photo of green leafed plants

[This blog contains Explicit language]
The Holidays, why do they hurt? And what can we do about it?

If you already don’t understand the topic of this article, (1) you are one of the lucky ones, and (2) if you’d like to read more, please do so with the intent to learn what a lot of us experience around the holidays. 

The holidays fucking hurt for so many painful reasons. Maybe you lost a family member this year to death, to addiction, to divorce, to severed ties. Grief doesn’t only show up with the ultimate elimination of a loved one. 

Maybe you moved far away from your family and can’t make it home for the holidays. Maybe you’re really lonely and isolated. Maybe you’ve been blessed with a new connection(s) where you are now, which is somewhat lessening the loneliness and the questioning of your choice to be where you are. 

Maybe you’re in less control. Maybe you’re in the military or your loved one is, and you are separated from each other. 

Maybe you’re experiencing depression and wondering how the hell others are cheerful AF and you’re deeply struggling. You’re wondering if there’s something irreparable or fucked about you. (There isn’t. Depression is bitch and does not discriminate.)  

Maybe you are overwhelmed with a shit ton of stress and anxiety. And of course you are! Not only do you fear your in-laws’ opinions of you this year (or godforbid your own family’s opinion), you’re just trying to be grateful that you didn’t have an underlying health concern that would have made surviving COVID less likely. You’re not sure you have hope in the future of the world anymore. You’re not sure what to believe from news sources anymore. You’re trying to not believe the filters and fake faces you see on Instagram but can’t help but feel inherently flawed. And what about the belly fat you gained from less movement over the pandy wandy and the lockdowns and working from home (but yay for employment)? You’re trying to be all My-Body-is-Not-an-Apology (#sonyareneetaylor) about it, but fuck it’s hard. Shame. We’re talking about the drowning experience of Shame. 

low-angle photo of lightened candles

Maybe it’s another painful reason or a combination of the listed possibilities. Oh, the self-compassion and peace of mind I wish I could just heap onto you. 

What can we do? Three things. 

One, I want you to cry and comfort yourself as much as possible (without the “aid” of alcohol or marijuana or any other drug). I need you to remember that emotions are not dangerous; it’s how we express them or deal with them that can be. Emotions are temporary, energy, and information. They let us know what’s up. Happy? Cool, something good is happening to/for you. Sad? A loss happened, something that mattered to you. Scared/fearful? Great, check in with yourself with curiosity of what your emotion is trying to communicate with you. Then choose one thing to do that could offer yourself care and comfort. 

Two, I want you to lower your expectations. This holiday season will be different. Maybe this year you don’t celebrate and instead get take out and watch a marathon of comedies under your weighted blanket. Maybe this year you go to your in-laws’ for three hours instead of 6 hours. Maybe you protect yourself a little more this year. Maybe you set boundaries and communicate with your family that comments on your body are not welcome this year. But with this, we both know that your choices and boundaries will not prevent others from responding and sharing how they feel about your decisions, which brings us to three. 

Three, fuck, people don’t like what you’ve done or not done or not done enough of or done but not like they’d like or wanted you to. Wow, the expectations of others are endless, no? What a fucking mess. But what if we allowed others’ responses and feelings to your choices–get this–be entirely own their deal. You don’t need to take care of or please everyone else. You have one person to take care of (unless you have children) and that person is you. 

If that sounds “selfish,” I’ll let you know when I’m accepting new clients again. Because it’s not. You’ve been conditioned to care about everyone else and leave yourself in the background. 

What I’m suggesting is the true meaning of self-care. You’ve got to preserve yourself. This is loving you. You deserve to do what is best for you, and you decide what is best for you. 

May this holiday season not be quite as fucked or as painful as you’re anticipating. 

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