What is acceptance? 1)It is the action of consenting to receive or undertake something offered. 2)The action or process of being received as adequate or suitable.
The holidays are all about acceptance, right?
We give money to strangers ringing bells, donate clothing, buy unwrapped gifts for charities and have a drink with people from the office that we wouldn’t otherwise bring water to, even if they were dying of thirst.
And we go home and visit family and extended ones, for an elaborate meal.
We all seem to like what these holidays represent or are supposed to but for many of us, the contract we have with family members give us stress, tension and fills us with trepidation. Movie companies have made millions on this topic.
The memory is an interesting character and a very convenient one. While we may only remember the good about a meal, someone else might only remember the bad, which can make coming together nearly impossible. Most people have a hard time forgetting and will cling to the bad like velcro.
I don’t know why edibles aren’t a staple the minute you walk in the door at family gatherings. They would break the ice, cut the tension, release all inhibitions, probably provide more than a few necessary moments of laughter and maybe even allow people to be their real selves and speak some much needed truth. Starting with your strong dislike of where they put you to sit.
Like being in a dentist’s chair, you’re a captive audience to the person sitting next to you. Your conversation for the evening could either be about The Little Mermaid, their new hip or dead silence while they sneak text their friends. There is a lot of noise at the table but generally no conversations. The latest movie might be mentioned, the weather, a book they downloaded on their kindle or their next vacation.
Hours later, after checking your watch to make sure it hadn’t stopped, you finally head towards the door to leave. You have never felt so alive or so happy to see all these people…fade from the distance as you back out of the driveway, swearing you will never do this again.
We leave the meal with a list of grievances, starting with the one we have with ourselves for putting up with ill mannered treatment and off handed comments from people who say they love us, because they magically get away with treatment we would never put up with from anyone else. Why is that?
These contracts we have with our loved ones allow us to accept the unacceptable. We tell ourselves, “They didn’t really mean it.” “That’s just the way they are.” “It’s only once a year.” They seem to get a pass for being rude, dismissive, condescending and just plain mean. Which makes me wonder why we accept unacceptable conditions, when it comes to love?
Isn’t love supposed to be supportive? Generous? Kind? Sweet? Loving? I think so, but some people are in such pain, they cannot express anything other than regret, anger and fear, which often comes across as control. If you know this then their words cannot hurt you. Most people are not intentionally trying to hurt you. They are usually triggered by some deep seeded pain which has nothing to do with you at all.
And while their words are like weapons and might sting a bit, remembering it is their pain and not yours, allows you to accept their otherwise unacceptable behavior towards you, even if it’s from the people who say they love you most.
And if you can’t handle their pain, and you simply cannot accept what you feel is unacceptable behavior, then you can choose not to spend a holiday with them or any time at all for that matter. After all, when you break it down, your time is the absolute most precious gift you can give someone. Give is to those who give it back.