It’s a provocative headline for sure, what I mean by “family shit receptacle,” is that often, within toxic families, there’s that one child, that one sibling that receives all of the family’s disdain and disrespect. They are spoken to like they are irrelevant. Treated like they are the lowest form of life and they are never made to feel welcome or that anyone is happy to see them.

Comments they make may be treated with eye rolls, snide remarks, mockery or they may notice side glances between the other family members. As If they are the butt of some inside joke. They may experience criticism, being insulted, talked down to or ignored.

The shit receptacle often wonders what they have done to be on the receiving end of this kind of treatment. As the saying goes, they will often cross oceans for family members who wouldn’t cross a puddle for them. They are generally over givers and over doers and continuously try to gain acceptance from the family, but try as they might, this acceptance never comes.

As the holidays draw near, many of us will find ourselves gathered with these types of family members. If you haven’t grown out of people pleasing, you may just be walking into another round of emotional left hooks. You can spend all of your money on gifts, slave over the oven making baked goods, and be your kind loving self, but the song remains the same. You’re still the family shit receptacle no matter what you do.

Understand What’s Really Going On

The late Wayne Dyer once asked, “When you squeeze an orange, orange juice comes out. When you squeeze you, what comes out of you?”

You cannot get love from people who do not know how to love. You cannot get kindness from people who are unkind. You cannot get respect from the disrespectful. When you squeeze your family members – what comes out? The answer is probably misery, resentment, anger, jealousy, bitterness…..You cannot get sweet, delicious orange juice from a rotten grapefruit. So, stop being the receptacle for their fermented soul.

I have a family member who I refer to as a cross between Sheldon Cooper (from the Big Bang Theory) and Ebeneezer Scrooge. During Covid he had a milestone birthday. He was very paranoid during the pandemic and only ventured out of his home for essentials. I felt bad that he would be celebrating his birthday all alone, so I messaged my other brother and said, “Let’s send him a bouquet of flowers.” I asked that brother if he knew his mailing address. He said he didn’t. Since his birthday was in December I thought I’d be cleaver and ask him for it, under the guise of sending him a Christmas card. His response to me was that he had sent me a Christmas card and I could get it from that when it came in the mail. I replied, “Just give it to me.” He ignored me every time I asked for it. So, his miserable behavior just cost him a lovely floral display.

He later informed us that he wouldn’t be spending Christmas with us because of Covid and I had already purchased him gifts – a cashmere scarf with matching face mask. Monogramed hand towels for his powder room and a memorial Christmas tree ornament for his deceased partner. This was Christmas 2019. I left the gifts with my other brother since he didn’t show and a few weeks ago, in 2022, I sent him an email asking if he had ever received those gifts. The response I got – silence, crickets, tumbleweed.  I accept that no response is a response. Although a well adjusted person would have said something like – “I did, I was meaning to thank you.” Or, “No I haven’t yet, but that was nice of you.”

It would never cross his mind to do something nice for anyone. This is why I’m sure the whole flower/address thing never occurred to him. He’s paranoid and would never buy anyone else a gift, so I’m sure his first thought was, “She must want something.” Even though I have never, in my entire life, ever asked anything of him. So, there I was squeezing a rotten grapefruit and hoping for orange juice.

This brother is twelve years older than I am. I was 17 when my father died and he became the father figure in my life. I went from having a father who thought I was the center of the universe, to one who, by all accounts, completely loathes me. From as early as I can remember, his reoccurring phrase to me was, “You’re lucky (the abortion doctor) wasn’t around when you were conceived.” Meaning nobody wanted you. You were a mistake. We would have gotten rid of you if we could have.  Imagine saying that over and over again to a little girl.

Throughout the years I have called him on his poor treatment and he has done what most abusers do. He blames me, says I’m too sensitive, or that I’m living in the past.

You are not being too sensitive, when you refuse to be mistreated. You are not living in the past when you call out their present behavior. I communicated with this brother only 3 times this year. A thank you text when he text me “Happy Birthday.” A Happy Birthday text on his birthday and the email I sent him asking if he ever received the Christmas gifts, I’d bought for him 3 Years ago.

I removed him from the front row of my life, because he doesn’t deserve to be there. Nor do I want any part of his energy. He’s at the very back row of my life’s theater. I am at extremely Low Contact with him and that’s how it will remain. I cannot give enough to earn his love. I cannot jump through enough hoops to get him to change his behavior. All I can do is accept him for who he is and adjust my behavior accordingly.

Create Your Life The Way You Want It

The great thing about friends is that they are the family you choose.  Many people won’t be spending the holidays with their biological families this year. Choosing instead to spend it with friends, partners or even go it alone. There is never a valid reason to tolerate mistreatment, or share your energy with people who can barely tolerate your existence.

The mistake a lot of people make when choosing to opt out of family gatherings is that they don’t create a better life, with better people. They instead continue to wallow in the fact that they are alone and unwelcome by their family. When you create a life full of love, likeminded friends, respect and happiness, you will never miss your old one.

This year choose peace, choose your mental health, choose you and stop trying to get orange juice from rotten grapefruits.


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