Is. 78 | how I learned to let go of my expectations for Holiday Family Time
plus Winter Collective Rest and Miyazaki!
Dear Cosmos Community,
I’m not big on Holidays that emphasize Family Time, so yes, Thanksgiving and Christmas. I can only say that to you now because I’m no longer ashamed of it.
After I turned 12, holidays became the time for my nuclear family to split and fray, my dad taking Thanksgiving to fly to New York to see his dad and brother, and my mom claiming Christmas Day to see her parents and siblings, occasionally with my sister and I in tow. I respected their practical immigrant mentality — flights were cheapest on Holidays — but I longed for the Holiday Family Time of my childhood, my mom eating all the Christmas cookies she baked, my dad hand writing letters from Santa, personalized to me and my sister.
As an adult, I felt stupid and immature longing for this Family Time, but it taunted me like Gatsby’s green light (the holidays always remind me of The Great Gatsby for some reason), and I kept reaching towards it. I’d orchestrate elaborate family interventions, trying to force my uncooperative family to come together for the holidays. I’d plead and cry and yell on the phone, employing all kinds of unhealthy relationship tactics, only to end up bitter and disappointed in my family, yes, but most of all, in myself, for believing in and so desperately wanting Holiday Family Time. It was like Santa Clause — a magical and mystical thing that I looked forward to all year, that I tried to be good for. I didn’t want to stop believing in this fantasy because that would mean addressing where it came from — unresolved childhood tRaUma (all my roads seem to lead there, ha!).
I’ve been doing EMDR Therapy for four months, and while my therapist points to the drop in my PTSD scores as a tangible sign of progress, I felt the change in me most when I spent this Thanksgiving alone — wrapped in two fleece blankets, cooking soondubu for one, playing hours of Super Mario Odyssey, napping on the couch, alone, but content.
Yes, there were hours where I felt lonely, where I fluttered on the edge of the black vortex of anxiety, but I’d take a deep breath and pull myself back to where I was. I did not long for Holiday Family Time, and I did not feel ashamed to be alone. I accepted my family’s choice to be apart, and I felt the great peacefulness of letting go of Holiday Family Time notions likely fed to me by late stage capitalism (had to throw in a capitalism critique, sorry!!)
I had wanted togetherness from my family for decades, as if that would fix the gaps and holes and hurts. But when I finally started filling my own holes, I found a new kind of love, one that I’m still getting to know — the love of accepting my family for what it is, together, or not.
Karen (@themokstories), Co-Founder of The Cosmos
A place to help you find Asian American therapists & mental health practitioners committed to serving the community. Posts are sponsored by practitioners. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested in a feature!
Rachel Klebanov | Licensed Psychotherapist and Graduate Professional Counselor | Website
As a trauma-informed, multicultural, bi-racial Asian American therapist, I am excited to offer a group experience for individuals like me--a Multicultural Identity Therapy Group, coming early 2022! Residents of Washington, DC and Maryland are welcome to this warm, affirming space to explore growing up between two or more cultures, while navigating relationship, family, and career decisions! Folks who identify as children of immigrants are welcome.
If this sounds right for you, schedule a free 15 min consultation with Rachel here or email Rachel directly at email@example.com.
Pricing | $60 per session (no insurance) or covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield (but check your insurance plan for any co-pays!)
Dec 8 | Winter Collective Rest with The Cosmos | 7 PM ET | 4 PM PT
Join us for a free 1-hour guided relaxation practice because…it’s the holidays and everything feels stressful!
In this virtual healing space, we will lay down, separately but together, for a soothing journey towards deep rest. Through gentle breathing, visualization, and meditation, you'll be supported in slowing down and caring for your mental health. There is no requirement to speak and you'll be encouraged to show up with video off. Come as you are, and bring your blankets, pillows, fuzzy socks, and pets! :)
Miyazaki is all I have for Culture Corner this week, but it’s more than enough! The famed Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki recently announced he’s coming out of retirement to make one last film, to be titled “How Do You Live?” — a question so simple and yet layered, as all of Miyazaki’s films have been to me. And then his response: “I am making this movie because I do not have the answer.”
Don’t mind me taking the rest of the year to rewatch all of the Studio Ghibli films on Netflix — thanks for the inspiration, Cass!
Email me your favorite Miyazaki fiilm - I’d love to compare notes :)
See you next week for the launch of The Cosmos 2021 Gift Guide!!!!