We can choose our attitudes, which will drive our actions. During this holiday season our attitudes can unify us and bring peace. This series of posts work on putting more “happy” in our “happy holidays.”
Happiness begins with what we CANNOT ATTEND During the Holiday
a Pity-Party for one...
Why can’t it be the way it was?
Why did I spend so many years cooking and shopping and wrapping gifts to end up alone on Christmas?
How could they have forgotten me?
Having spent 35 years as a parent, I have experienced a few SAD holidays. Some years the depression and sadness felt like a weighted blanket on my chest. My poor family endured the years when my sadness turned to anger…and those I loved fell in the wake of that storm.
Is depression real? Absolutely.
Is sorrow engulfing? You bet.
Can we make it through…I believe so.
Through lots of prayers, counseling, talking, and BEING REAL I have learned I can admit when:
I AM SAD.
I AM NOT DEALING WELL WITH THIS CHANGE IN MY LIFE.
Years ago when I opened up and told a friend, “I give up. I can’t do Christmas this year. I am sad and over my head with grief and now I need to fulfill the kids’ expectations. I just can’t do it.”
My sweet friend replied, “I thought you were trying to reduce the expectations you set for every one else? Why are are showing them they can keep setting unreal expectations from you?” She paused and added, “That isn’t very good parenting, is it?”
That little bit of sarcastic humor reminded me that I DID NOT have to pretend to be happy, but I was not ALLOWED to throw a pity-party either.
That year I learned three tips on surviving the holiday without lying about my emotional state or throwing a pity-party.
1. If someone asked “how are you?” in a manner that meant, “I am trying to be polite on my way to the buffet,” I simply said, “fine.” This was not lying because from his perspective I was just fine. (Not bleeding on the carpet or about to stab anyone = Just fine, thank you.) However, when a dear friend asked me, “Is it hard this year?” I honestly stated, “Harder than I thought it would be.” Then I HONESTLY finished with a statement like, “But the sun will come out tomorrow!” or “There are PLENTY of things for me to be happy about, though.”
2. When we are sad, just like in yoga, we have to”set our intention” every morning. During that dark holiday, before I got out of bed I set my mind to focus on some previous holiday that brought out a smile. I looked through scrapbooks and old Facebook posts to find a year with merry and bright memories and that was my “intention” for the day.
3. I prayed. This sounds like a no-brainer but at first this activity felt like an aerobic exercise wearing heavy army boots. In the beginning I was just as mad at or disappointed with God as I was anyone else. I dreaded pouring my heart out to Him since I knew He knew better than I did exactly how I felt. And then, one day it happened: instead of repelled by the idea to divulge all my sorrow and self-pity, the prayer felt like– breathing. I couldn’t stop myself and I realized I was not nearly as sorry as I had been only days before.
During this time, I saw a counselor who continually guided me back to a path where I left self-pity behind. Sure, some days were abominable and lonely, but together we devised ways for me to focus on the HAPPY of the holiday and the GOOD of good wishes.
We may not be able to cancel the pity-party on our own–but we can refuse to send out invitations to everyone we meet.
Then we find there are other parties, lots of other parties, that are more fun to throw and to attend.
Do you have ways of coping with sadness during the holidays? I would love for you share your suggestions below.