhood and we continue to play that part into our adult years. Some people play the role of "black sheep" "the successful one" or "the one who got out". Others are the perpetual "baby" of the family. Some are "the one you can call on." Others spend their adult lives stuck in the role of "Mama's boy" or "Daddy's girl." Although we might function completely differently at work or at home, when we get around our family, it is almost natural to fall into place. Do you like the role you play in your family? Does the assignment work for you?
As an adultified child, my role was to take care of my siblings, plan what was going to happen, fix things when there was a problem, and emotionally support everyone else. As a girl, I did not really have a choice in this assignment; it was what I was expected to do. As an adult, I continued to play this part because I associated it with my ability to get love and approval from my family. Over the years I was getting exhausted and angry because my role involved me taking care of others and getting little in return.
As I realized the role I played in our family dysfunction, I decided to play a new part. I decided I wanted to be daughter, sister, and aunt. I begin to define exactly what that meant I would do, and also what I would not do. I gave myself permission to make conscious choices about what I would take on, and what I would leave for others to do. This is one of the hardest adjustments I have ever had to make. Changing your role within your family of origin can be scary. My changes were gradual. The first time I ended a call when I realized I was being emotionally dumped on, I boo-hoo cried because I was scared that my family member would be mad at me (and I used to fear "making" people upset). I begin to say no when folks asked me for money. I would even add, "Please don't ask me for money anymore." I stopped volunteering to do things I didn't want to do. Miraculously, things started to change. Folks stopped calling me all the time with problems that had nothing to do with me. No one really asks me for money. I am not the first, or only, person who is called when there is a family problem. Making these changes has caused me to really like being in my family even more. I think everyone has benefited. Irresponsible people have become slightly more responsible. People with problems have learned ways to solve their own issues. I do not think anyone thinks "Adrianne will do it" anymore because they know that I just might not. It's great!
This year, I got to sing all the words to the Jackson 5 "I saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" while making my famous mac and cheese and enjoying my holiday being an awesome sister and daughter. I laughed a lot. I even danced a little!
What role have you created, or allowed, for yourself within your family? Do you like it? Is it consistent with how you want to be known? Does it allow for the treatment you desire? Are you happy? Having a coach on your team can be an important part of your success and self-care through the holidays. You have my permission to change your role with your family, romantic relationship, or friendships. Be who and how you want to be! Most importantly, B. Well!
In Renewal, Readjustment, and Recreation,
Dr. Adrianne R. Pinkney,
Integrative Wellness and Life Coach