I'm sharing lots of upbeat holiday stories here, and I'm doing so intentionally. There actually are a lot of ridiculously fun things going on here over the last week--at my parents' house, in my travels with Maybelle and Biffle--and I want to be consciously aware of them. I'm making an effort to pay attention to these hilarious, or pleasant, or comfortable moments.
I realize, though, that reading this series of posts, someone might be led to believe that my holiday break is nothing but delirious happiness. In fact, if I read these posts, I might well think, "Damn, am I the only person having a hard time over the holidays?"
So here's some of the back story: the holidays are rough for me. And I know they're rough for a lot of my friends, too. This is a time for some pretty painful anniversaries--my own anniversary of the seizure that led to the diagnosis of my brain tumor, a best friend's anniversary of her father's death. Right now one of my in-laws is experiencing a medical crisis significant enough that they're probably approaching this as their last Christmas together. That's pretty triggering to me. I'm so, so sad for their family, but I've also had to keep my distance because it's too easy for me to get caught up in the "that could be us!" whirlpool of thought.
I know from other close friends that the holidays are rough even if there's not a life-threatening event or a painful anniversary. One friend said, "My depression is lurking but not yet rearing. Tomorrow may not be so good." My mom shared that in many past holidays, she hasn't realized how anxious she was until her stomach started hurting physically--that this was a normative part of the holiday experience for her.
I've had some core ideas in place this holiday that I've been trying to keep in use:
- My self-care is my top priority.
- It's all experimental.
- It's okay to go with the flow.
- Pay attention to how I'm feeling.
- Keep expectations minimal: one or two goals a day.
- Pay attention to the moments of pleasure.