Why Do I Not Enjoy the Holidays?
What is it that makes it so hard to enjoy the holiday spirit? People are smiling and getting ready for family and friends. And I just want to crawl into bed and wake up when it’s all over.
Or do I?
At this time of year many of us struggle with feelings of loneliness, depression, even despair.
Or, should we just call it “The Blues”?
Why do The Blues show up during the holidays? How does our story affect our ability to enjoy them? And how much do we allow our story to interfere?
Personally, I feel the pull, the draft from the rabbit hole, to let go of the effort to celebrate and, instead, to fall into The Blues.
My childhood was filled with depressing and tense holidays, nothing to celebrate, just the imperative to be “seen, not heard”.
After I left home, I didn’t celebrate Christmas for more than 15 years. I made sure I stayed drunk during that time and didn’t have to feel the pain from the memories.
Then, I had children. Good reasons to celebrate…right?
December 1, 1990 was the day my husband and I turned off the life support for our two-month-old baby girl, Kristina.
One more reason to pull the covers over my head and stay in bed.
We had two more girls. More reasons to celebrate, right?
However, the fear of losing them dampened my ability to feel joy and lingered over me like the fog rolling in over the San Francisco Bay Bridge.
I used to sit on Baker Beach with my two wonderful girls, 2 and 3 at the time, and look at the bridge as the fog rolled in. I remember it as if it were right now as I’m writing.
The paralyzing feeling in my body, pressure in my chest, the closing of my throat, the bite in my jaws. I would look at my girls without being able to engage, just staring at them and feeling so lost, scared, and inadequate.
Every year between October and January, I would fall into the rabbit hole and be heavy, depressed, and unavailable for the girls.
I cried to my sponsor, “I don’t want to be depressed again; I want to be there for my girls. I don’t want to feel like this.”
Her answer threw me for a loop. “Then don’t!”
As if I had a choice! I was so insulted.
How could she be so unkind, so mean, with such lack of compassion for me…poor me, who was working so hard just to survive the day. I couldn’t help myself…right?
I was a prisoner in my own head, a victim of an emotional and mental strait jacket.
I was told, regardless of my “issues” with the holidays, my children deserved happy memories.
And that was true!
We as parents must not dump our issues on our kids.
But we do…until we don’t!
I had a choice: I could stay on Baker Beach and complain about the cold and the fog.
Or, I could put some effort into packing it all up, getting into traffic, driving across the bridge, and on the other side…enjoying the sun. Because, there is a sun. Regardless of the weather, there will always be a sun!
And I can find it. If I am willing to do what it takes!
That sponsor shifted my belief system, shifted my victim mentality, shifted the way I saw future possibilities. She was my first wake-up call to a life without blame. To a life that includes hope!
Hope, that oxygen that gets you out of bed in the morning.
So, do I really want to crawl into bed until it’s all over? Not really.
I have a lingering sensation in my body, a fog, a combination of sensations that sends the message of pain, a body memory of pain, of “bad weather”.
If I don’t watch it, this cluster of physical sensations will rise, pick up speed, and travel via my spine to reach my brain stem, my reptilian brain, the one that acts without thinking.
Alerted, the reptilian brain starts moving, motivated by reactive instincts, looking for danger, and sends the message of “danger” and “pain” to my “fight/flight” station, the “amygdala.”
My amygdala processes the message in a nanosecond and signals to my “emotional brain” that there is pain.
The emotional brain, with its bias and own interpretation (based on my story), sends the message to my frontal lobe, the so-called “executive frontal lobe”, the “thinker”.
Dependent on my self-awareness at the time, the thinker will interpret the emotional message, look for a thought that fits, and off I go!
“Oh, it’s that time of the year,” “It’s going to be hard again,” and my brain can flood me with memories that fit the emotions and sensations that have traveled up and are now securely embedded in my brain. Within the time it takes to blink my eyes, I’m thinking: “It’s going to be a hard day. Everybody is happy but me. I am depressed!”
But am I really?
Or, is this just a familiar “state of mind and body” that I can shift away from? If I want to!
Here is the real issue: Do I want to stay here, in this comfortable emotional gutter, warm and fuzzy, and familiar like an old blanket?
Or, am I willing to exert a little effort, and get out of it, get across the bridge?
And by choice, find the sun and have a good day. Because it is…a choice!
When I hear my brain say, “I’m depressed,” I can answer with, “I have a thought that says, ‘I am depressed.’ However, that’s not me! It is only a thought!”
And that is the secret to my ability to feel joy! The question is: Do I really want to?
Or, do I really want to pull the covers over me? No, I don’t!
I want to live! Feel alive. I want to feel joy, regardless of the time of year.
Today, I will have a good day…by choice.
If you are interested in learning more about getting unstuck from life-limiting habits or my BEAM LiFE program, connect with me on my website at: www.evaangvert.com or email me at: Eva@BeamLifeCoaching.com.