Twice a year a heaviness creeps into my heart and my limbs. It sneaks up on me quietly, with no fanfare heralding its arrival. It catches me unawares every time and it always takes me a while to recognise that it is there. For someone as self aware as me this surprises me. Once I realise it has joined me again a wave of recognition floods through my being like meeting an unwelcome friend from my past.
"Why are you here" I whisper to myself?
"I wasn't expecting you".
Its arrival does not appear to be lodged within my conscious thought. I don't look at the calendar and want to feel sad and yet it comes nonetheless; 2 weeks before my birthday and as December arrives the visitor sneaks in as well.
Generally I'm a positive and optimistic person. I consider myself a person of considerable strength. I have fought and overcome some pretty difficult experiences during my life and I stand tall and firm, a bit battered around the edges but fixed with a purpose for my life.
Every year as the grey envelopes me I ponder the reason it has arrived. My answer is the reason I am writing this here because I think it may resonate with other people and especially the parents of children who have experienced difficulties in their early lives and who may have a sudden change in their behaviour for no reason that seems clear.
I think my reactionary sadness is etched into the very fibre of my being, it is not cognitive. I consciously want to enjoy Christmas and birthdays. I want to feel excited not sad. It is partly the result of a childhood where Christmas was a time of great stress in the household and birthdays could be complicated. I think I learned not to feel excited because there wasn't excitement around me. As an adult Christmas represents a happy family. I did not have a happy wider family and TCM and I were unable to start our own, much longed for, family so the lack of excitement and sadness continued to manifest. Now I think it is something that happens every year with subliminal triggering. I don't dread Christmas. I love decorating the tree and thinking about how to make the festive period fun for the children but I am literally going through the motions. The sense of being disconnected pervades. Being disconnected was how I coped as a child and, for some reason, that disconnectedness takes over for both those festivities.
This year it has been particularly difficult which is really upsetting because I want to enjoy my son's first Christmas with us. Unfortunately the toxicity that was my formative life has invaded my present, awakening issues that I would like to consciously disconnect from and leaving me on the floor literally shaking with fear and anger. At another time of the year the impact of these events might well leave less of a footprint on my psyche but, at a time when I'm already using all my energy to be the person I want to be, there is little energy left over to fight a battle that I don't want to fight. Last time I fought this battle I brought the walls tumbling down and I want to react in a more adult and considered way should I decide to finish the fight once and for all. I'm actively choosing not to fight this fight at the current time. I have a young family that I fought hard to have and I'm not allowing my past to threaten again all that is good in my life. To resolve the issue it would involve police involvement and a crime to be reported. I may well report that crime but it will be when I'm ready.
I consider myself to be a relatively well adjusted person, despite many things that could impact on that. I have a deep spirituality that has helped me ensure I want to daily explore my possibilities as a spiritual being, yet I am effected by the depression that tugs at me twice a year. I try to experience it mindfully. I acknowledge it is there when it makes itself known but I do not dwell on it. I go about my day, doing what I do and I don't let it become all of me. I speak positively to myself and try to maintain a positive perspective. This too shall pass. I will breathe with the weight on my chest until it lightens again and I will forget about it and I will no doubt be surprised again when it reappears later in the year.
One thing I do need to do however is to learn to ask the people around me to be kind to me whilst I'm feeling low. I've always struggled to ask for help. "I'll do it myself" was my childhood catchphrase. My early experience was that there was always a price to pay if you asked for help. Generally most people wouldn't even know I'm feeling this way and I'm not really one for shouting it from the rooftops. It feels like most people are busy feeling excited about Christmas (if Facebook is anything to go by) and I'm not sure they would understand really. I feel a bit like Scrooge for even daring to admit that I struggle with Christmas. I have everything I yearned for. Why am I not jumping up and down with excitement?
Believe me, I would if I could ......