Podcast: Families and Holiday Survival

Join us on a bad journey into the past that leads to a lot of arguments and laughter.

(Transcript available below)

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About the not crazy podcast hosts

Gabe Howard is an award-winning writer and public speaker living with bipolar disorder. He is the author of the popular book, Insanity is an asshole and other observations, available from Amazon; signed copies are also available directly from Gabe Howard. To learn more, please visit his website, gabehoward.com.

Lisa is the producer of the Psych Central podcast Not Crazy. She is the recipient of the National Alliance on Mental Illness' Above and Beyond award, has worked extensively with the Ohio Peer Supporter Certification program, and is a workplace suicide prevention trainer. Lisa has battled depression her entire life and has partnered with Gabe for over a decade to advocate mental health. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband. enjoys international travel; and orders 12 pairs of shoes online, chooses the best and sends the other 11 back.

Computer generated transcript for “Vacation survivalepisode

Editor's note:: Please note that this transcript was computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammatical errors. Many thanks.

Lisa: Y.You're listening to Not Crazy, a Psych Central podcast hosted by my ex-husband with bipolar disorder. Together we created the Mental Health Podcast for People Who Hate Mental Health Podcasts.

Gift: Hi everyone, and welcome to this week's Not Crazy podcast, I'm your host, Gabe Howard. And with me, as always, is Lisa Kiner. Lisa.

Lisa: Hey everyone, and today's quote is from Leo Tolstoy. All happy families are equal, every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

Gift: I hate that we introduce the topic of vacation survival by talking about how unhappy our families are making us.

Lisa: I always liked this quote.

Gift: I, no, I mean it's a great quote, the grass is always greener. Everyone is dysfunctional, right? We all understand. We are all unhappy.

Lisa: This is not.

Gift: Doesn't that mean? What do you think it means

Lisa: This means that each dysfunction is unique.

Gift: Right, but that also means everyone stops working.

Lisa: No it doesn't. I think so too, but it's not like that, no, that's not at all what it implies.

Gift: But don't see it as a way of telling how, yes, they are happy, but don't worry, they are still dysfunctional. That way, when you live in a dysfunctional family, you can be as if that family seems happy. But Leo Tolstoy reminds me that they screwed up too.

Lisa: I take it this way, yes this family looks happy, but that just means they're from Stepford, they don't have any uniqueness or personality, they're just a bunch of boring, boring ones. I don't know what is boring. Oatmeal? Porridge?

Gift: Oatmeal?

Lisa: I dont know.

Gift: Oatmeal and porridge. You went straight to dinner

Lisa: I'm trying to think of something boring.

Gift: All of our analogies are with food.

Lisa: Beige, i don't know

Gift: Beige, yes.

Lisa: So what? What is? Help me in this case. What do people say when they try to point out leniency?

Gift: I usually mean like your husband?

Lisa: Haha.

Gift: It's pretty boring. It is not his fault. I mean he has to be like that, you are like that. So he did

Lisa: Correct,

Gift: To be different, to balance yourself.

Lisa: The great thing about boring men, Gabe, is that they can keep a job.

Gift: I mean it's true

Lisa: Yes / Yes.

Gift: That he's more stable than me, but I'm more fun.

Lisa: They are definitely more unpredictable.

Gift: You will ever notice that, like popular culture, television shows, movies, and even books, they have wealthy families and have reached a peak of success that we envy. But within that enviable wealth, they make sure they have nannies because they don't spend time with their children. Oh, they are so busy. So you are not that close.

Lisa: Yes.

Gift: And then they show the middle class family. And yes, they have all kinds of financial problems. But they are so close and loving and together. So, they are just making sure that even though you are rich, because you and your family are closer together, you are still better. This quote reminds me of that.

Lisa: It is a mechanism of social control. It's one of those things like working an honest day for an honest daily salary, or, you know, it's one of those things, those things that encourage poverty to go on. After all, rich people aren't really happy and don't really love each other. See, you're poor or even middle-class, but it's okay because you have love that really is more precious in the end. This is one way to strengthen the class structure.

Gift: I totally agree and what we are talking about, mechanisms of social control, this is how a lot of people feel on vacation. We like the holidays, but holidays have this control mechanism, right? You are expected to spend time with friends and family. You are expected to eat turkey on Thanksgiving. You are expected to make gifts for Christmas and other December holidays. While the rest of the year you might just be a Kurmudgeon who never calls your mother, you better call your mother over the holidays. And that for many people, especially people who find their families frustrating or even toxic, social control is poor on vacation because they suddenly no longer want to spend time with friends and family and I don't. I don't know why they are your friends if you don't want to hang out with them. But while they don't want to spend time with their families, society is pushing them in that direction.

Lisa: Yes, there are a lot of expectations for the holidays and you cannot escape them.

Gift: I like that word, expectations, when we talk about vacation survival. How do you survive the vacation when you have time to spend with friends and family? And I don't know why I keep saying friends and family, why are they your friends if you don't like them?

Lisa: Sorry, this is not funny at all.

Gift: I'm giving this to Lisa, right?

Lisa: I can't, I can't relate to this situation in any way.

Gift: Why are we friends?

Lisa: A question for the ages.

Gift: I'm not spending the vacation with you. Sincerely, Lisa, when it's March, April, May, June, July and we think our families are bad for our sanity, we dodge the phone call from mom and dad like it's a job. As if we're so amazing just to miss that call and make sure we don't send it to voicemail because mom and dad found out two ringtones mean you rejected their call. But if you let it ring all the way through. We're really great at making sure we call them back when we know mom and dad are in the bowling league. Like all of these games that we play. But suddenly November and December come along and we think all right, I'll do it. I suppose we could just do an entire podcast on the psychology of why the holidays make us do things that frankly may be against our best interests. But let's go in a positive direction and say that this is an opportunity to fix fences. It's an opportunity to maybe build a bridge with mom and dad we love. Do you love your parents lisa

Lisa: Naturally.

Gift: No, is that, is that of course the answer that you are more likely to decline an invitation in June than in December?

Lisa: No, you actually complained about this several times.

Gift: Yeah, but that was during our marriage when I stole your youth. How do you feel now that your youth is gone?

Lisa: Obviously, all adult children have difficult relationships with their parents.

Gift: I love the way you say that, no it's not true, not all of our listeners, but not all adults. I think you hung out with a Not Crazy fan base too much.

Lisa: All adult children have difficult relationships with their parents, but I think, for example, mine is less difficult than average and less difficult than yours.

Gift: Are we preparing to play what I call the family that suffers from the Olympics?

Lisa: Ooh, family suffers from Olympics. On the one hand, I have a feeling that you will win, but I don't know, I have some competitors.

Gift: However, it's interesting that our families are very different, and when I say they are very different, it's amazing to me, Lisa, because they're actually pretty much the same. As you pointed out, we

Lisa: Yes, they are actually almost identical.

Gift: No, I'm not trying to be mean. And I'm completely intrigued that you think we're alike because both of us are from the Midwest. In your eyes is a . attorney from Columbus, Ohio, and let's say, oh, I don't know, a homeless man from Ohio is similar because they were both born in Ohio.

Lisa: I just feel like we were both the oldest, we grew up in nuclear families, we have younger siblings, you know what I mean?

Gift: First of all, you have younger siblings,

Lisa: That's right.

Gift: I have younger siblings. So my parents fooled me more than your parents fooled you. I have two, two, Susan and Gary to deal with. You only have a Leroy and Susan spawn to fight. Oh, that's why you think they're the same. Both of our mother's names are Susan.

Lisa: That's right.

Gift: Huh, I find it fascinating that you think our families are so similar. And one of the reasons why I totally oppose this is that again my family neither believed in nor had a higher education. Your family believed in higher education, had higher education, and began working on you from second birth to go to college. I had a different father while I was born because I was adopted. So there are some big differences. My mother, a mother who stays at home. She was a housewife and proud of it.

Lisa: I think there is a difference.

Gift: Your mother makes derogatory remarks about housewives who she calls non-feminists.

Lisa: Ok one, no, that's ridiculous, feminism is about choice and of course you can choose to stay home or not, it doesn't matter. My mother would never say that. That's ridiculous.

Gift: Ok but she thinks so.

Lisa: No she does not. When I was growing up, most of the people around us had mothers who were at home. And my mother didn't stay home. She worked. And she got a lot of crap for that. But no, that doesn't mean they. No no no no.

Gift: You know I never saw it that way I thought it was the bummer that she wanted to stay home, mothers. You made a very good point there that your mother was unique in that she was one of the few working mothers and that the mothers who stayed home gave their crap for it.

Lisa: It really annoyed her all the time.

Gift: It had to be difficult for her. OK, I'm corrected. Both sides were seen. You're right. The point I'm making is to look at that. The group my mom linked to my upbringing was honestly the group and I don't try to be mean to my mom, but my mom doesn't like daycare. My mother doesn't like babysitting. My mom doesn't like children being raised by someone else than family members. I'm sorry mom, she looked at your mom. You make a very good point. So when you say our families are the same you can see why I roll my eyes

Lisa: I.

Gift: Knowing that our mothers were in direct contradiction to how best to raise children. Also, did I mention my mom got pregnant in high school? Your mother didn't get pregnant in high school.

Lisa: I think I was honestly surprised when you said you don't believe our families were the same. I feel like our families were pretty much the same. They point out all of these things and they make logical sense. But yeah, I don't feel it.

Gift: Did your father ever raise his voice to you?

Lisa: Oh god no

Gift: Well, wait a minute, wait a second, you said our families are the same. My father once woke me up in the middle of the night to yell at me for not hacking a satellite dish so he could pay per view for free. Did your father ever wake you up in the middle of the night to commit a crime?

Lisa: You are really not painting your parents in a flattering light, and they are actually perfectly fine.

Gift: They said they would be the same if they were

Lisa: I.

Gift: It also means your parents will not be painted in a flattering light.

Lisa: I know again that you are making valid points, and intellectually I can agree. You're right, there are a lot more differences than I thought before. And I think some of them are meaningful. But I still have an emotional feeling that our families are the same. I guess I don't really notice that. I feel like we grew up the same way. But I understand what you are saying I understand what you are saying.

Gift: Did my mother ever abuse you?

Lisa: It's a token of affection, gift. She tried to invite you to the group.

Gift: Ok, my mom invites people into the group by cooking them food. Your mom invites people into the group by being mean to them in public, but they're the same.

Lisa: It makes you stronger. She wanted to make sure you could take it.

Gift: I couldn't.

Lisa: No, you collapsed, you collapsed instantly, it was ridiculous, yes you couldn't take it.

Gift: Remember when I fell apart for Christmas

Lisa: Yes I will.

Gift: So this is where it goes, ladies and gentlemen.

Lisa: Just love the Christmas memories.

Gift: Thanks for your support. One Christmas year, when Lisa and I were still married, Lisa's parents got her a portable DVD player. Now, about a month before Christmas, they had asked me if Lisa would like a portable DVD player and I said no, Lisa has a laptop and the laptop has a DVD player and the DVD player plays DVDs on Lisa's Laptop off. There is no need for a portable DVD player with a smaller screen that is just a DVD player. Christmas day is coming. And Lisa, what are you getting for Christmas?

Lisa: I have a portable DVD player.

Gift: Lisa has a portable DVD player. Now they pointed out that this portable DVD player did not have a computer built into it.

Lisa: I know you had to be there somehow, but yes there seemed to be a lack of understanding of how the technology worked. Yes.

Gift: So, Lisa, ever the good daughter was like, oh, thank you, mom and dad, kiss, kiss. Another difference between my family and your family by the way, because I would have thrown it on my mother's head and thought what the hell? I told you I didn't mean to, lady. But even here our families are the same and yet different.

Lisa: It's ridiculous, you can't criticize a gift, someone gives you a gift, you say thank you.

Gift: My family doesn't do this, my family gets angry, takes it apart, and is judgmental as hell. I like that about us. It's my favorite part of Christmas.

Lisa: Your mom gave me this ugly sweatshirt and I kept it and wore it in front of her the whole time we were together because that's what you do with a gift, you awful ungrateful person.

Gift: My family doesn't do that. That's what your family does to prove the differences. But back to the DVD player anyway. Christmas day continues. And Susan Kiner, I want to take a short break. Lisa's parents are wonderful people indeed. And they gave me my best friend in the whole world. I apologize in advance for what comes out of my mouth.

Lisa: Mm hmm.

Gift: But Lisa's mother looks at me

Lisa: Oh for god's sake

Gift: Now she is that little woman.

Lisa: She ain't tiny, she's six feet tall

Gift: But she's thin as a rail

Lisa: She is very thin, yes.

Gift: She weighs half the weight of your 300 pound, young and capable manly husband. Remember, I was younger and manly then.

Lisa: Oh this is so wrong.

Gift: And she looks at me and says, Gabe, did Lisa like the present? And of course I said she loved the DVD player. Gabe did Lisa like the present? And I said of course she loved the DVD player. Gift. No, she hated it. I told you she already had one, Sue. I do not know what you want. She has a computer with a DVD player and a larger screen. At that point, Lisa became nuclear. Whatever year it was, if you look at the radioactive effects on the world, it rose on Christmas Day. Like what actually happened, I told her mother that she didn't like the gift. What Lisa thought is that I killed a kitten. It was like her anger had disappeared from the charts.

Lisa: Since I explicitly told you not to do this, you already understood the rules of giving. It wasn't that hard. All you had to do was say yes, what a great gift. Thanks, Susan.

Gift: I did. Twice,

Lisa: Many thanks.

Gift: She knew. She could see through my soul.

Lisa: Oh dear God. OK, and that's what he kept saying. I said what's wrong with you Why can't you just say yes, thanks for the gift? And he says, oh my god, I couldn't do it. I couldn't do it. Your mother looked at me.

Gift: She looked at me.

Lisa: A middle aged nurse looked at you and you lost your shit. "Really?"

Gift: Your mother, now come on, your mother

Lisa: She looked at you

Gift: Your mother once told me the story of how she grabbed a man's chest during heart surgery in an operating room, put her foot on the operating table, and started pulling on it as hard as she could. And you wonder why am I buckled up?

Lisa: You do that. That never happened.

Gift: I am not making this up. She told me this story. She also told me that they use craft tools.

Lisa: All right me

Gift: She said they use craft tools.

Lisa: I don't know if these are probably high quality tools. I have a full set of screwdrivers. I dont know.

Gift: See, your mother is scary.

Lisa: Oh my god, are you so scared of all the nurses and doctors? Well, it doesn't matter.

Gift: Yeah what are you talking about I'm afraid of them.

Lisa: Ok, anyway, the point is that you lost your shit. You had the whole thing, oh my god, she's looking at me. I can not stand. I'm crumbling. I just fall apart right away like a Kleenex. I just can't take it.

Gift: It wasn't instant

Lisa: "Really?"

Gift: I stopped twice.

Lisa: It wouldn't have killed you to love the DVD player and of course they would have given us the receipt, we could have returned it, no problem, or taken it as credit for the business. Not the point.

Gift: You sat right there, you knew I was going to break down. Why didn't you stop her?

Lisa: I wasn't sitting right there. I came into the room in the middle of the stream, if I had been sitting right there I would have stopped. Yeah, you completely lost your shit. I told my parents that I didn't like their gift. I'm still mad about it, honestly

Gift: Shocking, Lisa is silent

Lisa: I'm just saying yes.

Gift: Angry about something that happened when we were married

Lisa: It wouldn't have killed you to thank you for the gift, Susan.

Gift: The good news is.

Lisa: What point do you come to

Gift: The point I get is that this was a good Christmas.

Lisa: (laugh)

Gift: This happened when things were going well for Gabe and Lisa on vacation. We had a much worse vacation. Do you remember the vacation And I'm not going to tell whose family it is to cover. Remember the vacation as one of our distant cousins. I think it was a cousin. Just for reasons unknown, just this litany of racist insults unleashed around the table?

Lisa: Yes.

Gift: As if we were just like that, and when you and I started to interfere, the other members said, Oh, don't cause any trouble. You will never change her mind. And we were just amazed. And then do you remember the other holiday that a family member was back on? I don't want to tie this to one of our families, but to the one who is a member of the LGBTQ + community

Lisa: Yes,

Gift: Your significant other and

Lisa: Yes.

Gift: The whole family just lost their shit when they saw this relationship before them. And you and I just had to do anything to calm people down because.

Lisa: What are you doing

Gift: Are you ready? Because there were people in the room who were a little different from them. Still members of the same family.

Lisa: Well, it didn't make any sense either. They knew she was gay. What? What? That made no sense.

Gift: I do not have anything. I can tell you that I believe that good things have come out of these tough discussions and these moves out of our comfort zones. And Lisa, we were upset about these two things for a long time, and we

Lisa: Yes.

Gift: Got pot shots on each other's families which was clearly the wrong way to deal with it for a long time. And then we started playing the vacation family suffering from the Olympics.

Lisa: Family suffers from Olympics.

Lisa: There were some other highlights too, I mean, you know, you always have that drug addict in the driveway.

Gift: There it was.

Lisa: It's been a fun year. Yes.

Gift: You know, I am confident to say that this was one of the cases that happened to our two families. I think it maybe brought us together. I have just.

Lisa: Yes.

Gift: These are difficult things. These are difficult things that need to happen in your family. And they are difficult to watch and difficult to know how to navigate. And here our families are very similar, Lisa. You're right. The way our two families tried to deal with these things was by shoving them under the rug, silently complaining behind people's backs, and pretending everything was fine. We never really got a lot of resolution for any of these things. We got a solution years later. We didn't find a solution that day. And indeed, if you and I speak up, we won't ruin the holidays, we won't ruin Thanksgiving, we won't ruin Christmas, we won't ruin the visit. They make everyone uncomfortable. And

Lisa: Don't even let us.

Gift: And that elephant was in the room, which made everyone uncomfortable, but when you discussed it and came to a solution, you turned bad. Now I don't know about our listeners, but Lisa and I, the only story we have is that we don't shut up. So we tried very hard, which actually made the vacation more uncomfortable.

Lisa: But that's why it's so annoying. It is always amazing that the hypocrisy of the person who creates the terrible, terrible is not the bad. The person who starts using the racist slurs is not the bad one. It's the person protesting against it. Yes you are the problem

Gift: Lisa, this is a very serious question I'm about to ask you, and I want you to punch a punch before you answer. Don't answer with what you think in order to sound your best. Don't answer with what makes you think it will make me happy. How how be honest

Lisa: Oh oh.

Gift: Do you think we could have handled it better? Our tact at the time was just to encourage the screaming and point out how terrible these people were.

Lisa: It wasn't really yelling.

Gift: There was for me. The wrath of Gabe, come on

Lisa: Well.

Gift: I am known as a screamer in my family.

Lisa: Well, that yes, my family doesn't.

Gift: Oh, but I thought our families were the same.

Lisa: OK. All right, you make a lot of fine points. Yes.

Gift: One of the reasons I keep coming back to it, just to step aside a little before we get back to the question, is because I think people do. I think people decide that all families are equal too easily. They decided we must be the same because we are the same age, because we are best friends, because our parents are married, and because we both grew up in Ohio. Do you see how dangerous this comparison is?

Lisa: Well.

Gift: You just discovered that my parents are the same as your parents. This is utter nonsense.

Lisa: We're all in it together.

Gift: You know, of course, but you realize that you can tell differences without being disrespectful. They have decided that we must also be in agreement in order to like people, get along, or find common ground. We have to be the same.

Lisa: I think that simplifies what I am saying here.

Gift: They are pretty much convinced that our upbringing was identical. I don't think it's an oversimplification at all, once I pointed out that my family was a worker and your family was an employee, that would have been enough for most people to do it. That and that alone. The moment I mentioned that I was adopted and you weren't, that would have been enough for most people. I mean just on and on and on it is

Lisa: Did we have the same toys?

Gift: No we have not

Lisa: We had the same cartoons?

Gift: No, you didn't even have cables.

Lisa: Well no

Gift: I had Beavis and Butt-Head and they had reruns of The Brady Bunch on a station that had a clown.

Lisa: A clown? You call him a clown? Superhost wasn't a clown.

Gift: What was he He had white makeup and a red nose.

Lisa: He was, he was himself. He cannot be explained. Anyway, everyone in Northern Ohio knows what I'm talking about. Next.

Gift: But we are exactly the same. I grew up in the big city, you grew up in rural Ohio and still you claim we are the same.

Lisa: You make a good point.

Gift: How many other differences do I have to point out?

Lisa: Yeah, the TV thing, sometimes I'm a little clueless about pop culture because I didn't have it.

Gift: It's really amazing to me that you didn't have Beavis and Butt-Head, you had Daria.

Lisa: Oh, I had Daria when I got into college.

Gift: Oh that's right You went to college and I didn't. Hmm The similarities just keep increasing.

Lisa: I'm sure it's different now because people have the internet, but back when you didn't have cable TV and MTV and then suddenly got it when you were 17 it was amazing. Oh so much TV. I couldn't look away.

Gift: Well, Lisa, just out of curiosity when summer came.

Lisa: Yes.

Gift: The air conditioning setting. Has your family set it up for what? My family was like a 78 when my dad wasn't home, when my dad was home we set them to 74. Well, what did your family set their air conditioner to?

Lisa: We didn't have air conditioning, yes.

Gift: OK that's good. You know, a lot of people don't have air conditioning. It's not a big deal. Well the thermostat for your heat, because you had heat, otherwise you would freeze to death. What heat have you set the thermostat for in your house? What was that?

Lisa: The point he is aiming for is that my family be heated with wood.

Gift: You mean you didn't have an oven?

Lisa: The joke he likes to make is, oh what happened then? Did Pa Ingalls bring out his violin?

Gift: He has?

Lisa: To be fair, my father played the piano. Whatever. Not the point.

Gift: Your father plays all the instruments because he's a teacher.

Lisa: In order to

Gift: Do you remember what my mother said about being a teacher?

Lisa: No.

Gift: This is an accurate quote from my mother. I could never become a teacher because on the second day I would murder the children and go to jail.

Lisa: Your mother actually said that?

Gift: Did you meet my mother Does she look like she has the patience to teach a few teenagers?

Lisa: So you wouldn't have thought mine would. But apparently he did. He was a very successful teacher, very popular.

Gift: Again, your compliments always have that pang, you know, you wouldn't have guessed it because he's such a bastard, but he was actually a very good teacher. In other words, let me put it in another way, Lisa.

Lisa: No, because it seemed so quiet, not a screw

Gift: You know, you wouldn't think Lisa would be a good friend based on her personality and general behavior, but she's actually quite competent at it. You feel fine now, don't you?

Lisa: Do you remember the time when we were married and I needed some crushed ice so I took some ice and put it in a bag and hit it with a hammer?

Gift: Yes that was it

Lisa: And did it freak you out? You said what are you doing I said I need crushed ice. And how do you get crushed ice? How did your parents get into crushed ice? And you said we had an ice machine like normal people. Yes, pffft. Townspeople.

Gift: Really, we are city people? And that makes you different somehow?

Lisa: Huh? Again I still don't understand. Back you distract me Back to the question of how you and your family are supposed to deal with the difficult vacation? And your question was, could we have dealt with it better? And yes, we could have handled it better if we had done what your family is doing now, which is brilliant. And I try to introduce myself to my own family.

Gift: We don't discuss religion or politics.

Lisa: Oh, it's more than that.

Gift: We generally avoid all topics that we cannot agree on.

Lisa: But everyone does that, you have it on a whole different level.

Gift: We have worked very hard as a family to find out all the things that we disagree about and put them off the table and focus on all the things that we can agree on, that there are so many. This was probably the greatest thing my family has done, and it wasn't easy. And we absolutely fall back into old routines. And I'm not saying we're perfect, but we work very hard to just put it aside when there is a difference of opinion. We're just like that, you know, we'll talk about that later. And, you know, my sister and me. And I think this is my favorite example. We couldn't be more different when it comes to politics and religion. And my sister and I just accepted that about ourselves. But we like the same movies. We like that we have the same dark sense of humor. We love Eva, her daughter, of course. We love to joke and we love to explore. And I love my little sister. I just love her so much. And I'm a little congested thinking that I could let something like politics or religion come in between the relationship I have with my sister. My family, we've worked very, very hard to find the things we can agree on, which is largely Emmet Otter's jug band Christmas over the holidays.

Lisa: What I've never seen before.

Gift: And we're only reinforcing that. We love the food, we love the cookies, we love the decorations, we love my mom who is overdone and we love the same movies and we love popcorn. We love making fun of my sister for putting salt on popcorn. It's basically salt with corn, not corn with salt. Debbie, you should get help.

Lisa: Maybe she has a vitamin deficiency.

Gift: We're working very hard to uncover and reinforce these things and it worked, it worked well. Well, that is, I would like to make a small caveat. My grandmother and I discuss politics all the time. My sister and I go one-on-one about other things we disagree on. Do you only have to do this during the holidays? How really? Like your whole family together for the holidays. And you can't find anything that you all agree on? Need to focus directly on what you disagree about? What's wrong with our families? Lisa, what's wrong with your family?

Lisa: Of course everyone is trying to avoid politics, religion etc and I don't really know how to explain this, but your family has taken this to another level. It is wonderful. You just cut it off completely at the pass. There is no such thing as the whole. Oh, let's agree not to agree. No you don't even go there. It stopped long before that. It is great. Like I said, I'm trying to figure out your system so I can get this going in my own household.

Gift: One of the really nice things is that we saw the benefits, right? There are little things we do. We're not leaving the news on. You know so many people turn the news on in their house. And I'm joking it's only an old man thing. When the family gets together, the news runs out. We don't even risk it. We don't want to sit there and have some politicians come and get people to comment on it.

Lisa: I think your mom is even taking the newspaper away, right?

Gift: Oh, we just get rid of everything and we all work together. If someone brings up politics or something like that, it is simply switched off. We work together as a group to make sure this doesn't happen. But I really think the magic in our system is that we saw the benefits. We always argued about politics. We always argued about religion. We always fought well, to be honest, we always fought for everything. It was just our way. Instead of nudging each other for being different in some way, we're now really trying to bring up the things that we have in common. You know, my dad likes to hear about the podcasts. He likes to hear about my career as a speaker. He likes to hear how I use the internet and social media to reach people. It's very fascinating for him. My dad and I also like technology. We love technology and we attract these things. But then something magical happens and things we don't like, we realize the other person likes it. It's fun to hear about. We've joked before about my dad's love for Ice Road Truckers. I do not get it,

Lisa: He really loves Ice Road Truckers.

Gift: But I have to say, and I'm very sincere here, if I had the choice of either listening to my father describe an episode of Ice Road Truckers scene by scene, or arguing with him over a political issue that we don't discuss agree, or a social justice issue that we disagree on, or a religion that we disagree on, I'd rather hear from Ice Road Truckers. It gives him so much pleasure. It's fun to see how much he likes this, even though I don't, I don't get it for free.

Lisa: Is the show still going?

Gift: I have no idea,

Lisa: How many times has he seen each episode? What did you buy him like the box DVD set or something? I mean what's going on?

Gift: I have no earthly idea. But the holidays can be difficult to deal with because we bring so many personalities together and have such high expectations for it. But I think maybe my family's magic is that we just gave up on expectations. We are just like that, you know, whatever happens is going to happen. And slowly, almost by accident, the high-end things went up. You know, until a few years ago my mother never knew how much we loved Christmas.

Lisa: "Really?"

Gift: She didn't know we got a kick out of it. She did it because she loved it. And then everyone came by and fought over things. Well, when everyone comes around to pick each other, disagree, or point out their shortcomings, no one acknowledges the things we like about the holidays. Now that we are no longer fighting, we had to fill the room. You know, suddenly it's stories about past Christmas, the past of Thanksgivings and.

Lisa: Gabe's mother does Christmas hardcore.

Gift: Oh, you've never seen anyone before, there's nothing in their house that isn't decorated for Christmas.

Lisa: It is wonderful

Gift: It's incredible.

Lisa: She even has the little toilet paper cuddles that look like a candle and are red and green with the holly berries. It is wonderful.

Gift: She wraps the pictures and doors to look like gifts.

Lisa: She does.

Gift: Several Christmas trees,

Lisa: I mean I like Christmas etc, but

Gift: Any surface.

Lisa: Yeah, she really goes in everything and has apparently been doing it since you were a kid.

Gift: Oh, since we were kids and we took it for granted and never told her, we never told her because we just thought she knew. Correct. And when we meet then we and I fight.

Lisa: She prepares for Christmas all year round,

Gift: Oh yeah,

Lisa: It is wonderful.

Gift: And I want to tone down the word struggle. I don't want people to think that my family and I were yelling at each other and throwing things or, you know, punching our fists or.

Lisa: Oh no, there is obviously never any violence or throwing, but there is a lot of shouting.

Gift: Yes, there is a lot of yelling and a lot of discussion and there are hurt feelings, even if it's just subtle hurt feelings and people get up and leave the room and then we're not together anymore. As we were just focusing on the other things, it really rose to the top. And I'd love to tell you how we did it, but it really started with us just setting ground rules, no religion, no politics. And frankly, we all work together to change the subject when we come to something we disagree on.

Lisa: I think that's what it means that you are all working together to enforce the rules, so to speak.

Gift: It was very important to us at one point to get over it because honestly people just stopped coming and I didn't want to come. I felt like I was always struggling with my family. And I was. I want to be clear, it was me, and many of these arguments were made by me, as if I wanted to take responsibility for some of the Christmas riots here. I have to take responsibility for creating many of these differences of opinion. But the point is while we disagreed. We didn't agree. Although we liked my mother's decorations, we liked my mother's food, we liked our holiday traditions, we liked Emmet Otter's jug band Christmas, we liked Fraggle Rock. We liked all of the Christmas specialties.

Lisa: Their cakes are amazing.

Gift: Their cakes are amazing. Nobody spent time arguing about what? The president, a local politician? I mean, really, I don't want to get the idea that my family and I aren't openly discussing things like politics, religion, or things on the news because we do, but.

Lisa: But not necessarily at Christmas.

Gift: Yes. Why does it have to be Christmas? And sometimes it's one on one better. You know, I love talking politics to my grandma. One reason for this is that my grandma and I are very much in agreement and will not lie. But if we disagree, nobody screams and we don't do it for Christmas. We have to get to such a system. You know, maybe the whole family doesn't have to be part of the discussion you and your uncle have about which politician is better. Perhaps this is an opportunity for you and your uncle to agree to drink coffee afterwards. For me, this is just for me, Lisa. I was beginning to realize that I had no good reason to go ahead with this. I think I just wanted to fight because I felt uncomfortable and the fights filled the void.

Lisa: I don't think that's necessarily fair. If someone says something incendiary, why not answer? You have to say it. Why shouldn't you be able to answer? Not to mention that there is a whole silence implies approval. So the secret really is that you don't have that initial volley, that it isn't brought up at all, because then you don't have to make that decision, oh god, will I just let him keep going? What am I doing? That is the secret.

Gift: That's the secret, that's the secret, you know, sometimes it is

Lisa: And that's the hardest part. I think it's a bit easier to get people not to answer, but it seems a lot harder to get people to not go there at all.

Gift: It's fascinating to see how my family works, when someone says something you know someone is going to say something. They'll be like, oh, I really love a and of course we're sitting at a table full of b and everyone wants to jump. Correct. You can almost see it, but someone will just change the subject. Oh i really like one. Hey, does anyone see that I was on TV last night? And suddenly we're all talking about 1 and that kind of sends that message to the person who raised a, hey, guy. Nobody wants that. It's not perfect. The worse it is, of course, the harder it is. I wish I didn't have genuinely racists and homophobes in my family. I really do. And I'm not close to these people. And I never miss an opportunity to pull them aside and tell them that this is not acceptable. Old Gabe Howard would have made it public. Old Gabe Howard would have made a scene right there and I'm not sure that was the best way to do it.

Lisa: But the old family dynamics would have had this person explained in detail, but now they don't even go there, they don't even start.

Gift: They don't even start and when they start it shuts down immediately.

Lisa: Right so you don't have to answer.

Gift: The old dynamic was to let that person go on for half an hour. The new dynamic is that the person says it, everyone changes the subject together, and that kind of shame puts that person and that person ashamed of not bringing it up again. Unfortunately, they still believe.

Lisa: Well, but you only have two options: either you decide, OK, that's it, get out, you are no longer welcome here. They are so incredibly exaggerated that you have to go. Or you can find a way to tolerate it. And most people are not ready to kick a family member out. And even if you are ready to do so, there may be other family members who don't. Maybe you are ready to exile one of your cousins ​​or your aunt or whatever, forever. But it's not your mother. It's not your grandmother. You know, the cousin's brother isn't. So you stick with these people unless you are ready to cut them off completely. You are trapped You have to find a way.

Gift: As much as I hate to say it, the worst culprits in our family have disappeared, they have died and I don't want anyone to die, but

Lisa: There is a generational aspect, yes.

Gift: There really is. And it's difficult. And I try to put myself in the shoes of why people tolerate it. You know, your mother explained to you well why she tolerated this behavior. Your mother pointed out that when she was younger, this person was her savior. This person was there for her and this person helped her and this person helped craft the woman your mother has become and is very proud of. And obviously the woman your mother became was allowed to marry and give birth to my best friend. And now we have a podcast and.

Lisa: The world turns.

Gift: Yes, your mother didn't like what that person said, but your mother was willing to accept that this person can be two things. This person can be terribly wrong and still be their savior, a person who was very relevant to their childhood. Now we don't have the same emotional attraction to that particular relative. Correct. We.

Lisa: Correct.

Gift: I imagine that this is very difficult. I often think what if Lisa goes crazy? Lisa still saved my life so I will always love you. But what if you take a terrible position that I just can't get over and have to cut off communication? Am i ready for this? This is the difficulty in families. Yeah, we don't like cousin Bob. You know, cousin Bob is an asshole and we hate him. But maybe the reason we tolerate Cousin Bob is because of something Cousin Bob's dad did, or because Cousin Bob was the only one around when we needed Cousin Bob to take us to the emergency room when we were sick.

Lisa: People can be two things, they can be terrible and have this good side too, or vice versa.

Gift: One of the things I think I would encourage people to remember when looking at loved ones who are mean to them and wondering why the family tolerates that person. This person is clearly terrible to me. They can be terrible to you, and you can be absolutely right. But maybe they were nice to someone you love. And that's exactly what they have in common. I don't think Gabe Howard and Lisa Kiner's parents will ever be besties, but our common base is Lisa. Just very clear. Our common base is Lisa. I am very grateful to them that they decided to get married and have children. Correct. This is a very powerful thing that they did for me.

Lisa: I'm sure they had you in mind all along.

Gift: But they did it anyway. My life would be incredibly different if it weren't for the choices they made, but yes, we will never agree on a policy like this. Correct. Like Gabe Howard and the Kiner, they'll never sit down and act like we see things the same way because we don't. But is that really what we need to talk about when we need to discuss you? Oh my god, could you imagine how we could fix you if me and your parents got together?

Lisa: Oh yes, maybe I would finally go to graduate school

Gift: Perhaps

Lisa: Whatever.

Gift: It's my fault you didn't go you know

Lisa: You're still not over it, are you? Whatever. Yes, and he thinks I have a grudge. I have a feeling we're going to be sloppy here though, yes everyone has horrible people in their family but you could usually soak it up for a meal. And you and I are fortunate enough to have decent families overall.

Gift: We do, we do.

Lisa: But there are certainly a lot of people out there whose families are just completely toxic.

Gift: Let's talk about this for a moment. You're right our families are the same because they bug us, but we love them and we want to go for Christmas. We want to go to Thanksgiving. We want to show up on vacation. What if you don't want to? You know so many people that I talk to like, look, I just don't wanna go. I'd rather be alone on vacation than tolerate my family. But the pressure of the holidays is so great that I don't feel like I'm right. Lisa, what do you think about it?

Lisa: It's not that they don't feel they have that right, they feel they don't have that choice. I did not have an abusive childhood. Correct. So you meet people who had these horribly abusive childhoods and are still in touch with their families. They are still in contact with the perpetrator or their parents. And you think what's the problem here? Just cut these people off completely. Move around and never tell them where you are going. It was always very difficult for me to understand. Why are you still in contact with these people? Why are you even talking to this person? But I think that's just something I don't understand. I had a good relationship with my parents. For people who don't, it's just a lot more complicated. And the vast majority, at least those I know, don't end the relationship.

Gift: But is it okay?

Lisa: Well, apparently this is human nature. For some reason, people generally don't.

Gift: Yeah, I know people generally don't, but that's not the question I'm asking you. Think back to the beginning of the show. When I said, hey, listen, in March, April, May, June we're going to cut off our family with no problem. Because we understand that they are poisonous and we will avoid them like the plague. No problem. And how we thought we'd avoided the plague before there actually was a plague. And it turns out we don't avoid it at all. But frankly, is it okay not to see your family on vacation?

Lisa: It's fine, of course, but not necessarily realistic for many people.

Gift: No, no, it's not just stop, stop. It is realistic to do this in June. So is it realistic to do this in December when you make the decision that it is not in the best interests of my mental health? I will not do that. I make the decision for myself and my own care. Don't tell me it's hard I know it's difficult It is OK? Are you a good person If you don't see your family, who is hurting you and your sanity over the vacation? Is it a wise and good choice? And are you still a good person when you do?

Lisa: Are you actually arguing about it? Naturally. You're not really discussing this question, are you?

Gift: I think a lot of people are discussing this question.

Lisa: Well that's stupid.

Gift: I think there are people right now who believe that in order to be a good, ethical, and moral person, they have an obligation, an obligation, a moral and an ethical obligation to see their family on vacation. What do you say?

Lisa: No, absolutely not, you have absolutely no obligation to do anything for people who harm you.

Gift: Even if they are your parents?

Lisa: Especially if they're your parents. Although I feel that parents have this infinite obligation to their children, even to their adult children. No, you didn't choose your parents. You are not obligated to these persons. You can cut them off right away if they are not right for you. Go straight ahead. But you are asking me again whether this is morally right or morally acceptable. Of course it is. I don't think there is a debate about it, but I don't think it matters. It's not exactly practical.

Gift: I think it is very important because I think there are people who know that there are certain family members that they cannot see due to longstanding abuse or trauma. But they feel like they have to see them in order to be a good person. And you and I are

Lisa: Well.

Gift: Happy. Lisa, you know, our point of view is parents who are arrogant or who we disagree with or who we struggle with or who honestly just made us feel bad. However, our position is not an abuse. Our parents did not traumatically abuse us. There was no physical abuse, sexual abuse. But there are people we speak to that this is their reality. And all of our advice just completely discounted that. Oh, our parents talk about politics and religion and don't believe in mental illness during the holidays. What should we do to fix this? OK. This is a very important discussion that I think we beat to death. But what about the people who have seen trauma, sexual assault, and violence from their families or from a family member in their childhood or adult life? They argue whether or not to see these people and society is pushing them in that direction. Oh it's the holidays. Now is the time to forgive and forget. And I think this sends them the message that they can't say no and that they feel like they have to go on vacation with their abuser. And I use abusers specifically, not a family member you are fighting with, but abusers. And this news becomes so murky because even we do. Oh, call your mother. It's the holidays. But we never bothered to ask why they wouldn't call their mother. Speak directly to these people for a moment because they don't feel like they have a choice because well-intentioned people like us tell them, oh, just go and agree not to talk about it. But that's a whole other level.

Lisa: Yes, exactly, it's a whole other level, and that advice doesn't apply to that level. Many of these people do not disconnect from their families. I think this is just a blind spot that I have. I do not get it. It doesn't seem like a difficult choice to me. It doesn't seem that difficult. But apparently it is. And I just don't get it. So when you start talking about it, oh, is that really the moral choice? I don't think this is even remotely a debate. I don't think you need to think about it. The answer is obvious, but apparently that's partly because I'm just missing the whole picture.

Gift: Do you think it's fair to say that most of the advice floating around the podcast and blogging world and among well-intentioned friends and family members doesn't understand what happened. And most people don't ask. They just assume that you are fighting your mom because you wanted short hair and your mom was hoping you had long hair and now you're ruining Christmas over it. Do you think people have just this obvious misconception that there is a level of trauma and abuse that is absolutely unforgivable and the moral choice is to cut these people off?

Lisa: Well, I don't think you should put it under morality, it is perfectly moral to cut these people off and it is perfectly moral not to. It depends on you. The point is, you can choose. There is just so much social pressure to make a choice and that is the choice most people make. I do not get it. Again I think this is a very simple question. There is no need for a debate. But yes, if you are a runaway for example, you had a terribly abusive childhood that most people don't have, almost no advice is for you. All advice is general. All advice, all blogs, all Christmas specials, all sitcoms are based on this theoretical average. And if you're not within a few standard deviations of this average, yes. It just doesn't apply to you. You just have to go your own way.

Gift: Lisa, I think this is incredible advice, and I think it is advice that these shows are almost always absent since our show started. Hey, here's how to get along with your family and let the past be the past. They say that the general advice to forgive and forget does not apply to all situations. This may not apply to your situation. And if it doesn't apply to your situation, that's fine because you can decide for yourself.

Lisa: Yes, excellent summary, Gabe.

Gift: You know I'm not known for summaries.

Lisa: Okay, this is actually one of the funniest things you ever said. Yes, yes, that's right. You are not.

Gift: Lisa, when it comes to families, would you say they are just complicated? Well, it's okay to get advice or perspective from other people that ultimately the way we run our own families is just that. This is how we manage our own families.

Lisa: All the Christmas specials, all the films love it when the family that has always had problems getting together comes together, but that's because they don't get along, because they disagree on politics, or because they always have a hard time with this guy did clothes or something stupid.

Gift: It's always easy.

Lisa: Yes, it's always simple, because that's how pop culture works. It is not intended for people who have these ingrained problems and trauma, but we all act as it is. And that's just so incredibly unfair, as if it wasn't bad enough for you to take on this burden. I feel a little bit bad that we could add to this by saying things like, oh, just get on with your family, you can do it. It's just incredibly simple and not good advice for many people.

Gift: Sie sagen anscheinend, wenn Hallmark einen Film über das Leben bestimmter Menschen drehen würde, wäre das Happy End, dass sie weggingen und nie zurückblickten.

Lisa: Yes absolutely.

Gift: Ich weiß, dass Hallmark diesen Film niemals machen wird, aber

Lisa: Ja, das werden wir nicht sehen.

Gift: Aber wenn sie einen Film über das Leben bestimmter Menschen machen würden, würden sie sagen: Schau, du hast überwunden, du hast dich befreit, du bist weggegangen, du hast deinen eigenen Kurs gechartert, und du hast diese Menschen aus deinem Kopf gerissen und sie nie gesehen nochmal. Und das würde den leichten Schneefall und die Klaviermusik und das Verblassen zu Schwarz bringen. Anstelle dessen, was wir normalerweise sehen, sitzt eine Familie am Tisch, isst Weihnachtskekse und lacht.

Lisa: Richtig richtig,

Gift: Und das ist in Ordnung.

Lisa: Das ist 100% OK. Yes.

Gift: Ich möchte diesen Film jetzt irgendwie machen.

Lisa: Niemand wird diesen Film finanzieren

Gift: Yes.

Lisa: Weil es so einen traurigen Start haben muss. Niemand kümmert sich um das Happy End, wenn es einen wirklich traurigen Start gibt.

Gift: Was ist mit der Lebenszeit?

Lisa: Na ja, egal. Guter Punkt. Die Botschaft, die wir hier haben wollen, ist, dass das Leben kein Hallmark-Film ist, und manchmal passiert das süße Sitcom-Ende nicht wirklich. Und das ist nicht nur in Ordnung, sondern auch eine gute Sache.

Gift: Ja, ich denke, es ist wichtig zu verstehen, dass gut gemeinte und gut gemeinte Menschen Ihnen alle möglichen Ratschläge geben werden, basierend auf Dingen, die sie nicht durchgemacht haben, und basierend auf einem Leben, das sie nicht geführt haben. Und sie glauben fälschlicherweise, dass ihr Leben dein Leben widerspiegelt. In Wirklichkeit ist es durchaus möglich, dass die Dinge, die Sie mit Ihrer Familie durchgemacht haben, ehrlich gesagt einfach unverzeihlich sind und dass Sie sie nicht wollen, und dann ist es in Ordnung. Es ist auch gut möglich, dass das, was Sie durchgemacht haben, diesen Rat widerspiegelt, und es spiegelt Gabe und Lisa wider, und der DVD-Player ist kein Grund, Ihre Familie abzuschneiden. Es liegt an dir. Ich denke, was ich wirklich sage, Lisa, ist, dass nicht genug dieser Podcasts und Artikel und YouTube-Videos diesen Satz tatsächlich sagen. Wenn Sie Ihrer Familie vergeben möchten, finden Sie hier einige Möglichkeiten. Und wenn Sie Ihrer Familie nicht vergeben möchten, dann tun Sie es nicht. Planen Sie Ihren eigenen Kurs. Beide sind gleichermaßen moralisch, gleichermaßen ethisch und liegen ganz bei Ihnen. Und das Wichtigste ist, dass es Sie glücklich macht und dass Sie die Wahl haben. Gehen Sie vorwärts, tun Sie, was Sie wollen und haben Sie einen schönen Urlaub.

Lisa: Exzellenter Rat, Gabe.

Gift: Hey, vielen Dank und vielen Dank fürs Zuhören. Was auch immer Sie für den Rest des Jahres tun, ich hoffe, Sie machen es großartig. Und ich hoffe auch, dass Sie sich daran erinnern, dass Geisteskrankheit ein Arschloch ist, ein Buch, das ich geschrieben habe und das ein tolles Weihnachtsgeschenk ist. Sie können es natürlich auf Amazon.com bekommen, aber Sie können auch auf gabehoward.com gehen und es dort kaufen. Und ich werde es unterschreiben und ein paar Show-Beute wie Aufkleber hineinwerfen, und Lisa wird sie verpacken und verschicken.

Lisa: You're welcome.

Gift: Wo immer Sie diesen Podcast heruntergeladen haben, abonnieren, bewerten, bewerten und bewerten. Wenn Sie Ideen für zukünftige Shows haben, wenden Sie sich an show@PsychCentral.com.

Lisa: Und wir sehen uns nächsten Dienstag wieder hier.

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