“Woohoo, can you believe it, Christmas is coming!?!”
“What are you doing for Christmas?”
“I am going home to visit my folks, and you?”
…….It’s been well over twenty years for me dreading to hear these exciting Christmas questions, year after year…
And too often summer wasn’t even properly finished when Christmas interrogation would start.
I grew up as on orphan child in a foster care till the age of 19.
Christmas questions often remind me of some most embarrassing questions from my childhood, when I would wish the ground would open up and swallow me:
“Who are your parents?”
Or even more popular in Croatia:“Whose child are you?”
Most of my childhood I wished to have a super power to grow up so fast just not to get asked those questions ever again.
Christmas time too often still keeps reminding me of my deep childhood shame which strongly shaped first twenty years of my life – shame about not having mum and dad, shame of not belonging, shame of not being ‘normal’, shame of not fitting in, shame of being weird, shame of my roots and so on…
In your adult mind reading this, I know it might sound ridiculous.
“Why would you feel ashamed?”
“You were just little girl, none of that was ever your fault. “
And yes, Today I do know all that.
But as a child I didn’t.
Knowing and Feeling aren’t always the same and this is especially important to keep in mind when dealing with our childhood trauma.
Ok, I hear you say, “but what does Christmas have to do with it?”
My deep childhood wounds of shame, guilt and anger about not having family to ‘go back to’, come up – Every Single Christmas in at least one of my mini melt downs.
Close to my 40’s now, it got harder and harder for me to keep lying to myself and others.
Faking that pre-Christmas smile.
Faking my merry Christmas story.
Faking that holiday enthusiasm for too many weeks before and after Christmas.
Just so I could feel ‘normal’.
Not to bring any awkwardness or, god forbid, some negative emotions into ‘The Magic of Christmas’.
And to fit in as nobody likes Grinch……
I have mastered keeping my Christmas pain to myself for too many decades now…
And I got finally exhausted of trying to keep that mask on.
It is time for me to admit and share with the world that, although I do love the joy of Christmas, I also get very upset, lonely and sad every year being reminded, that I have no blood family nor relatives I could celebrate that day with.
“Well, friends can be family, can’t they? “ I hear you say.
Yes they can and they ARE 🙂
And I am trully blessed of having a big family around the world today, THANK YOU ALL, you know who you are!
Now, most of my closest friends normally spend these magical holidays of the year with their families.
And of course, I have been invited to celebrate Christmas with them, and I had so much fun at some most beautiful Christmas lunches.
But, even if just for a very short moment in those family holiday gatherings, I would always get that sad sensation back. Sensation of not belonging, as that family isn’t really mine, and those family stories aren’t mine either.
And those ‘little moments’ could often have me in tears, feeling like an orphan charity Christmas case every year.
The other day one of my friends suggested that maybe if I just pretend that is not Christmas, it could be easier for me.
“Make yourself a nice meal, read a book, watch a movie, love yourself and forget that is Christmas.”
“But I have already tried that, a few times, and it also didn’t work! I tried all the Christmas tricks and nothing ever works!” I cried.
“Because I Know it is Christmas. I can hear neighbours having a good time having their Christmas lunch in the garden. If I take a walk, I can see happy families with their Christmas hats on and big grins on their faces, staring at me: “What’s wrong with you, don’t you know is Christmas? Why are you alone? Where is Your family?”
The reason I am writing this blog post is because I got fed up of hiding my pain and faking Christmas happiness.
I got fed up with lies I kept telling myself and others “ It’s ok.”
I will survive, it’s only pain.
It’s just one bloody day, who cares. “
Because I DO care.
Because most of the people who are alone, without ( happy ) family or friends care too.
Because my inbox in December gets overloaded with the emails and messages of suicidal and depressed people around the world who get deeply affected by forced Christmas happiness propaganda each year.
Because we all need to tune in and feel one another more.
Because it is more important to ask how one feels about Christmas than about gifts they are buying or getting.
Because not everyone can have a holiday spirit on demand.
Because being mindful of those around you who have experienced trauma won’t take away any of your Christmas joy.
Conquer your mountain!