I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the elephant in my room – the deep, deep gnawing pain that creeps into my shoulders tightening them, the renewed migraines and the hole in my heart that can’t seem to be filled no matter how many times I sit in front of my fully decorated tree.
So many of you reached out after my Mother’s Day post and if that day was hard for you as it was for me, then the holiday season, all the way from Thanksgiving to the end of Christmas Day, is an even deeper wound. I think for me the pain comes when in one breath I think about the holidays coming and the candles, the tree, the cookies, the fireplace, the stockings and then in the next breath the feeling that the cozy Christmas rug has been pulled out from under me. I have no family.
To clarify, I do have family. I do not have people that have been in my life since I was a newborn that see who I am, get joy from my joy, spend time sitting and listening to my thoughts and feelings, and can be present with my life. That’s what I want. That’s what Christmas cannot give me. And I end up feeling hollow when the cookies are not sweet enough and the tree is not bright enough to comfort me. I try every damn year to fill up. I watch White Christmas at least five times in the month of December, I plan a million holiday treats and activities for my amazing children and I have Michael Buble on repeat in the background. I try so hard. There’s a feeling of optimism followed by devastating sadness.
Each year is different. And if you know holiday pain, you know that it doesn’t get easier year by year. It doesn’t get easier saying “But look at my beautiful family,” or “Things could be worse,” or “I have so much to be grateful for.” People who say this have no idea what real, family pain is. The quiet that comes when the kids head off to school.
The question is always, do I try to be around family this year? Will it be different? Can I come through unscathed and still represent myself? Is it worth it? It is December 13th and as I write this my shoulders kill with stress and the migraines have started all over again. There’s no escaping the decision of whether I try because maybe that will be less painful than not trying. Is being with family and the complicated, searingly hot painful undertones and stern faces worth not being with my family? Is it worth it for the sake of “Christmas.” Because as much as those movies and commercials tell me, things don’t get solved with one day of togetherness. Forgiveness is easy. Forgetting is not. New memories are created, more pain piled on. Ouch. OUCH!
I grieve at the holidays. As much as I want to be in the moment and I try and try and try, there is a reality that I cannot put aside because it comes from a place of real lack of attachment to a loving, empathetic family. It is a burden I carry for Mother’s Day, birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. The times when we should be wrapped in goodwill and love. I can’t help but think of all the people out there that will insist I need to just “let it go.” Then I think of all the people that are in the same boat as me. We are two different worlds that will never collide.
If you are feeling that red-hot Christmas loneliness. I feel it too. And I wish Santa could hug that away. But, if he can’t then I invite you to wrap yourself in a cozy blanket near that beautifully decorated tree and do some self care. Give yourself what you were not given by stopping and listening to your own needs and being present with care and a non- judgmental attitude. We will survive this holiday season like we’ve survived all the ones in the past. I wish all you beautiful, war-torn souls in my boat heavenly peace.