I remember the year clearly. How many times did I dissolve into angry tears? It was Christmas Eve morning. My parents were due at the house in just hours to enjoy our traditional family gift giving. How many times did I primally wail in complete overwhelming despair in my car in some parking lot that day? I wasn’t even close to having the shopping done, the house cleaned, and the food prepared. How many times did I completely melt down even after I was back at home, frantically trying to get things wrapped up by myself?
I’ll admit, there was swearing. Angry swearing. Desperate swearing. The swearing that comes from a person who is on the verge of a mental break and knows it. It’s not one of my prouder moments in time. My children bore witness to it as did my parents since they arrived before I was finished. My then husband probably did, too. Honestly, I don’t remember whether he was even in the room or not.
And that’s it. That is the entirety of my memory of that Christmas. I know we moved forwars with our day and evening. We opened presents, and I’m sure there were smiles and laughter and gratitude. But I don’t remember any of it. I only remember the insane degree of despair and overwhelming weight I felt.
Of course, there were plenty of extenuating circumstances. We all have them. There were countless smaller incidents that occurred prior to this day that led me to where I was – ready to check out and let my family do whatever they were going to do while I curled into the fetal position in my dark room. And, if you’re reading this and you’ve found yourself nodding your head in recognition, then you have your circumstances and incidents that have or are leading you into that dark place, too.
So, dear sister, as someone who has been there just a few short years ago and has found the other side this year, learn to rest. Remember that the world will continue to turn if there aren’t lights on the house this year. That your children aren’t going to bed hungry because you didn’t bake six different varieties of Christmas cookies. That your gifts are just as appreciated whether they are ornately wrapped and decorated or stuffed into a years old gift bag with last year’s crinkled up tissue placed on top.
Don’t quit, girl. Just learn to rest. Listen to the voice that says, “I can’t do this.” She’s telling you that you need to rest. Make yourself some tea or cider or eggnog. Throw some booze in it if you want. But walk away from the madness for a bit. Put on your pj’s and paint your toenails. Lock yourself in the bathroom and wash your face slowly and methodically. Immerse yourself in guilty pleasure TV for 30 minutes. Just do something for you. And rest.
This holiday season will happen as it happens. Do you want to remember your breakdown and nothing more? Or do you want to remember how you were brave enough to speak up for yourself in the midst of the noise? There is no perfect life, my dear. Take solace in the perfect imperfection.
And learn to rest.