…and I am very peopled-out.
This has been a difficult Christmas in a lot of ways. It’s the first year that my Mom hasn’t had Christmas with me and my siblings either on Christmas or Boxing Day, and it bothers me. Since my parents split, Christmas has always been a less-than-perfect compromise, so now I’m kind of used to it, but it’s still…brutally unfair that we can’t all be together. My time with my significant other has been scant and our communication has been markedly limited by things he’s taking care of – which I understand and I’m at peace about it, but some days my heart misses him more. He hopes it’s temporary; I am being very cautious about what I hope for, only because I’m still working on keeping my hopes and expectations consistently untangled. Regardless, for right now, this is the way things are. Hence, I am blogging instead of talking to him about this stuff (multitasking, he gets these in his email so he’ll be up to speed, and I need to talk about it and sort things out a little).
Holidays are always a bit stressful simply because family can be stressful. Overall, this has been a better year. But these people to whom I am related and love so very much do not know how to plan well. My dream is to someday host Christmas for my family and make detailed plans and backup plans and just for one beautiful Christmas season not be subject to everyone else being too polite when people ask “What time?” so they say “Oh, whenever” and no one ever makes a bloody decision.
I also would like to be able to smile sweetly at certain family members as I explain that under my roof there is no mocking of anyone in this family, particularly my little brother, and that it’s probably time that they grew up and worked on being nice instead of allowing their insecurities to nudge them into asshole-mode, and would they like another cookie?
I have loved getting to visit with my family, it’s really just been the odd time that there’s been an issue. It’s just been a lot of people, a lot of noise, a lot of talking, a lot of Cards Against Humanity that went on for about 2 hours longer than it needed to… aaaand I’ve hit my limit :o)
The upside is, I am more aware of this limit, why I reach it, and what to do about it. I realised yesterday that this is something I’ve been attempting to deal with my entire life. When I was a kid and would go to camp, with some of my best friends, I would end up so exhausted that either during camp or afterward I would just burst into tears and not be able to fully stop crying for a solid half hour. I always thought I was overtired, because no one would fucking sleep (and hey, I am all for staying up and playing Janitor into the wee hours, but then our lovely camp leaders wanted us up at like 7 am, and at some point sanity needs to kick in), and I’d get home and my family would want me to talk to them about camp and have supper with them and all I wanted to do was go to sleep, and cue the uncontrollable sobbing. It was like torture. And I hated that I had so little emotional control, still hate it when that happens (although it’s not quite as extreme).
But now I realise it wasn’t lack of sleep necessarily; somewhat, but primarily it’s being around people all the time, constantly, not having a moment to myself, not having time to think, alone, sans company, always trying to figure out what was the correct way to behave, what I need to do and say, and it was fun but it was exhausting in a whole other way. Sleep helped some, but I just needed to be left alone, not give a blow by blow of my 5-day camp to my well-meaning but vastly unhelpful family. I needed to not have to interact or think about what to say, I needed peace and quiet. Because I can run on little sleep for a long time. I’m in grad school, it’s almost easy. But I cannot handle people all the time, day in, day out, without some very deep instincts kicking in and pushing me to get my alone time however I need to .
And similarly, this explains why I absolutely did not want, after a week of school and all my afterschool activities, to go to student conferences and conventions and hang out with either the lovely but very needy people I was good friends with or attempt to hang out with classmates who were only acquaintances and I did not have the energy or desire to attempt to deal with beyond class… I wanted to read, watch tv, play piano, and please, God, don’t surprise me with plans.
So here I’ve been very aware of how being around people so much for the last two days is wearing on me. And it’s worth it, definitely; I don’t get to see these family members more than a couple times a year, and I miss them and I love them, and it’s absolutely worth it. But now I’m done. Now, we enter the recovery and self love phase.
Starting with: limited communication. I caught up on messages tonight, and now I’m done with that (apart from staying logged into chat, because while my expectations are culled, I’m still a little bit desperate and need to at least feel like I am making every opportunity to keep channels of communication open on the off-chance we can spend even a few minutes together). I have sequestered myself in the basement with tea, so I can stay up and make good use of this time while the rest of the house is asleep, and food, and I am watching tv, and I put lotion on to try to help heal my skin that is all red and cracked and sore because I’ve washed my hands a thousand times in the last week, and I am going to paint my nails, and I am blogging because it’s cathartic, and I am not going to check work emails, I am not going to work on any work things for until at least day after tomorrow (possibly later), and I am going to organise things on my computer because it de-stresses me, and I am going to try to figure out how to make red-coloured gingerbread cookies using beets because I want to have another lovely stress-reducing baking day soon, and tomorrow I am going to stay in my pajamas for a while, sleep in, watch Star Trek and hopefully Doctor Who with my Dad (kind of a Christmas tradition around here), and that’s it.
I’m also deeply appreciative of the relatively taciturn nature of this household. I realise now that I have made past visits awkward because I think that I ought to be able to talk to my Dad and his wife like I do my Mom (we talk almost constantly), but my Dad is more like me. We don’t talk unless we have something to say, and otherwise we’re good with being silent. He’s not offended, he’s not uncomfortable, he’s not upset, nothing is wrong…we just get to enjoy each other’s company in silence, and it’s beautiful. More and more, I realise this was definitely the right way to spend my Christmas this year.
But I am still being very careful now that I know I’ve hit, or at least come very close to, my limit. I’m limiting contact with others (email, left a group chat that was stressing me, going to turn my phone off a good chunk of tomorrow, avoiding work stuff, etc.), and I’m going to prioritise what feeds my soul. I’ve been doing so much better with daily devotions, and they’ve made a world of difference; I want to keep that up. I have already de-stressed from most of work, now I de-stress/detox from being around people at intense levels for the last two days. Then I can refuel for my return to work. And I want to do this well.
This starts with keeping proper focus. As always, eyes on God. That helped today, although I still miss him and my emotions are still running high and it made for some tears earlier. But it’s okay. This really was a good Christmas, and still is, in many ways. Way less family drama this year, and so much to be grateful for. So I will focus on the good things, the beauty that’s all around me (we got a gorgeous snowfall the last few days, and it’s cold and it’s made the roads a bit tricky, but it’s so white and sparky and fresh and lovely outside…), and I will remember that God holds it all. It’s okay. Even if I don’t always feel it emotionally, I have faith, which means I know it regardless.
So Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.