I’ve always admired honesty in writers. I admire honesty in general. If you are an avid reader of Monday Dieter (like my number one PR person, my brother, Rocky), you may be expecting a post about how to stop emotional eating over the holidays. And while that would be helpful to myself and many others, this week I decided to dig a little deeper. A deep dive into why the holidays aren’t happy.
Now before you roll your eyes, know that I was very hesitant to write this post. I was scared I’d come off bitter, cynical and make people around me feel uncomfortable. And maybe I will. But maybe one person who is feeling the exact same way as me will find peace on earth in this post (see what I did there).
The past week leading up to the holidays I have woken up with overwhelming sadness. It’s frustrating, I’m not going to lie. As an extremely happy person with an insane amount of blessings in life, it’s hard to feel sad and not feel in control of my happiness. Especially over the holidays. Fa la la la la la la la fuck you is frankly how many people, including me, feel this year.
I was out for drinks with a good friend of mine the other night and she said to me that she thought her best friend was winning at life because she was married. It baffled me that she thought this. MY friend was the one winning at life in my eyes – kick ass career, ton of friends, literally one of the funnest people I know – I could go on forever. Maybe she wasn’t married, but I’d pick her life over her friend’s marriage in a heartbeat. I’ve always felt that our society puts a hierarchy on accomplishments for us. Husband, house and kids mean you’ve made it in life. And hearing that example out of my friend’s mouth made it that much more real. Wow, people do feel that way. That’s why the holidays suck. It’s a time when reality comes into the limelight. The holidays are like milestone checkpoint. A clear reminder of where you were at this time last year and where you thought you’d be this year.
You may have said to yourself last year,
- “I won’t be single on Christmas next year”
- “This time next year I’ll have a baby”
- “I will have a better job by next year”
- “I will finally lose the weight this year”
But here you are, another Christmas Eve and these things haven’t happened. Worse, they are exactly the same.
Whether you are grieving the loss of a child, the loss of a 14 year relationship, the loss of a parent to dementia or the loss of a job, you are in mourning. And the holidays make you want to mourn even more. No christmas light, holiday card or cookie can change that.
For me, I am one of the millions of women struggling with pregnancy loss. I won’t have my bab(ies) to share the holidays with either. And last year, after already having suffered one pregnancy loss, I remember in sadness saying to my husband, we’ll have a baby by next Christmas. But Christmas is four days away, we’ve suffered two more losses and again we won’t have a baby on Christmas. And it’s sad. And no matter how hard you try to make it not sad, it’s sad. My ignorant self growing up never in 1 million years pictured myself in this situation.
Anyone who has ever struggled with pregnancy loss or infertility knows it’s a silent struggle. One that only you and your partner can understand. I personally also put women who decide not to have kids in this category because I find myself reading stories from these woman and feel a connection. A secret sisterhood against society. Anyone battling the upward current of societal standards knows how hard the holidays are.
So, what can you do to survive the holidays in a way that doesn’t involve eating your feelings or self-medicating with Christmas cookies?
First of all, be selfish. You might not be able to avoid every family gathering but you may be able to skip your annual girlfriend gathering. That’s ok.
Second, mingle with like minded people. Maybe it’s best if you stick to egg nog with your single friends or party solely with your kidless co-workers. All is good.
Third, avoid social media. No explanation necessary! None.
Fourth, start a new tradition. The holidays are all about tradition. Fly to Europe on Christmas night if you can and sleep in heavenly peace on an airplane. That’s my action plan this year.
Most importantly, take time to identify how you REALLY feel. Don’t soften the blow or try to justify why you feel the way you do. If you’re pissed off say WHY. If you’re sad, explain to yourself why. And if you simply want to lay on your couch with a bowl of green and red M&Ms in your christmas jammies crying while watching a string of lifetime movies, that’s ok. Just make sure you take some time to write down why. It may be the reason you stop at M&M number 345 instead of 346.
Just acknowledging ahead of time that the holidays will be difficult can help. That way, your feelings won’t take you by surprise. One minute you MAY feel like Clark Griswald when that house finally lit up and the next minute you are the Grinch. Again, that’s ok. It’s normal.
It may sound counterintuitive, but admitting the holidays suck, kind of make them happier.