Family dinners, triggers, and support systems

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I just came back from a family dinner. We decided to meet up this Sunday because we haven’t seen each other in a while and it was nice to catch up. Truthfully, I was fine not going. Ever since I came clean about my diagnosis, I can never shake the feeling that I do not have support I needed from the people closest to me. So for me, it’s fine if I don’t see them as much. That doesn’t erase the fact that they’re family.

But, alas, I was invited to come and I didn’t have the heart to say no. So up I went, and to be honest…it was really awkward. I tried to mask it by being on my phone all the time, but the tension was palpable. I tried to make nice, smile, and ask questions, but mostly we just delved into silence and I didn’t have the energy to pretend to be okay.

I think most of the tension came from my brother and I. After my diagnosis, I told him what I was going through and his first reaction was anger. He said I was selfish for thinking of committing suicide, when so many people have a harder life than I have. He apologized afterwards, and I forgave him, thinking that he would change, but the second time I was in distress, he called me out for being a sissy and for crying over nothing. I didn’t talk to him months after that.

Eventually, we talked and I forgave him and he apologized once more, but I knew to keep my guard up. As long as I don’t rely on him for any form of support, we’ll be fine.

Which led to this: an awkward relationship with my once-closest brother. I’m still angry at him for not being supportive, to be honest, but I’ve learned to pick my battles and manage my expectations. But I digress.

The dinner, as I said, did not go well. It was silent and my mother tried to lighten the mood but it was to no avail. It wasn’t until my sister-in-law and I talked alone that my spirits were lifted. I told her about my struggle reestablishing my connection with my other brother (which is another issue I’ll write about later) and the support I was getting from my therapist, which was a huge help. Sister-in-law was quick to offer support and encouragement, and she told me that finding a job and eventually living on my own are goals that I can achieve as long as I work hard, never mind my illness or my fears of not pushing through. Comments like these really light me up; they make me realize that there are people who want the best for me after all.

Despite the struggles I had at the beginning of the dinner, it ended well and at the end, I was glad I attended. It just shows that despite the lack of support I’m getting from my brother, I am getting it from my sister-in-law, my mother, and my therapist. Those, for now, are enough.

What about you guys? Who’s part of your support system?

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