When you just can't Christmas.
This holiday season has been brutal beyond words. For this usually chipper, Christmas loving, shopping every day, perfect gift planning, charity organizing little elf, it's been really hard to wrap my brain around being so unhappy. The truth is this entire holiday season, Thanksgiving included, there's been a huge empty space in my heart where I used to feel utter joy. And I've never been a sad or depressed or negative person so I have just had absolutely no idea where to begin to turn the feelings, or lack of feelings I should say, around. I have been just holding on waiting for the weekend to pass so I can move on with life.
It's actually been a very surreal experience to walk in the shoes that I know so many others have walked in and to be aware of the fact that I'm just going through the motions but not really sure I can do anything to change it. A friend said to me "I'm surprised you are going through a hard time, you look so happy in your pictures." I wasn't even sure what pictures he was talking about. I have been doing my best to participate in all of the family and holiday things that are offered to me but truth be told, I have felt either almost completely numb, or been in excruciating pain, or some combination of the two for most of the festivities. I guess on the surface people don't realize it but my close friends have all at some point taken me aside and asked what's going on. To which I usually completely fill with tears and choke out something about how I can't talk about it or I'll cry.
Since when am I a crier? I can probably count the number of times I've cried in the last 10 years on one hand. But if I count the number of times I've cried this month alone I would run out of fingers and toes. You know why I don't normally cry? Because CRYING SUCKS. You get all snotty and get a headache and ruin your mascara. My grandpa always taught me that crying was healthy, it was the way you cleanse your soul. But I've never liked it, always seems to just waste perfectly good time. There's always a logical explanation for things and crying just takes away from the solution. That's normal Nikki. Current Nikki is all I'm hungry and don't want to cook waaaahhhhhhh, my dogs are looking at me sad waaaahhhhh, I got bailed on for a date I was looking forward to waaaahhhhhh, this Hallmark Christmas movie is stupid waaaahhhhh. Jesus, who am I? So I've established that crying sucks but I've also established that once it starts, it's really hard to stop.
Besides crying I've been on a total roller coaster of emotions and moods. I can be totally happy and confident and myself and then BAM out of nowhere I"m losing my shit again. There seems to be so much pressure this time of year to get everything right, to be perfect, and to be able to juggle all of this extra stuff on top of what's already an incredibly hard balance for a lot of us. You have to find an outfit for that Christmas party? That means you have to take a night off away from your other responsibilities and go find it. Have to find gifts for your family and friends? That means countless hours of fighting traffic, looking for parking spots, getting yelled at by strangers. Need to make your famous cheesecake for the party? That means battling grocery carts and lines and three different stores to get the specific ingredients you need, and there just went three hours. What part of this is fun? And to be honest, I haven't watched any Christmas movies, listened to Christmas music, bought or wrapped a single gift, or donated to the charity event that I donate to every single year. I just can't Christmas.
And after all of this confusion, chaos, and depression, a friend said the simplest thing to me this morning that finally made the light bulb of "why" go off above my head. It was in that moment that I realized that this is actually the first time I've ever been single for the holidays. And honestly I think having someone close and important in your life to share this time with is really a blessing. Someone to bounce ideas and frustrations off of, to share the happy and joyous events and parties with, someone to focus on spoiling when everything else feels hard or overwhelming. I have spent my entire adult life trying to make a family for myself and have failed miserably at that. I've obviously put my effort in the wrong places and given too much of myself to the wrong people but my heart was always in the same place. I always wanted a big family and a house full of people to celebrate things with. I've celebrated a lot of holidays around my dining room table and I've cooked meals for countless people, family, friends, and complete strangers. I've had so much joy and love in my home but or whatever reason there always seems to be an expiration date on that. I think the worst thing about ending a relationship of three or four years is never hearing from their family again after all the time you had spent together. Like what was all that even for? And I have never been one to care for getting gifts but I sure love to give them. I put my entire heart and soul into the last few Christmases but you know what? Without kids around it's always just a little empty. Without a partner it's even sadder.
Maybe one of the best things about me is also one of the worst things about me - I wear my heart on my sleeve unapologetically and I am ok with being an open book. I am sad as hell this holiday season and I truthfully have just been waiting for it to be over. For me it's been complete confusion right up until today of why do I feel this way? Having some understanding about it does make it feel a little better. My mom says that as you get older you realize some holidays are good and some are bad and that's ok. It will always change. One year when my dad was in the military and stationed in Turkey and I was just a toddler, my mom had a major injury and was in the hospital for Christmas. Her sister had to take me for weeks and it was the worst Christmas ever for all of them. It was also her last Christmas with her own mom alive. So this year as my mom has run herself ragged taking care of all of the normal responsibilities that I can't seem to handle right now, finding perfect little gifts to put under the tree for me so I don't have a Christmas tree with nothing under it for the first time in my life, finding new foods for me to try and basically dragging me out of bed each day not allowing me to cry myself into a coma, I am more thankful for her than anything. My mom and I may struggle to get along sometimes but she really is a saint when it comes to taking care of me and making sure I appear to have my life together. To the friends that know this isn't me and have taken the time every day to actually pick up the phone and call me instead of just texting, who have listened to me cry and blow my snotty nose on the phone and especially to those who have spent their valuable time with me, knowing that I wasn't truly present at the moment, I love you all and I promise to make it up to you soon. Grownupping is hard sometimes but I'm thankful for the clarity that all of this is really just a lonely feeling that will pass. I refuse to give up on people, on love, and on the idea of having my own family. And in the meantime I couldn't be luckier to have so many wonderful families that have adopted me into their own.
I guess when you just can't Christmas, then you just hang on because this too shall pass. And for me I will remember that there is always, always, always so much to be thankful for.