But is it really? Let's be clear I enjoy the holidays. I especially like Thanksgiving because it's all about being appreciative and grateful for our families, friends, homes, and food. We actually have one day each year set aside to stop and really think about how blessed we are. And there is FABULOUS stuff to eat!
But, but. The holidays bring out a lot of other feelings besides gratitude. A lot of those other feelings are the result of societal expectations, but others are experiential. The commercials tells us to feel one way, but our memories remind us of past holidays and how we felt let down.
I'm attempting to write something with depth and meaning and the reality is I'm depressed. Not as depressed as I was a few days ago, but I know it will be a see-saw from now until after the new year. Because it's hard not to feel bummed when my holidays won't look like the TV commercials, and I'll be reminded of family dissension. Reminded of family I don't interact with (by my own choosing and for my own good), but I miss the idea of a family filled holiday.
I have this little voice in my head that reminds me over and over again that it's all my fault that I don't have a TV family. It's all my fault that I'm not over the top happy for 2 straight months of the year. It's all my fault that I'm tired and headachy, and would rather sleep and watch TV than decorate my house, bake cookies, and shop. So I wind up feeling like the Grinch. And I'm not the Grinch. I'm a basically happy, upbeat person. Yes, parts of the holidays are difficult because they aren't the way I want them to be. But I have family and friends that I share the holidays with -- I am not alone. I have more stuff than I will ever be able to appreciate, let alone use.
I sat in my therapist's office on Tuesday and felt relief wash over me as tears squeezed from my eyes. She reminded me that PTSD from childhood abuse is one of the most difficult diagnoses to deal with, because these traumatic events happened during my formative years. In my case throughout my formative years. The negative patterns are imprinted on me. It's not that I am unwilling to let go of the past, but rather that it is imprinted on my brain. So, yes, it's going to crop up. There are going to be triggers. Getting over it doesn't mean it didn't happen. Just like getting over the flu doesn't mean you don't remember how sick you felt when you had it.
I read a quote this morning --
“If you believe you deserve nurturing only when you’re extremely upset, you’re like the majority of survivors who feel they have to be totally falling apart before they slow down and take care of themselves. But taking care of yourself should not be confined to times of crisis. Nurturing and taking care of your needs should become a daily habit, not something special to be pulled out in an emergency.” The Courage to Heal Workbook by Laura Davis
and it reminded me to take care of me. So that's what I'm doing. I drinking lots of water, paying attention to what I eat (but not too much!), resting when I'm tired, getting some exercise, doing yoga, seeing the chiropractor, talking with my therapist, and planning some fun things just for me.
When I dream about the episodes of abuse, it is as if I am reliving them. The key is to remind myself when I awaken that I didn't cause the dreams to come anymore than I caused the abuse to happen. I'm learning to see the return of the dreams as my subconscious telling me to slow down and take care of me. It's not my fault, but I can do some things to help myself.
With those ideas in my head (and in writing) I can enjoy lots of things and people and food this holiday season, hopefully release some those expectations, and just be in the moments to come.
linking up with Just Write