I am 45 years old. I have spent my whole working life avoiding the family business like the plague – right up until six months ago. What started as a few hours a week has gone up to a minimum of 20. I have had a lot of emotional stuff to work out over the last few months. It’s a long, angsty and sometimes boring story, so I shall limit this post to my tips for emotional survival:

Point 1: Don’t let things get to me. I am not the same person I was 20, 30 or 40 years ago, and by extension neither are my siblings or parents. Sometimes people pull a certain face, or say things in a certain way, just because they have always done it that way. It does not mean I am a waste of space.

Which leads to point 2: I’m intelligent, educated and have excellent people skills. I need to keep mixing with people who freely acknowledge my abilities if I am going to stay sane, and this means keeping non-family jobs going as well.

Point 3: If something needs doing focus on the task. Generally ignore personality clashes and just keep talking in a voice of sweet reason. Remind myself frequently of point 2 (above). At the same time, take several deep and calming breaths before meeting up with non-family colleagues so I don’t end up throwing myself into their arms sobbing with relief.

Point 4: Don’t be afraid to tell a family member that they’re being a dickhead and you’re fed up with their behaviour. Sometimes a chain needs to be yanked.

Point 5: Aloe vera gel tastes lousy, but a shot of that every morning has turned out to be a great help in calming my regular ‘sick to the stomach with tension’ feelings.

Point 6: Keep reminding myself of why I’m doing this. There are several reasons, with the primary one being to support my sister, and it still feels valid even when she’s pulling faces.

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