I have something to admit. I’ve not been especially holiday happy for the past few years. I find myself dreading the holiday season and I didn’t used to be that way. I once welcomed holidays, decorated, watched holiday movies—all that stuff that families do during the holiday season.
I’m not going to go into a maudlin account of why my holiday mojo faded into obscurity. For those of you who followed me through that bleak period of my life, you know—I got a few whammies during one holiday season—hurricane, displacement, death of a loved one, moving, relocating—all those top stressors that have your mind on edge and your flight/fight acute stress response in high gear. I feel it still sometimes and from what I’ve read, it can take a while for you and your mind to settle down.
Psychologists in the 1920s discovered that humans, like animals, have the same kind of wiring. If we sense upheaval or fear, physiological and psychological responses occur and there we are, waiting on the precipice of fighting it out or running away. It’s an uncomfortable state of being. It’s a stuck feeling. A teetering, limbo, stuck in the middle with you but not-you feeling.
It can be triggered randomly after the initial stressor(s) has occurred by an incident, a smell, a song, anything, even something mundane can bring it all back and you’re in that not-you place. Memory flashes bring raw, fresh pain to the surface and a big old panic or anxiety attack can literally knock you off your feet. Make you feel foggy, weird, tired, despondent and leave you wondering if you’ll ever feel “right” again. If you’ll ever be you again.
And then, something happens. A break. A glimmer of hope. You begin to take deeper breaths and instead of fighting to catch your breath, you’re breathing into it—into your soul, into your heart, into your life and into all the love in it.
So, IS it a Wonderful Life and This Doesn’t Sound Very Holiday-ish. . .
I was talking to my sister last week and we were discussing these past few years, how we felt. She said, “I’m tired of being unhappy about this. I want to move on. I want to feel good about the holidays, happy. I’m going to.” It takes fortitude to do so. It takes letting go and in the letting go, you feel a guilt about that. As if you’re taking something away from the loss by doing so, by moving on and being happy.
But you’re not. Moving on and living the best life you can live is the only option. The other not-you, teetering limbo anxious state isn’t it. It’s what I imagine purgatory is, if there is such a thing and seriously, why would there be? My happy place is filled with ice-cold water, wine, chocolate, great food, great books, good movies, bicycles, dogs and my peeps. There’s a unicorn that trots by every once in a while too and I can eat as much as I want and not have to exercise, yet be phenomenally healthy.
And to All, a Good Everything
I don’t exactly know what has sparked my glimmer, what is happening that is making me begin to feel like me again. But, I’m holding on tight to it with a surety that it is within me to create the life I want and to feel good, sure and strong about that fact again.
Maybe it’s from talking to people I love. Maybe it’s the text I get from a friend who checks in with a “You good?” pretty regularly.
The simple goodness of being enormously grateful for all that I have here, now, right in front of me is leading me away from the teetering precipice and bringing me back to my serene spot. Maybe there really are Christmas miracles. I guess it’s all how you look at things.
Here’s to the holidays and please know that if you’re in that other place of not feeling like you, there’s light. You’ll get there in your own good time—honor that—and you’ll find your way back to you. The holiday season can bring joy and sorrow so we might as well talk about and acknowledge both of those states of being human. We’re all in this together.
The guy in the red suit says, “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.” I say to everyone who celebrates Christmas or the holidays (or not), to all that rejoice in peace, love and kindness to all human kind— “To all a Good Everything.” There’s a permanent impermanence to life and even that can make us aware of how wonderful it is, how gracious we can be and how important it is to treat one another with kindness and respect.
That seems to be a good place to start.
Have a joy-filled holiday season.
Are you in the holiday spirit this year? Are you like the Griswolds when you decorate? What’s your favorite holiday movie or song? Describe your happy place.