Coming back home for the holidays

This phrase will most likely conjure one of two feelings within the reader – either a light, gleeful ecstasy; or what can only be described as a sudden, crushing burden.

To some people, it seems ridiculous that others may not be excited to go back home from university, work, or whatever you just happen to be going home from. “But aren’t you happy to see your parents?” I hear you cry. And the answer is no – no, I’m not.

It has been said so many times that good people can sometimes do bad things. But the reverse is also true. Bad people can also do good things. Nobody is pure evil, just as nobody is pure good. As much as you sometimes want to believe it, nobody is the human embodiment of Satan.

The same can be said for some parents. Abusers can do good things, sometimes. Abusers can be nice. When it suits them. Countless memories of sleepovers and parents’ evenings are flashing before my eyes as I write this. Those too-fake smiles, those laughs and giggles that sound just a bit too high-pitched to be natural. The knowledge that it’s all a facade, and that the mask will drop as soon as we step foot in the house, or as soon as my friends have all gone back to their own parents.

It is not clear why my parents acted like this. Perhaps they were afraid of my friends and teachers reporting their true behaviour back to the police. Perhaps they were just so desperate to be seen as nice people and good parents, despite the way that they were acting on a daily basis.

The point is, just because somebody gives their child a laptop for Christmas, that does not make them a good parent. It means that they care to some degree, yes. But a good parent should not feel the need to be rewarded for something as simple as caring for their child.

You see, being a parent is a selfless job. Yes, if your child does something bad, that is annoying, but you have to deal with it in a healthy way. Simply telling them that what they did is a bad thing should be enough. Hitting them over the face multiple times for accidentally letting a door slam behind them is not. There are many names for a person like that, but healthy is not one of them.

If your child’s religious views and beliefs are different from yours, you do not have the right to force them into something that they do not want to do. If you are a Christian, and your child is an atheist, you do not have the right to force them into going to church every Sunday and praying before every meal. If they don’t believe, then they don’t believe. It really is as simple as that. Especially when it gets to the point that dragging them to church every week is triggering anxiety attacks because even the building itself brings back so many bad memories. When I was 17, my parents would just leave me alone in a room in the church, while I had to use every last ounce of energy just to stay conscious, so I wouldn’t fall down the marble steps and injure myself.

“What’s the point in dragging you to church if you’re not even watching the sermon?”

Power play. That’s all it boils down to, isn’t it? People like my parents want to have control over their children. As if we’re puppets that they can manipulate, instead of human beings. God forbid you have your own opinions.

So, hopefully you can now see why some people only feel a surge of fear and sickness when they hear the phrase “coming back home for the holidays”.

Of course, there are ways of distracting yourself whilst there. I find writing to be a very effective outlet. If you are old enough to work, you could try to find a Summer job. If not, then perhaps you could try to find some volunteer work. Plenty of charity shops are looking for extra help around this time of year.

This may sound hypocritical, as I am writing this on my laptop, alone, in my bedroom; but please try not to stay isolated for too long. Especially if you are spending the majority of your time in your parents’ house. It really can get to you in all the wrong ways. Try to visit your friends, if you have any who live nearby. Go to the beach. Go to the park. Go to the library. Walk your dog, if you have one. Go into town, even if it’s just to window shop. See if there are any free events going on in your city. Just get out of the house. It will be much better for your mental health than just sitting on your bed and watching Netflix all day (no matter how tempting that may sound). It might even make it easier to deal with your parents.

As much as I wish the concept of every parent being a loving, good person would die right now, the reality is this: there is not much that we can do about it. If a person has been raised by two loving parents, it may be difficult for them to see every other parent as anything other than kind and loving. Our experiences of the world and its inhabitants mould our perception; and so the world looks different to every person living in it. You cannot expect every other person to be wary of somebody that they have just met, just because that person looks or acts a bit like their mother; just as you cannot expect every person to look upon peanut butter with disgust, just because you personally find peanut butter disgusting.

All we can do for now is just try to make it through each day at a time, until we can be free again.

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