Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The Visitor


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 ...... 

........and I really, really want to.






16 comments:

  1. Keep breathing. Hang on in there.

    Focus on doing just the next step, no more.

    Christmas is a massive trigger for me, too, this year. Hating it.

    I hope you find that the depression lifts, and you're able to enjoy parts of your first Christmas with Pip. Sorry to hear it's so hard for you. Just keep focussed on those Good Things and try to be kind to yourself - it sounds as though your feelings are all completely explainable.

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    1. Thank you Lizzi. I have good days and not so good days but I am one of life's soldiers and chug away until it lifts. I do remind myself of all the good in my life because I'm not depressed for any specific reason about life now. As long as the children have a nice time I will feel happy. xxx

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  2. I'm sorry the greyness approaches. And well done for admitting it, because I think sometimes acknowledging that life is hard and difficult, means that you can allow yourself to feel what you need to feel. I hope it passes quickly, and that you get the help you need. And most importantly be nice to yourself.

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    1. Thank you. I'm very honest about my feelings, to myself at least. Not always to those around me but life is so busy it's hard to actually sit down and say how you feel. I find writing about things very helpful because it consolidates the feelings instead of them just bobbing around in my head. xx

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  3. I kinda get how you feel: my Dad died a week before Christmas 15 years ago and as such there is a cloud over me at this time. Hard to shake off especially as I want to give Missy a fabulous Christmas.

    Regards Facebook, all I'd say is don't believe all you read.

    Big hugs to you xx

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    1. Oh Sezz, that is tough honey. I feel for you. Sending lots of healing love your way as well. I think the older you get the more this time of year is loaded with tons of emotions that an weigh us down. I hope you all have some lovely family time and are able to make some great memories despite the cloud. I'll think of you as I'm doing the same xxx

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  4. Best wishes for a good Christmas with your lovely family. xxx

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    1. Sending best wishes back to you all as well. xxx

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  5. The SW asked me yesterday if I was excited about Christmas and I think she was surprised that my reaction was not a resounding "oh yes of course we finally have our son and it is our first Christmas". All I know is that we have a child who seems to be incapable of appreciating anything and who only sees people to have any value if they are providing presents of sweets and the like and the one thing he has asked Santa for is not going to be coming to him so why would I be excited knowing that our son is going to end up disappointed and confused on Christmas Day. Wondering if it was because he was "bad" that Santa did not bring him the thing that he asked for.

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    1. I salute you for your honesty as well. It's hard to admit to SWs that all is not rosy - there is so much perceived pressure to tell them everything is going ok. I've been far more honest this time round about how things are going because I want to ensure I access any support available, especially for Katie. I think it's appreciated because then they can offer support.

      I think Christmas, especially a first Christmas with a newly adopted child is really tough. There are so many expectations that you will have this wonderful time when the reality is that the children are still settling in and the change in routine disrupts all the hard work that you've done establishing a safe routine that the child can rely on. Katie won't be getting one of the things that she's asked for because she wants make-up and I'm not buying make-up for a 6 year old. I don't think children are particularly grateful for what they get because they are too young to understand it all. I certainly don't think they are able to appreciate what they have either, nor would I expect mine to at this point. Those emotions develop over time and with age. Children certainly don't understand that money might be tight and that you've had to scrimp and save to buy them a present. I suspect your son is no different than the majority of children I know. Also children who have been in care often need to be mercenary to survive emotionally. They have to take charge of getting their needs met. It takes a long time to unpick all of that so they will potentially seek to gain all they can from everyone around them until they are able to rely on the people who are now their parents. That can take years to really take root. Things are very new for you so I'd be tempted to view your son's behaviour as being within that scenario. I do hope you have a nice Christmas though and that you are able to make your first memories in a gentle way and then build on that in the years to come. xxx

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  6. I think many more people are going through the motions of Christmas, to keep family happy, than you probably imagine. I know that for me it hasn't definitely felt like something that needs to done, instead of to be enjoyed. How horrid for you that it is the same each year. I hope one day you can find some peace with your past, find a Christmas that belongs to you and your family. xxx

    Thanks for sharing on The Weekly Adoption Shout Out

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  7. I often feel low at Christmas, because any difficulties with family life (in my case, husband feeling like I am not suitably festive and that the children are ungrateful) seem so at odds with the ideal of family life. I am a Catholic so often I go to church feeling like a complete fraud, because I've left the house after rowing with said husband who is NOT Catholic.... But when I listen a bit harder to the sermons, or let the music enter my soul, and really notice the words of the carols, I realise Christmas isn't just about joy. It is actually about hard work, problems, difficulties. Danger. And somehow miraculously getting through them. Ending up in some cobbled together far from perfect shelter (stable) Somewhere along the way children realise it is not just about presents, although it is about presents obviously!!!!!
    I bet for your children, your presence is the thing that is real to them,more than any of the other stuff. And even when our children are at their most selfish, they want us to be happy. So I am trying my best to show my happiness to the children more than my sadness, because that is what they need most.
    You write so beautifully about depression, and how it makes us just want to tune out to protect ourselves. It is a real effort to live in the here and now, especially as so much of Christmas is about memories and nostalgia and childhood joy. But it isn't too late! You can be your new self, built on all the strength that your old self has given you.

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    1. Maria - I love your perspective on the lessons to learn from Christmas and thank you for sharing them with me. Yes, when you think about it, it was amazing that the story didn't just end at the hands of Herod at birth! I celebrate Yule so celebrate the light returning to our dark and wintery earth and the promise of spring and life returning. Both stories bring similar messages of overcoming challenges and aiming for the light. I do think that you are what you think so pretending to be happy can actually make you happy. I'm cheerful a lot of the time or I certainly attempt to be. It gets the better of me some of the time but I plaster a smile on my face until it feels natural again. I hope that you had a lovely Christmas. You are certainly not a fraud for rowing with your husband. Love may be at the heart of all religious belief but there are times when saying your piece is necessary. I hope that you are feeling your old self again now. I started to feel better after Boxing Day and, as I write this, I feel able to take on life again once more. Happy new year to you xx

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  8. Oh that is really hard, even with your recognition of what is happening to you. I hope you come out of the other side soon. Happy New Year to you and your fabulous family, all the very best, GM

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    1. Thank you underbrella (love your handle btw!). I am feeling a lot better now and wish you a Happy New Year as well xx

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