family gatherings

when a seder is overloading

thelimpingdoctor replied to your post: Passover asks?

How do you deal with sensory overload in a situation where you can’t leave?

realsocialskills said:

Based on context, I think you’re probably asking about being overloaded at a large noisy seder.

There might be more options for leaving and taking a break than you might realize. I’m going to discuss those, then some thoughts on how to deal with it if leaving isn’t an option. 

Some options for taking breaks:

Helping in the kitchen

  • At seders, there are often (not always) things going on in the kitchen that people would welcome help with
  • If you find doing stuff in the kitchen less overloading than being at the table, excusing yourself to go help might be a socially acceptable way to take a break
  • Some examples of things people might welcome help with:
  • Cutting vegetables
  • Serving soup
  • Bringing out other things 
  • Washing dishes

Playing with the kids:

  • At a lot of seders, there are little kids who kind of run in and out
  • If these are kids you know, or they’re related to you, it may be socially acceptable for you to take breaks and play with the kids
  • This depends on the culture of your family or community; it’s fairly common for it to be socially acceptable, but it’s not universal

Pretending you have to go to the bathroom:

  • At a long seder, most people will excuse themselves to use the bathroom at least once
  • If you take a break for about that amount of time, that’s what people will assume you were doing
  • (You can also actually go to the bathroom even if you don’t need to use it - bathrooms can sometimes be a good place to take a break from sensory overload since people will usually leave you alone for a few minutes if you’re in the bathroom)

Options if you can’t take breaks or taking breaks doesn’t help enough:

Get oriented:

  • Sometimes sensory overload is caused as much by disorientation as by sensations
  • One way to become more oriented is to think through in advance what’s likely to happen
  • If you feel like stuff is more predictable, it’s likely to be less overwhelming and sensory stuff might be easier to manage
  • If this is a seder you’ve been to before, it might help think about what usually happens. Who will be there? How do they usually act? Who will ask the four questions?
  • It also might be a good idea to look through the hagaddah. Here’s one online.
  • If you’re feeling overloaded during the seder, it’s worth considering the possibility that you have become disoriented
  • If you look through the haggadah, figure out where you are in the seder, and how much is left, it might help you to become more oriented and less overloaded
  • It may also help to use a visual schedule, which shows you at a glance what to expect and in what order. Here’s one you can print, organized by cup.

Using solid objects to ground yourself:

  • If you’ve become really overloaded or disoriented, sometimes grabbing hold of something solid can help a lot
  • If you’re at a seder, the most readily available solid thing is likely to be the table
  • If there’s someone present you trust who is ok with it, holding someone’s hand can help a lot too in ramping down overload

Sit in a less overloading place in the room:

  • Sitting on the edge of the room is likely to be less overloading than sitting in the middle
  • Sitting on the end or near the end of a table is likely to be less overloading than sitting between several people
  • Sitting near the door is likely to be less overloading (especially if you get overloaded from feeling trapped)
  • If there are florescent lights in the room, it helps to pay attention to whether one of them is flickering
  • If you’re already overwhelmed going into the room, you might not notice right away, even though it will bother you later. If flickering lights bother you, it’s worth making a point of checking to see if the light is flickering when you decide where to sit
  • If the room is likely to be very loud, you might be more comfortable if you use ear plugs. You can get disposable ones for cheap at a pharmacy

Stimming:

  • Some people can stop overload by moving in certain ways
  • Most people can at least mitigate it a little
  • Rocking back and forth can help a lot (and it’s not that weird in a lot of Jewish settings, particularly if there are a lot of religious people present.)
  • If you have stim toys that usually work for you, it might be a good idea to bring them
  • If you’re worried about stigma, it might work better to use different things
  • (That said, if a room is crowded and noisy and overloading, it’s very likely that no one is actually looking at you)
  • If you wear rings or bracelets, you can play with them
  • You can also play with the silverware if the seder isn’t extremely formal. You probably won’t be the only one.
  • You can also stim with the haggadah. (by holding it in your hands, flipping the pages, looking through it, or even reading it.)
  • If you have a water bottle with a stem you can chew the stem
  • (You can also eat stuff as a way of getting to chew to reduce overload. If you do that with stuff like celery rather than stuff like chicken it’s less likely to make you uncomfortably full)
  • You might be able to bring seder-themed stim toys to use, particularly if you bring enough to share. (For instance, if you bring out plastic frogs for the ten plagues, probably no one will think twice about you continuing to play with them)

Participating actively also might help to handle overload:

  • Sometimes it can be less overloading to participate in something than to be passively present while something is happening
  • This isn’t true for everyone, but it’s true for a lot of people
  • For instance, if people are singing loud songs and it’s overloading, you might be more physically comfortable if you sing the songs too
  • (This doesn’t work for everyone, but it works for some people)
  • If it’s a big seder and people are going on and on and you’re overloaded, ignoring what’s going on and reading the haggadah might work. (In that setting, you’re probably not going to be the only one doing that.)
  • Asking questions and arguing might be less overloading than being in the room while other people are doing that

Talking to people might also be an option:

tl;dr Passover seders can be really overloading. Scroll up for some ideas about how to deal with that.

deflecting fight-pickers at christmas

Anonymous said to :

My mother sometimes likes to pick fights at family gatherings, especially meals. She brings up controversial political opinions/things she knows many of us are uncomfortable with (she is fairly ableist, homophobic etc). I will be staying with my parents for Christmas. Do you have any advice on how to deal with this? I have tried just saying ‘I don’t want to argue about this now.’ or leaving the table when I got too uncomfortable but was called rude for doing so.


realsocialskills said:


It might be ok if people call you rude. Sometimes there’s no way to effectively assert boundaries without anyone objecting. Sometimes there’s no way to insist that people stop saying mean things without being somewhat rude. Sometimes putting up with being called rude is more tolerable than putting up with obnoxious and offensive conversation. I don’t know if that’s the kind of situation you’re in, but the possibility is worth considering. 


I don’t know who said it first, but I think the most important principle is: You don’t have to attend every argument that you are invited to. The fact that your mother insists on saying offensive things and trying to pick fights doesn’t mean that you have to argue with her about them. You get to decide what you do and don’t want to talk about.


(Especially given that it’s an established rule of polite behavior that at this kind of gathering, one should not talk about controversial topics that are liable to result in unpleasant arguing. But that would be true even if you were not at the kind of gathering where that’s a rule - you don’t have to argue with people who say offensive things unless you want to.)


That said, you might get better results from changing the subject than from leaving or saying that you don’t want to talk about a given topic. (Or you might not. It really depends on your family.)


Changing the subject can be better because:

  • If you just say you don’t want to talk about the controversial thing, it can give a new hook for arguing.
  • Then it can turn into an argument about why you’re too PC to listen to the ~obviously-true~ bigoted opinions 
  • Or how you’re rude, or censoring, or ~causing tension~ (the tension is already there; caused by the people who insist on picking fights about offensive things. It’s not your fault. But it will sometimes be convenient to blame you.)
  • If you introduce a new topic immediately, there’s something to talk about that isn’t a fight
  • That can sometimes make the path of least resistance talking about the new thing rather than fighting about the old thing

Changing the subject to something your mother consistently wants to talk about that isn’t offensive:

  • Your mother: These people I’m arbitrarily bigoted against are terrible! My tax dollars shouldn’t be going for this. Why can’t people be decent like they used to be?
  • You: How are things at work? How are things going with your new client?

Changing the subject to something that other people present want to talk about:

  • Your mother: These people I’m arbitrarily bigoted against are terrible! My tax dollars shouldn’t be paying for this. Why can’t people be decent like they used to be?
  • You: Hey, did anyone see the sportsball game last night? How amazing was the ball thrown by that sportsball player on the team that half of you root for and the rest of you hate?

Changing the subject to something a particular person present is likely to want to talk about:

  • This can work well because it shifts the center of attention to someone else, and most people like attention
  • If you’re aggressively paying attention to someone who is interested in talking about something non-offensive, it’s much harder for someone to interject with something offensive, or to call you rude

Eg:


  • Mom: People I’m arbitrarily bigoted against are ruining everything. My tax dollars shouldn’t be paying for that! People used to be decent. 
  • You: David, how are you liking the exciting new thing you just purchased? I’m thinking about upgrading mine, do you think now is a good time?


Sometimes it works better if you explicitly say that you don’t want to talk about the thing while you change the subject:

  • Your mother: These people I’m arbitrarily bigoted against are terrible! My tax dollars shouldn’t be paying for this. Why can’t people be decent like they used to be?
  • You: Mom, let’s not talk about politics. It’s Christmas. Your tree is absolutely gorgeous, where did you find those new ornaments?

tl;dr Some people like to pick fights by saying offensive things. You don’t have to argue with them if you don’t want to. One way of deflecting the fight is to change the subject. (That doesn’t always work.) Scroll up for more details and scripts.

Coming out at Christmas?

anonymous asked:
I’m planning to come out at christmas before dinner. How do I do it without it becoming awkward or making the holiday all about me? Also I’m very bad with spoken communication when I’m put on the spot or nervous so I don’t know how to deal with the string of Straight People Questions I might get.
 

realsocialskills said:

I’m not sure what kind of situation you’re in. I’m assuming that you’re gay or lesbian, that you’re probably not out to any family members, that you don’t currently live with family, and that you’re talking about a big family gathering. Some of this might not apply if I’m getting some of that wrong.

Coming out will probably be at least somewhat awkward, no matter how well it goes and no matter how you do it. Coming out to people who aren’t expecting it is inherently awkward. If you’re not sure whether or not they will react positively, it’s especially awkward. Akwardness isn’t something you are likely to be able to completely avoid. That’s not your fault. It’s a problem with our culture. 

That said, making an annoucement at a family gathering is one of the most awkward and risky ways to come out. If you make an annoucement, then you become the center of attention in a group of people whose reactions it might be hard to gauge. Also, at big family gatherings, it’s fairly likely that people will be drinking, and alchohol can greatly magnify bad reactions. For most people, coming out by making an annoucement on a holiday is a very bad idea.

There are other options that might go better:

Coming out casually in conversations with relatives who you think are likely to react well. This allows you to talk like you’re already out, rather than making an annoucement:

  • If you’ve been closested from family for a long time, you’ve probably been using linguistic tricks (like avoiding pronouns) to avoid outing yourself
  • One way to casually come out is to stop doing this, and see what happens
  • Some people will react badly, others will ask questions, others will treat it as no big deal
  • When this works, it’s the least awkward way to come out

eg:

  • Aunt Jane: Sarah, are you seeing anyone these days?
  • Sarah: No, I don’t have a girlfriend right now.

or:

  • Aunt Jane: Bill, are you still seeing Susan?
  • Bill: No, we broke up. I’m with Jason these days.

This doesn’t always work, but it can work really well.

Another option: Coming out via email ahead of time:

  • If you want to let everyone know that you’re gay without having to have a lot of awkward conversations, email has several advantages
  • If you send an email, you don’t have to be the center of everyone’s attention all at once
  • People see it when they see it, and react individually if they want to react
  • Relatives who might have a knee jerk negative reaction will have time to process. Some of them might be less inclined to be mean and more inclined to put family relationships ahead of homophobia if they have time to processes.
  • Once the actual Christmas gathering arrives, your coming out will be somewhat old news
  • If anyone has a really horrendous reaction, you will know ahead of time and will be able to take that into account when making your Christmas plans.

Consider coming out to a family member who you trust first:

  • It will be a lot easier and more comfortable if you know that someone is on your side
  • The most reliable way to be sure of this is to come out to someone you trust ahead of time
  • In particular, if you have a gay relative, it’s worth telling them that you’re gay too and asking for perspective on how to handle things.
  • But even if you don’t. If you’re relatively sure that one of your relatives will treat you well when you come out, it’s worth coming out to them first so that you won’t be alone at the gathering.

If you think you need to come out in person by making an annoucement rather than some other way, consider doing it closer to the end of the gathering.

  • If you make an annoucement early in the gathering and it goes badly, then you still have the rest of the gathering to get through
  • If you come out later in the event, the stakes are lower
  • (Eg: after dinner is likely better than before dinner)

If you can, have somewhere to go: 

  • If you’re staying with family at a big family gathering, that can get really overwhelming really quickly
  • Especially if they’re homophobic
  • Especially if things get awkward after you come out
  • If you have friends who live nearby, it could be a really good idea to make plans to spend time with them. (Or, to have that as a backup plan for if things go badly).
  • If you don’t, spending time with friends online is likely to be important. So, if you can, make sure you have reliable access to an internet-connected device while you’re at the gathering.

tl;dr Coming out is likely to be awkward no matter how you do it. This is not your fault. Coming out by making an annoucement at a family holiday gathering is probably a bad idea. Coming out more casually or emailing ahead of time might be a better idea. It helps if you identify supportive people ahead of time.

 

Anyone else want to weigh in? What ways of coming out to family members have worked well for you? Which ways have worked poorly?

 

 

 

Conversations at family gatherings

slightmayhem:

realsocialskills:

 said to :

What are appropriate topics of conversation for family gatherings during holidays? I’ve heard that you’re not supposed to talk about politics or religion, but what can you talk about?

realsocialskills said:

That depends somewhat on your family. “No politics and religion” is a rule that applies in some families but not others. The real rule is “Don’t pick fights, and steer clear of topics likely to result in people getting angry in ways that are likely to damage relationships.”

Or, to put it in more concrete terms: At a family gathering, it’s considered rude to tell someone that they’re going to hell, or that their political views are destroying the world. It’s considered rude to say something that implies that you think someone is going to hell or destroying the world, even if you don’t say so outright. It’s considered polite to be careful to avoid topics that are likely to go in that direction.

For many families, this means avoiding the topics of politics and religion altogether at extended family gatherings. When family members have strongly held conflicting views on politics and religion, talking about those topics can easily lead to fights. For some families, it makes sense to call a truce for the holidays and just get together and eat food and do things that everyone likes. 

Fighting on Christmas/Thanksgiving/other holidays isn’t likely to change anyone’s religious or political views - it just makes the holiday unpleasant. It’s ok to call a truce and fight those battles the rest of the year, when it isn’t a holiday. 

Politics and religion aren’t sources of conflict for every family. Some families have largely compatible views, and are able to discuss these things without it turning into a fight. You’re the best judge of how that works in your family.

If you’re in a family in which politics and religion are topics best avoided, there are some other popular topics:

Sports:

  • I don’t really understand the appeal of sports
  • But sports fandom is really, really popular
  • Most families contain a lot of people who like to root for sports teams
  • And family gatherings often involve watching sports games of some sort
  • If you like a team or a sport, talking about sports is probably likely to go well

Television shows and movies:

  • TV shows are a popular topic of conversation
  • Particularly currently-running popular shows
  • If you find a show that others in your family watch, or a movie they’ve also seen, you can probably discuss that show
  • (If your family gathering contains a lot of people who have a religious objection to watching R-rated movies, focus on shows/movies that aren’t sexually explicit or graphically violent)

Work:

  • People often talk about work at family gatherings, for instance:
  • Projects you’re working on at work
  • Funny or awesome things coworkers did
  • Funny or awesome things customers did

Possessions:

  • People often like to talk about stuff they have, or stuff they acquired recently
  • eg: your new iPad, an apartment you moved to, a new brand of rubber bands you discovered that are particularly good at holding bags closed, really soft shirts you just bought
  • (Be careful about this if you have a lot more money than some members of your family who will be present), bragging about wealth is considered rude

Vacations or other stuff you did:

  • Families often talk about vacations they went on, or plan to go on
  • Or some other thing they did recently, for example:
  • People who ran a marathon will probably talk about that
  • People who planted a big garden at the school they work at will probably talk about that
  • (Again, be careful about talking about expensive things if you have a lot more money than many of your family members)

The weather:

  • Talking about the weather is a cliche because people really do talk about the weather a lot as a way of making conversation
  • Eg: 
  • “Do you think it’s going to snow?”
  • “It’s so hot.”
  • “I like the way the rain sounds on the roof.”
  • “It’s so much warmer here in Florida than it is in New York.”
  • “I’m glad Grandma finally installed insulated windows.”

tl;dr Talking about politics and religion with people who don’t share your views can end poorly. Family gatherings often contain people who have equal and opposite convictions. In many families, people call a truce for the holidays and avoid those topics. Some other topics to discuss: sports, TV/movies, work, activities you’re involved in, vacations, the weather, and stuff you have and like. (Be careful about discussing expensive things that many of your relatives can’t afford.)

slightmayhem said:

It’s also nice and takes up a lot of time to ask people about their relatives who aren’t present. people generally like to talk about their personal families. (so, how is your wife? how old is your son now- what grade is he in? is he still in a band?) When you’re not sure what to ask, you can ask people questions about themselves, and just let them talk a while. (be prepared, they will often ask a similar question back at you)

Conversations at family gatherings

arrowhearts said to realsocialskills:

What are appropriate topics of conversation for family gatherings during holidays? I’ve heard that you’re not supposed to talk about politics or religion, but what can you talk about?

realsocialskills said:

That depends somewhat on your family. “No politics and religion” is a rule that applies in some families but not others. The real rule is “Don’t pick fights, and steer clear of topics likely to result in people getting angry in ways that are likely to damage relationships.“

Or, to put it in more concrete terms: At a family gathering, it’s considered rude to tell someone that they’re going to hell, or that their political views are destroying the world. It’s considered rude to say something that implies that you think someone is going to hell or destroying the world, even if you don’t say so outright. It’s considered polite to be careful to avoid topics that are likely to go in that direction.

For many families, this means avoiding the topics of politics and religion altogether at extended family gatherings. When family members have strongly held conflicting views on politics and religion, talking about those topics can easily lead to fights. For some families, it makes sense to call a truce for the holidays and just get together and eat food and do things that everyone likes. 

Fighting on Christmas/Thanksgiving/other holidays isn’t likely to change anyone’s religious or political views - it just makes the holiday unpleasant. It’s ok to call a truce and fight those battles the rest of the year, when it isn’t a holiday. 

Politics and religion aren’t sources of conflict for every family. Some families have largely compatible views, and are able to discuss these things without it turning into a fight. You’re the best judge of how that works in your family.

If you’re in a family in which politics and religion are topics best avoided, there are some other popular topics:

Sports:

  • I don’t really understand the appeal of sports
  • But sports fandom is really, really popular
  • Most families contain a lot of people who like to root for sports teams
  • And family gatherings often involve watching sports games of some sort
  • If you like a team or a sport, talking about sports is probably likely to go well

Television shows and movies:

  • TV shows are a popular topic of conversation
  • Particularly currently-running popular shows
  • If you find a show that others in your family watch, or a movie they’ve also seen, you can probably discuss that show
  • (If your family gathering contains a lot of people who have a religious objection to watching R-rated movies, focus on shows/movies that aren’t sexually explicit or graphically violent)

Work:

  • People often talk about work at family gatherings, for instance:
  • Projects you’re working on at work
  • Funny or awesome things coworkers did
  • Funny or awesome things customers did

Possessions:

  • People often like to talk about stuff they have, or stuff they acquired recently
  • eg: your new iPad, an apartment you moved to, a new brand of rubber bands you discovered that are particularly good at holding bags closed, really soft shirts you just bought
  • (Be careful about this if you have a lot more money than some members of your family who will be present), bragging about wealth is considered rude

Vacations or other stuff you did:

  • Families often talk about vacations they went on, or plan to go on
  • Or some other thing they did recently, for example:
  • People who ran a marathon will probably talk about that
  • People who planted a big garden at the school they work at will probably talk about that
  • (Again, be careful about talking about expensive things if you have a lot more money than many of your family members)

The weather:

  • Talking about the weather is a cliche because people really do talk about the weather a lot as a way of making conversation
  • Eg: 
  • “Do you think it’s going to snow?”
  • “It’s so hot.“
  • “I like the way the rain sounds on the roof.”
  • “It’s so much warmer here in Florida than it is in New York.“
  • “I’m glad Grandma finally installed insulated windows.”

tl;dr Talking about politics and religion with people who don’t share your views can end poorly. Family gatherings often contain people who have equal and opposite convictions. In many families, people call a truce for the holidays and avoid those topics. Some other topics to discuss: sports, TV/movies, work, activities you’re involved in, vacations, the weather, and stuff you have and like. (Be careful about discussing expensive things that many of your relatives can’t afford.)

Coming out at Christmas?

hobbiten:

realsocialskills:

I’m planning to come out at christmas before dinner. How do I do it without it becoming awkward or making the holiday all about me? Also I’m very bad with spoken communication when I’m put on the spot or nervous so I don’t know how to deal with the string of Straight People Questions I might get.

realsocialskills said:

I’m not sure what kind of situation you’re in. I’m assuming that you’re gay or lesbian, that you’re probably not out to any family members, that you don’t currently live with family, and that you’re talking about a big family gathering. Some of this might not apply if I’m getting some of that wrong.

Coming out will probably be at least somewhat awkward, no matter how well it goes and no matter how you do it. Coming out to people who aren’t expecting it is inherently awkward. If you’re not sure whether or not they will react positively, it’s especially awkward. Akwardness isn’t something you are likely to be able to completely avoid. That’s not your fault. It’s a problem with our culture. 

That said, making an annoucement at a family gathering is one of the most awkward and risky ways to come out. If you make an annoucement, then you become the center of attention in a group of people whose reactions it might be hard to gauge. Also, at big family gatherings, it’s fairly likely that people will be drinking, and alchohol can greatly magnify bad reactions. For most people, coming out by making an annoucement on a holiday is a very bad idea.

There are other options that might go better:

Coming out casually in conversations with relatives who you think are likely to react well. This allows you to talk like you’re already out, rather than making an annoucement:

  • If you’ve been closested from family for a long time, you’ve probably been using linguistic tricks (like avoiding pronouns) to avoid outing yourself
  • One way to casually come out is to stop doing this, and see what happens
  • Some people will react badly, others will ask questions, others will treat it as no big deal
  • When this works, it’s the least awkward way to come out

eg:

  • Aunt Jane: Sarah, are you seeing anyone these days?
  • Sarah: No, I don’t have a girlfriend right now.

or:

  • Aunt Jane: Bill, are you still seeing Susan?
  • Bill: No, we broke up. I’m with Jason these days.

This doesn’t always work, but it can work really well.

Another option: Coming out via email ahead of time:

  • If you want to let everyone know that you’re gay without having to have a lot of awkward conversations, email has several advantages
  • If you send an email, you don’t have to be the center of everyone’s attention all at once
  • People see it when they see it, and react individually if they want to react
  • Relatives who might have a knee jerk negative reaction will have time to process. Some of them might be less inclined to be mean and more inclined to put family relationships ahead of homophobia if they have time to processes.
  • Once the actual Christmas gathering arrives, your coming out will be somewhat old news
  • If anyone has a really horrendous reaction, you will know ahead of time and will be able to take that into account when making your Christmas plans.

Consider coming out to a family member who you trust first:

  • It will be a lot easier and more comfortable if you know that someone is on your side
  • The most reliable way to be sure of this is to come out to someone you trust ahead of time
  • In particular, if you have a gay relative, it’s worth telling them that you’re gay too and asking for perspective on how to handle things.
  • But even if you don’t. If you’re relatively sure that one of your relatives will treat you well when you come out, it’s worth coming out to them first so that you won’t be alone at the gathering.

If you think you need to come out in person by making an annoucement rather than some other way, consider doing it closer to the end of the gathering.

  • If you make an annoucement early in the gathering and it goes badly, then you still have the rest of the gathering to get through
  • If you come out later in the event, the stakes are lower
  • (Eg: after dinner is likely better than before dinner)

If you can, have somewhere to go: 

  • If you’re staying with family at a big family gathering, that can get really overwhelming really quickly
  • Especially if they’re homophobic
  • Especially if things get awkward after you come out
  • If you have friends who live nearby, it could be a really good idea to make plans to spend time with them. (Or, to have that as a backup plan for if things go badly).
  • If you don’t, spending time with friends online is likely to be important. So, if you can, make sure you have reliable access to an internet-connected device while you’re at the gathering.

tl;dr Coming out is likely to be awkward no matter how you do it. This is not your fault. Coming out by making an annoucement at a family holiday gathering is probably a bad idea. Coming out more casually or emailing ahead of time might be a better idea. It helps if you identify supportive people ahead of time.

Anyone else want to weigh in? What ways of coming out to family members have worked well for you? Which ways have worked poorly?

hobbiten said:

I came out to (most of) my family via a letter a couple of years ago.

I had been out to my parents, brother and a couple of others (2 cousins and one uncle) before, but wanted to come out to the rest of them as well.

So I wrote letters to everyone / every “small family”. (I.e. one to my grandparents, one to my other grandma, one to the one aunt and her family, one to the other aunt and her family…)

The letters all had a lot of stuff in common, and then some personal things to the people addressed at the end, so they knew that it was also about them and my relationship with them.

I didn’t jump right in with the coming out, but prefaced with some general “so the holidays are coming up and this is what I’ve been up to” stuff, then the coming out, then the personal stuff to the addressees and a bit more about my plans for the next weeks, just general things that I would have told them over the phone as well if we had had a casual conversation.

It went really well. I was so nervous about sending them, but I only got neutral and positive reactions. Some of them called, some emailed me, others didn’t react directly, but came up to me during the holiday celebrations, gave me a big hug and a “we love you”.

I think, as realsocialskills pointed out, coming out via a letter or email ahead of time can give everyone some time to process. I think most people can then react more calmly. Some people might feel put on the spot if you announce it in a big way during the holidays and react badly because they feel put under pressure. I think if I had come out during the celebrations, a lot of them would not have known what to say and there would have been at least a long awkward silence, as well as having the rest of the evening be slightly awkward.

It also helped me to talk about this with my friends before I did it. That way they knew what was up and would check in with me. If things had gone badly, I would have been able to call any of my friends who knew and tell them. Having someone know things might go bad and you might need some support over the telephone or email or chat is a good thing, because then they can make sure to be reachable on the occasion.