Shit. Shit. Shit. It is that time of year in which I relive the feelings of fear and anxiety that for me, have defined special and family occasions. It was beyond painful not getting to believe in God or Santa or the Easter bunny, not having fun or meaningful traditions with my mother and family. An utterly faithless existence, really nothing to count on but shame and guilt for being too tense, too skinny, too hungry, too needy, too clumsy, too brown, and angry about being unable to change or deny it all. And then— to still be all those shitty ways on special days in which you are supposed to be and feel all precious and secure and amazing, well that was just a fucken crusher too. So, there is that haunting trauma that I face each year from October through January…that deep longing and awful knowing that if I had been good enough or worthy, my birthdays and holidays might have been different…like the ones that people who are loved and lovable have. right? But guess what recovery teaches me. My mother’s inability to love me is a reflection of her and of course it affected me mentally and emotionally and shaped how I would be in the world—I will grieve that, but no longer take responsibility for it. As I have said, one of my more pronounced failures was that I was not a gracious and mellow abuse getter. My natural reaction was to become an infernal hurricane — a firestorm.
And, I never learned how to decorate a home for life or holidays and so this is also a source of stress and shame because these things that people do with ease, grace, joy— are not natural or easy for me. Being told always that I should or did not want or feel as I did made it impossible to discover the gifts and preferences of ME. I remember a sweet benevolent girl in elementary school named Mary Kiser. In fifth grade, when we signed up for middle school electives, she signed up for clarinet. So, I also signed up for clarinet. I had zero interest and was totally overwhelmed at a sensory level by the experience of playing it (poorly) and being surrounded by others playing band instruments. I wanted badly to make the choices that good people made. I remember in kindergarten a kind girl who had a horse named Buttons…so when I got my cat, I named her Buttons. The attempts to copy the good people just never worked out. I was still me no matter which instrument I played or what I named my precious pets. I was a person who could not cope with my home life and ultimately myself. And I was blamed for it all from an early age.
Holidays and birthdays require decorating and hosting for the sake of my sons and so I do it, but not without historical and hysterical tension and anxiety. While I arrange the event and food of their choosings with their favorite people, I still cast my shadow of sadness. So, even though they feel loved and heard and welcome, they also sense my struggle and despair. And that hurts. Today and yesterday, we decorated for Christmas, which is hard AF for me. I lack experience, spatial abilities and natural style…and that sucks to admit. While the front of OUR home is coming along better than any, previously, I was white knuckled, edgy and un-merry-ish. I nearly hated it. For someone with intense sensory issues and holiday trauma, touching garland and stuffing the lights into the shrubs and bushes was a lil hellish, but I am pleased to have pulled off a pretty cohesive look that my older son can feel good about when his 9 friends come to our new home for the first time next week for his birthday with all his favorite food and people, which I have agreed to co-host with his father. Seriously I will do anything within my means for them. If I could heal myself more quickly, I surely would.
If you are fortunate enough to have come into the world comfortable in your own skin, to a loving childhood & family experience and possess fond holiday and birthday memories, please consider yourself blessed. Because I did not experience my family or holidays in a way that I would wish on my children, I am breaking that cycle- starting better practices and traditions. I think this began by doing love and connection on all the undesignated special days in between the holidays. Having mandated appearances and performances of love and cohesion really did not work out all that well for me. Having 362 scary days/year kind of guarantees the other three will follow suit–only with higher expectations. I do wish a happy holiday to all. To my FOO I wish you farewell. Lately, the Kesha song and Pearl Jam’s Still Alive have been my theme songs. Having an online community and music that tells my story is the best medicine, plus my real life recovery buddies and my bestie and Sweet Greg who don’t share this path with me nor do they abandon me or insist that my old path was my choosing. As an adult and mother, I get to deviate to a more expansive, nurturing, and spiritual path for my sons and myself, in which we spend our special days with all the people who fill our lives and ordinary days with kindness. It is totally that time of year. And it is ok to not feel amazing. It feels impossible to feel good when someone is demanding it of you, something very conflicting about that dynamic. “Be happy goddammit or you suck.” Oh. ok.Much Love,
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