I envy people who grew up feeling connected to their families, who genuinely enjoy their company, and who actually love the holidays simply because it's one of the few times during the year that they can all be together.
I can't relate to that at all.
For me growing up, holidays were a heavily concentrated dose of dysfunction. Tensions were higher, bullshit was more pronounced, unhealthy patterns of coping were increased, and well...it sucked. These 'celebratory' days highlighted all that was already not working in our family; which I imagine is true of many people who were raised (or are currently in) families that struggle with alcoholism, drug addiction and/or other abuses.
I naturally grew to loathe externally imposed time with family and I also eventually began to sink into depressions around these times especially.
My holiday experiences, for the most part and for far too many years, were saturated with things and feelings I'd rather not remember and live through again, yet it all comes back to the surface whenever another holiday approaches. A looming dark cloud shows up and it's not because I'm ungrateful for what I have or how far I've come. I'm grateful for many things each day (it's a sin to practice gratitude only one day a year) and I have a deep appreciation for life because of the hell I've endured, but that does not automatically erase other truths and feelings.
Many truths coexist simultaneously. That is human nature, is it not?
For example, a mother might have lost her son, or a daughter could have lost her father, or a relationship with a loved one is in turmoil right now, or has ended without any closure despite only being a phone call, letter, or visit away - and let's say all of these people have since found some measure of peace and/or happiness despite their loss.
Well, regardless of that peace and happiness, or how long it has been since the death or relationship breakdown, there will always be dates, or seasons, or songs, or smells, or memories that will infuse their 'now' moment and transport them right back to where they once were. And that's ok. It doesn't mean that the peace that they've acquired is no longer. It means they are human, they are connected, they are deepening, and they care. It means they can't control the reminders of what once was. Nor can they ever forget it. None of us can.
We are always brought back to the places that need the most healing, the places that have affected us most deeply, and the places that have touched us like no other.
During my regular day to day I don't think much of my upbringing. I prefer to keep it in the past because my goal is to live in the now. All that happened before Paige was born was a chapter that brought me to where I am today (I am grateful for that gift) and I refer to it only when it relates to something I am going through in a particular moment. When that happens, I address it, heal something if it needs healing, and then I move on.
"Life is managed; not cured," as Dr. Phil says, and I figure if I just face what's in front of me when it shows up, I will be okay. You will be, too.
So this post is for anyone who cringes when they see holiday posts and can't stand "shiny happy people holding hands" during dark times. For those without families or without their dearest family members. For those who have been abandoned, forgotten about or mistreated. For those who can't cook a turkey to save their life. For those waiting for someone to bring over some leftovers (ME! ME! ME!), and for those who can't get out of bed, who can't stop crying, who just can't keep going on like this. I understand, and I'm sending you cyber hugs.
Wherever you are in this moment is exactly right and it is exactly where you need to be. You've come this far, my friend.
Let's go a little further.
Paige: I saw that my friend, *****, liked your Thanksgiving post.
Me: Do you ever read the posts that I write?
Paige: No, because I can't relate to what you grew up with.
Me: * self high five *
Of all things (apart from life itself), I am most grateful for Paige. She was my chance at a new life, which is exactly what we co-created.
Chapter 1: birth to 18
Chapter 2: Paige's birth to 18
Chapter 3: currently being written
“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.” Meister Eckhart
POST SCRIPT #2
I just wanted to say thank you to those who read and resonated with my Thanksgiving post yesterday. It was a cathartic experience for me to not only write it, but to discover that I was not alone in my holiday sadness. One day I'm in tears, and the next (today) it's like a regular day in Mandyland. What a gift.
I released something yesterday through your responses and our sharing, and I love that today didn't feel icky at all. I felt like my happy self - IN FALL - ON THANKSGIVING - and that is a triumph in my world.
There was not a moment of sadness today, and I danced through each moment even lighter than before because a weight had been lifted. I simply enjoyed my day like I always do, and nothing pulled me down.
So thank you for reading my heart when it was called to write, and for caring enough to respond. Sometimes all we need is for someone to care, to listen to or read our truth, to say, 'I feel that way, too', or to simply witness our lives in action and reflect it back to us. We are all human after all, and the need for love, understanding and validation is coded within each of us.
I'm so grateful for each of you.
DID THIS TOUCH YOUR HEART?
Please consider leaving a tip.
Read more here.