I Was Surprised When this Common Question Triggered Me (how I discovered I’m a “Scrooge”)

20 Dec

Wow, the holidays are tough. We all know this. It’s a wonder we all voluntarily do it year after year. The parties. The decorations. The fudge.

One of the things we accept about this time of year is that we’re going to be busy, we’re going to be scrambling around. But I think we remember enough being children in this wonder, have enough fond memories of sing-alongs and the anticipated Legos wrapped up under the tree, that we maintain its magic. We come at it with joy.

Well, I’m not. If you’ve been reading me enough, you know I’m a positive person, and when I’m not, I fight with everything I’ve got to be so. And then I write an article with lists and tricks I’ve found so you can do it too.

Since it’s the season of giving (and as I am a Christian, I may just say Christmas if you’ll allow), I’ll go ahead and give something I normally might not give, which is telling you something more personal than I normally tell.

I’m sad.

And I think I don’t like Christmas.

I’ve known I’m stressed and worried and unhappy, all of which is entirely against my faith that is mostly ridiculously strong, but I didn’t put the pieces together and fully identify myself as a proper Scrooge until someone texted me the other night and asked, “Are you ready for Christmas?”

Getting ready for Christmas means all that gift buying and wrapping and the baking and decorating.

I felt immensely annoyed and just texted back, “I’m ready for it to be over.”

And then I realized that this beautiful holiday, with its romantic movies movies and twinkle lights and generosity and togetherness and (if you believe as I do) that amazing miraculous gift of Jesus, is something that I don’t enjoy.

In fact, if it weren’t for the pretty twinkle lights and fabulous decorations and pine scent, I’d be utterly bonkers.

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I love Christmas trees, which is the extent of my holiday decor, except for putting a Santa hat on my window Hitchcock.

Maybe, before, I’ve enjoyed it, but certainly, this year, I genuinely just want it to be over.

There are plenty of articles and blogs and memes online about why the holidays are so hard for people, and I didn’t imagine I’d be throwing in to a saturated subject matter, but here I am.

Before I go on, please, I don’t want you to feel sorry for me. Trust me, I can do that well enough for myself, and do it I do indeed. The only reason I’m willing to put myself out here so morosely is so that you can either feel not so alone in what you’re feeling, or so you can be mindful of others who feel as we do. And maybe I just need to vent and feel not so alone in it myself.

I haven’t read the other articles on this matter. I imagine they speak of loneliness, or people who’ve been through hard times before this time of year and how the holidays bring that back. These situations are absolutely very real.

Me? Well … Here goes.

I’m not necessarily lonely, but it is certainly more blatant to me this time of year that I am that person who arrives year after year to holiday gatherings without a significant other. Sometimes I do get sad about this, and that’s harder to fend off when it’s under the holiday spotlight. Also, I don’t have that buddy, that partner, that automatic ally for whatever may transpire at the family gatherings or the business thing.

And oh the gifts. I so love to give. I so love to do and say and gift and provide and please and help. But I’m an entrepreneur and sole breadwinner of my house, and having one’s own business isn’t easy. Having a business such as mine isn’t easy. I don’t have a side job and I don’t have a spouse and …

I think about the health reasons I can’t have a side job.

I wonder why I don’t have a spouse.

I obsess over being in a significantly different socioeconomic bracket as all of my family and most of my friends.

I don’t get people presents, and it’s embarrassing.

Yeah, yeah, I know material items aren’t important, that time is what’s important, blah blah blah, but please hear me when I say that for those of us who can’t, when you and everyone else do, we feel a lot of anxiety and shame. It’s just there.

And then just showing up around the people we might see only once a year, having that yearly check-in, that end-of-year report … do we feel good about our status then? Not really, when we walk in the door empty handed.

Sure, I have all my stories about all my travel and adventures, which is my own version of being rich, but often that tends to be, ironically, more unwelcome than sitting at the table fanning out hundred-dollar bills. I guess because they don’t get to take it home for themselves.

The other thing is, I don’t feel well. I try every moment to feel how blessed I am having so many friends, being part of this community, having any family at all, but good lord–

Remember that whole thing where I have invisible disabilities?

(Remember that more than one in ten people have invisible disabilities?)

All of the socializing triggers my fibromyalgia. I get so very, very, very tired. Going someplace and sitting kills my back; I need to lie down, and that’s just not an option everywhere. And all the food and the treats have got my IBS totally wrecked. So also I’ve nothing to wear because I look like I’m in my third trimester and I have major anxiety just getting dressed and terrible discomfort in my clothes.

Last night, I had a good cry, and I didn’t try to stop it or solve it or move into a self-talk or do any coping techniques. I allowed it. And I didn’t feel bad about it. I accepted and embraced it as part of who I am. I have fibromyalgia. A symptom of which is depression, and a trigger for which is overexertion.

I don’t know what you are going through, what your loved ones are going through or your party guests are going through, but if nothing else, let’s acknowledge that this is going on.

I guess that’ll be my holiday message and what gift I may give. The holidays, the new year, the end of the year and looking back on what did or didn’t happen, there are so many ways and places that the pain and difficulty can come out, and as it did for me, it could come as a complete surprise even to ourselves. It’s such a time of dressing up and tearing down, when the things we can brush off any other time of year are roaring, farting monsters in our living rooms.

I say, let’s allow the sadness, and let’s allow it without shame, because it’s Christmas, and Christmas is hard.

Recommended Further Reading

What “Passing” Means to a Disabled Person
The Struggle to Feel Pretty with a Chronic Illness
Depression Doesn’t Care
6 Ways to Include Universal Design at Your Holiday Event

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2 thoughts on “I Was Surprised When this Common Question Triggered Me (how I discovered I’m a “Scrooge”)

  1. I feel for you, to be so sad when all around people are At least acting happy. I hate New Years for similar reasons. By then I’m tired of pretending and being joyful. But that said as a fellow Christian I’m gonna ask you to dig deep inside yourself. Remember the baby in a manger not the relatives or friends around the table. Remember what that baby means to us, hope and yes joy. When what we see as our shortcomings are pushed in our face too frequently they grow bigger than mt Rushmore.
    My prayer is that you will feel a glimpse of the joy the shepherds did, this Christmas. Don’t believe the lies of not being good enough, after all God loves you.

    • Thank you Cindy so much for your note. I’ve actually caught more than just a glimpse, so your prayer has been answered, and I thank you for it. I wish you many blessings and much peace today, tomorrow, and in the new year.

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