Living Through the Holidays

Living through the holidays with anxiety feels familiar to me. I escape to a bedroom or a bathroom sometime midday and practice some deep breathing or mindfulness. Sometimes I go for a walk. It feels legitimately overwhelming at times, but I can survive.

Living through the holidays with anxiety and depression seems a bit harder.

The weeks leading up to Christmas Day didn’t contain the normal amount of cheer. I tried to play the part, of course. I wore my Christmas Hat. I dressed up in red and green for weeks on end. I wore a Christmas tree necklace and snowflake earrings.

I looked happy and in the spirit on the outside. Inside, I felt anything but.

I did somehow force myself to attend some of the get togethers I planned with friends. I also balked at a few of them and canceled plans at the last minute. I hate looking flaky, but sometimes the demons win. “They don’t really want to spend time with me. They don’t really care about me. No one really wants me around anyway.”

When I did manage to attend, I mostly enjoyed myself. It’s hard to stop those thoughts once they start running though, and I’d find myself near panic attack in the middle of some friendly party. I don’t know how I talked myself down off those ledges, but I mostly managed to hold things together until I got home.

Home is a different story. I spent a lot of time sleeping in and sleeping during the day and going to bed early or sometimes entirely too late or staring at the ceiling thanks to insomnia during this month. I cried. A lot. I didn’t do a lot around the house. I waited entirely too long to purchase gifts. I didn’t read a single book. Sometimes when I would practice good self-care, like coloring or meditation or yoga, I would still lose myself to the inner voice that whispers, “You’ll never be good enough. Why do you bother? They’re better off without you.”

Things felt marginally better after my daughter’s birthday, but not resolved or easy. I went to therapy later that week. My therapist reminded me that I do possess coping skills, that I know how to use them, that I can do this. Which, guess what? Made me feel like more of a failure. I have support. I have the skills. I know what to do and how to do it. And I’m still just stuck.

One day, I felt very overwhelmed with everything. I didn’t get anything into an Advent Activity envelope. When I told the boys we wouldn’t be doing anything that evening, LittleBrother told me he felt disappointed and upset. While I recognize the fact that he told me such a thing as an indicator of the way we’ve provided a safe space for feelings and emotions, man, I felt like absolute crap. Letting my kids down, one missed Advent Activity at a time.

Christmas Eve felt okay, until we sang “Silent Night” at service. I made it through the song last year. Not this year. I choked up more than once. I miss my grandparents keenly on Christmas Eve and Day.

Christmas Day, however, felt mostly okay. Mainly because we stayed at home and cocooned up with our people. I rested when I needed to rest. I cuddled with dogs. I played games with the boys. I managed to eat good food.

But here we are. We finished our last Christmas event of the year today. And I’m still left feeling like I’m never going to be good enough as a mother, a wife, a daughter, a friend, anything. More than anything, I wish for 2017 to bring back the sense of peace I worked to hard to attain and lost once again. Always.

Living Through the Holidays


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What Works Best for Us at Christmas

What Works Best for Us at Christmas

I want to tell you all about our Christmas experience, but tomorrow we have another family get together. By the time we finish all of our Christmas-ing, January will feel well on its way. That’s how it is, I suppose.

Right now, our main focus falls on letting our sons enjoy their Christmas Day at home. No rushing through present opening. No making them get dressed before two o’clock in the afternoon. No splitting the day between various households. No four hours in the car. They wake up at o’dark o’clock, open presents, and spend the rest of the day eating delicious foods while playing with said presents.

It’s wonderful.

And it’s awful.

I love taking the slow approach to Christmas. I really appreciate telling the boys that I’m not even starting to make my labor-intensive Christmas Waffles until 9:30, and then, when I nearly catch the waffle iron on fire, there’s no big rush to get everything finished so we can get out the door. I like snacking sometime midday. In bed. I enjoy multiple mimosas. I really like staying in my super-cute Christmas Pajamas until four o’clock, at which point I put on leggings and a top.

But I miss our family members.

We’ve invited them to spend the day with us for the past three Christmases, thus being the ones we’ve decided to stay home and let the boys do their thing. No one has taken us up on the offer. We’ve extended the invite to all people who may be hosted by those other individuals as well, as we want everyone to be cared for and fed on such a holiday. Last year, Gramps and Mamaw came over for our Christmas meal and we dearly appreciated their presence.

My mother once told me she didn’t get to host Christmas Day until she was well into her 40s. I’m 35, going on 36, and so far, no go. I predict when the boys are a little bit older and their Christmas presents all travel with them, we can start traveling on Christmas Day again. But when LittleBrother wants nothing more than to start building his 10 bag LEGO fire station set on Christmas Day, I feel like staying home remains the appropriate choice for now.

I’m so excited to spend the day with my family tomorrow (or, as it’s past midnight because insomnia, today). I can’t wait to watch our nephews open their presents, to spend time with my parents, to joke with my brother and sister-in-law, to create memories with extended family members. All of that may not happen on Christmas Day, but it still happens. I’m okay with that.

In fact, it’s what works best for us right now.

Merry Christmas.

What Works Best for Us at Christmas