The Holidays. Talk about pouring gasoline on the loneliness of one’s soul. Not only does the expectation of one to participate in the madness of the season grow, but the expectation of how one is to feel about it really explodes into full-blooming doom. I keep saying “one”, but I sure as heck am talking about myself.
As I ponder … frantically, about how to not meltdown emotionally and psychologically about how my children will grow into adults who never felt the comfort and nostalgia of, and in, having a “Family Holiday Tradition,” I wonder-- underneath the boiling panic, am I truly ruining my children’s lives by not forcing us to participate in family gatherings?
Am I truly ruining their lives and relationships with extended family by not forcing them to exchange pleasantries with people who don’t know them, or really even want to know what is going on in their lives? When I say that, I don’t mean to disparage anyone.
I mean that the typical family gathering is about restraint and skimming the surface of life. Is this something that is for the “Greater Good”? Am I missing something? This is a real question. Can I say any of this without fear of judgment and ridicule from others and myself? Do I overthink things? Yes. Is what I am saying true? Yes.
Welcome to my personal Holiday Season hell.
I think that my inability to come to terms with shallow relationships makes for a poor “Goer to Gatherings.” Let’s not even get into the sensory overload and clashing of sensory needs in my little family and extended family. Holy Christmas Balls.
You know how when you’ve gone to great lengths to unmask as much as you are able, putting the mask back on is like going to prison for something you didn’t do. Am I exaggerating? Slightly, but still. I think part of the trouble for me lies in the immense amount of time I have forced myself into a box that doesn’t fit all of me, and parts start to show and spill over the edge at times when I can feel the people around me cringing and wishing I’d just smile more and tell them I’m fine.
Again, I could be wrong, but the quickness with which I watch people change the subject or walk away while I am floundering in the funneling of my inward emotional and mental panic into words makes me think that something is up. Am I too much of what they weren’t wanting and not enough of what they were wanting? Am I spiraling? Yes. Should I have stayed home? Probably. Was my physical presence meaningful at this gathering? Questionable.
So, let’s say we stay home. We retreat to our usual spaces after an attempt at watching a movie together for 20 minutes. I am assaulted by an avalanche of thoughts of failure and loneliness. It is November 8th as I write this. This is me trying to “Cope Ahead,” trying to fix, to avoid, to make something good out of expectations that make me feel bad.
You are really reading my thought processes concerning extended family relationships and dynamics as they interplay with cultural expectations for this coming season. This is what an emotionally flooded brain is like. It’s like pouring water on a grease fire.
You know what sounds beautiful to me? You know what makes me cry because it would be so gracious and the best thing I can think of? Just taking each of my children on a separate date to look at Christmas lights … to just drive and talk or listen to their favorite songs.
That’s special, right?
That could be something precious they could hold onto? Those quiet and holy moments of being at peace together. If I could think of a gift I would want to receive, it would be similar. I mean, if I am honest, which I am uncomfortably so, it would feel scary and weird and so very intimate and potentially healing if my heart and mind were tended to in such fashion by a family member.
I don’t know that we will be able to opt out of attending family gatherings throughout the holiday season where “everyone” tells you you’re fine and your kids are fine and EVERYTHING is fine — when they wouldn’t know fine if it bit them in the jingle bells… and because you are who and how you are, you know they are lying.
Listen, my people are filled up with paradise and with doom. We are #extra. We will never be fine.
Thank you for joining me on this “Processing the Holidays Before They Even Officially Begin” 2018 Edition. Good luck out there.