Reflections: Better Family Visits

For the majority of the past four years or so of living on my own, I have struggled with making encounters with my family positive. I was mostly trapped in a vacuum of thinking like I did when I lived with them because their reactions would trigger me to do so. This also traditionally left the last words I had during these visits be negative and I would regret my word choice.

It cannot go without saying that the first three years weren’t helped by the combination of a negative friendship and the lack of medication for the majority of time. The nine months I called my parents residence home was the deepest of the struggles and I am continually thankful for my current home and eventually I would end the toxic friendship I had, yet I struggled to have positive interactions with my parents.

For one, I had to accept the fact that no matter how hard I tried, I cannot change my parents’ ways of thinking. They are who they are and I had handed them a lot throughout my life and especially in the past four or so years. I also had to accept the fact that they are getting up in years and with the world going the way it was with many around their age and even younger than them no longer being on this earth, I have to cherish each visit I have with them and make it the best experience I can.

The same can go for family gatherings, which we have not had the privilege of having over the past few years because of one factor or another. The last few I know for sure I was not my best because of both the negative friendship and the medicine until recently I accepted the fact that it is a pivotal part of my mental health recovery. Having this come into play has made me become a better person without a doubt and more able to withstand the ability to endure the visits with my family including my parents.

This past Thanksgiving was one of the better occasions that we as a family had for some time. I was able to be myself more and not feel so lethargic or miserable because I have been on my medication regimen for some time, which helped immensely. I was thankful to have everyone as a family as they are growing up. But it was also nice to be seen as a person who lives on their own and is just as equal as everyone else in the family and accepted for who I am. 

Yes, my autistic traits and behaviors are present, but they are not overly animated or expressed in the manner that it is when I was not taking care of myself. I can also recognize my need to have down time before and after the gathering and knowing that I need to rest after a certain length of time before extending myself further so I can be myself.

Later that day, in a group text my mother recognized how much she enjoyed having everyone as a family together for the holiday as we all enjoyed ourselves and my mother was also glad that I could enjoy myself throughout the day at my best. It has been a long work in progress to get to this point but we are here and I am starting to see more of the value of me being my best and knowing what I need to do to be that way. I would have to say that it is a no-brainer that this is the way to be to be well. Everyone sees it and I am who I want to be and less of what I am not seen as well. People know when I am not my best and I need to recognize it.  No matter how much I wanted to deny it, I know this frame of mind is where I need to be for me and all involved.

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