It’s that Emotional Time of the Year: The Holidays!

It’s that emotional time of the year–it’s the holidays!  For some people, the stress of doing it all, and doing it perfectly creates a stressed out ball of nerves. You know what I’m talking about!  If it’s not you, you know someone like this.  I’m sure that’s not how they want to be creating lasting stressed-out memories of the holidays, but guess what–that’s what’s happening!  When you learn to significantly simplify your holiday process and greet the holiday season with the intention of peace and harmony, you can bypass a lot of that unneeded stress in your life.

The holidays can also be emotional for some people because of memories of loved ones who have passed away.  I’ve seen a lot of posts on Facebook recently of keeping the memories alive of their loved ones.  Recently at my children’s school, a football player lost his life due to a severe head injury during a game.  This family will celebrate their first Christmas without their son.  Countless families this holiday season who have lost their loved ones, are learning how to cycle through the year’s significant days (really every day is significant), one day at a time.  It gets easier over time, but you never forget.

For me, having lost my mother who was pregnant and lost the baby as well when I was seven years old; my brother when he was 25 on the day of his unborn first child’s baby shower; and my beloved grandfather that same year–these deaths can bring up so much during the holidays.  Memories flood in and remind me of times past.  It’s not only the loss of death that I have grieved–it’s the loss of time with my children as I process what divorce is.  It’s the loss of my ex’s family members who used to, before my divorce, be a big part of my life.  It’s the loss of some members of my family of origin as they’ve cut me off from their lives.  It’s the loss of connection in the past with our children who have been tainted from another parent’s poisonous perspective on either me, my new husband, or both of us.  There’s a lot of loss during the holidays that seems needless to me.  Relationships are sacred to me and yet I’ve felt betrayed by so many of the people closest to me.  If I were to focus on this part of my life, I’d feel overwhelmed.  I’d feel sorry for myself.  I’d feel angry and resentful.  BUT…I don’t need nor do I want a pity party.  By the way–you aren’t invited to that pity party.  I’m having the time of my life over on another path of my journey.  You’re definitely invited to that one!

The holidays can feel overwhelming if your tendency in life is to look at it through a victim’s lenses.

I am not a victim.  I consciously and continually make the choice to remember I am 100% responsible for my thoughts, words, and actions.  And so are you.  You are not powerless.  You are not a victim.  In fact, you are beautiful, you are enough, and you are loved.

You can see your circumstances as the glass being half full or being half empty.  That is your choice.  It is your responsibility to pull your life together.  Or not.

I’m not willing to be treated disrespectfully by people–especially by my family members and sweep that behavior under the rug as I did in the past.  I miss the connections I had with my family members.  In the past when I played the cyclical role of “black sheep” with my twin in my family of origin, I used to think something was wrong with me–why don’t they love me?  Am I not enough?  What’s wrong with me?  What exactly did I do wrong?  (Now I know it isn’t about me).  When it was my turn to be the “good” one, I would excuse their behavior instead of addressing it.  I didn’t want to lose their love on the off chance that if I spoke up for myself, that they would cut me off again.  Loss was too much to bear. Their connections mean a lot to me–but their actions show me that a connection with me is not as important.  Should I spend time sweeping it under the rug so I can be accepted and “loved” or should I move forward in my life and cultivate loving relationships with people who are willing to show up and be there in my life?  (This does not include my own children.  The poison of Parental Alienation is too much to deal with when you’re a teen whose brain is still forming.  This is where unconditional love is all-so-important).

This decade of my life–the forties–has been all about growth (thank you for the opportunity to heal via loss and divorce).  I realized that people will treat me the way I treat myself.  Internally I used to beat myself up and I allowed others to do that as well.  I didn’t have all-that-great self-esteem.  I’ve learned the art of not only assertiveness, but also of healthy and respectful communication and boundaries.  I’ve learned what my needs are so I can communicate them to others in a way that honors both them and me (love, love, love Marshall Rosenberg’s book “Nonviolent Communication”).  Healing in this way has provided me with the gift of peace, and of love–something that is intangible especially around the holiday season!  And, this growth allows me the opportunity to share my story with others.

I’ve learned to love myself.  That’s the key to any loving and healthy relationship–you must love yourself first.

The holidays are all about joy and happiness (actually, so is life!).  Unfortunately, if you’ve been touched by the death of a loved one(s), been in conflict with someone, you’re divorced, or you’ve experienced a challenge–you’re probably experiencing the ups and downs of an emotional time of year.  It’s a time when family and friends are supposed to be “merry and bright.”  What if you feel like a rug was pulled out from under you and you don’t feel much like celebrating?  Okay, well, feeling emotions is a very healthy way to process your grief.  However, we aren’t meant to hang onto these emotions.  It’s okay to feel them.  If you feel them deeply like I do, I really honor your ability to feel so deeply.  You have a lot of room in your heart and mind for pain–which means you also have a lot of room for love and joy.   Your loved ones would want you to be happy and to enjoy life.  For me, I focus on the good in my life.  I have a wonderful in-law family who loves me unconditionally.  I have four beautiful, intelligent, creative–yeah, you get the picture :)–children whose world is their oyster.  I have a husband who is my soul mate and I consider myself damn lucky to have him in my life.  I have my personal growth and spiritual growth.  I’m in a program in graduate school that I love–Marriage and Family Therapy.  I can help others now get through what I’ve gone through.  And, maybe my future clients will be teaching me some things about life!  That’d be awesome!

There are so many things to be thankful for this holiday season.  Choose to focus on those things that enhance your life, not detract from it.

Holidays are a time for remembering, but they’re also a time for creating new memories.  How will you create your best holiday season yet?

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