The last two days for me have involved lots of food and lots of time with my in-laws. Before I say anything else, I want to make clear that I truly love my in-laws, and if none of my other dreams in life ever see the light of day, I’ll still consider my life a success if I continue to have such a strong family life.
Yet because my in-laws are such truly wonderful people, it is often stressful for me. Yes, I get that holidays are stressful for a lot of people for a variety of reasons. I get that lots of people are stressed by holidays because of mothers or mother in-laws that exhaust you by offering unsolicited advice, or uncles who go on rants about what is wrong with politics these days, or family pictures that get spread around that embarrass you in front of your spouse of whatever. Those are all normal stressors of family life, but none of them are why the holidays stress me out.
What stresses me out is the constant nagging feeling that I don’t belong. That I am a fraud who has somehow snuck in to steal food and family time that I don’t deserve. Deep down I know this is wrong. Time and time again my in-laws have proven how welcoming of me they are, and how supportive they are of me being a part of their family. Their help planning and setting up my wedding alone was a task that I don’t think I could ever properly thank them for, and one that demonstrates unequivocally that they are truly wonderful and welcoming people, and that my mental illness lies as it attempts to isolate me from people who love me so that it can continue to wreak havoc on my mind. And on most good days, I can remind myself of that and keep the mental illness from winning. Hopefully, if your holiday was stressed for similar reasons, this post will remind you that mental illness lies as well.