With COVID still very much underway, I was wondering how your holidays have been effected this year. As for me, I’m used to being able to spend Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s surrounded by my family- usually at least 20 people, and this year has seemed so opposite of that. Although I have been able to enjoy some of this season’s traditional good food, I am still very much missing being able to spend quality time with loved ones and sharing laughs.
What are some of the things that you’ve missed the most during this holiday season? How has this year’s holidays looked different than usual for you?
What is Your Favorite Holiday?
We are right in the middle of the holiday season, and I would love to know what everyone’s favorite holiday is and why!
I think mine would have to be Christmas, especially more lately because I can see my son’s face light up as he sees all the lights and decorations every where. I also admire the meaning that it has on a religious level.
How about you guys?
What are you proud of from 2018?
Hey guys! It’s 2019! Pretty cool, kinda.
Some people seem to really care about New Years, it signifies a time to reflect and commit to change. Other people think it’s BS. And some don’t really care too much!
However you feel about New Years, it’s always good to reflect on time that’s passed and recognize strides that you have made. My favorite quote when I was in the midst of a lot of struggles was,
“I may not be where I want to be but thank God I’m not where I used to be”
We don’t have to leap from ditches to mountain tops to recognize our power and strength. And sometimes it’s not even steps that deserve recognition, sometimes it’s staying right where you are, because it can be really hard to not fall backward, and good enough is good enough.
This New Years Eve, I laid in bed next to Willow while she slept and realized the changes that occurred over the past year. I thought about the pain, fear, and excitement I felt, and how hopeless I was at times. I realized how far I have come by looking back for a few moments. And it felt good, and it made me feel proud of myself. And I didn’t feel bad saying that.
So, what are you guys proud of from 2018?
I’m proud of myself for starting school, taking the leap to “real” employment and beginning the process of getting off of disability and SSI, moving, admitting to myself and a few friends that I was depressed, sticking with my path even when it was scary and painful and uncertain, trying every day to be a good mom, working hard, getting certified as a SMART recovery facilitator, Recovery Coach, and a Recovery Support Specialist, starting the path to getting my licence, and beginning to throw away things that I don’t need.
Let’s congratulate each other on our success in being here, even when it’s really hard work.
Best things to do on Winter Break?
Hey guys! New Years is almost here! Isn’t that crazy?! It’s almost 2019! That means winter break is coming!! Maybe it’s even started for you already!
So, what’s your favorite thing to do on winter break? What are you looking forward to?
I won’t be back in school until the end of January, so I’m looking forward to SLEEP!! I’m also looking forward to taking some time off with Willow, and doing a few nerdy holiday things before Christmas. Hopefully we get one nice snow day, too!
How about you guys?
Discomfort doesn’t last
This time of year is hard for me. Maybe it’s the cold, or the holidays, or the constant reminder of new beginnings which is really just a reminder of failures you have committed. I don’t remember if it’s always been this hard to muddle through the days as it feels right now. Maybe it’s only felt like this for a few days, or weeks or months. Maybe it’s felt like this for years. I don’t know why I can’t remember. I probably could if I stopped all my thoughts and everything else coming and going through my body and mind, but I think that would take an extraordinary amount of effort, and energy, which I feel as though I have almost none of. Sometimes I crave the feeling of motivation. To be energized and excited by life, and feel the deep, strong push from within to do. Other times I want to curl up in my feelings and recede deeply within my sadness and heavy mind until all I can feel around me is the dull vibration of the world around me. I think I’m depressed. I think I need a break, or a vacation, or many, many long naps. I think I need someone to come with big strong arms and grab hold of everything I carry, without asking, and just walk away from me. I just want everything to stop for a while. I need either to suddenly become disgustingly happy or be given the grace to fall apart and become a dark oozing puddle. And then I remember, I can’t. I can’t fall apart, and it’s not likely that I will soon be given a break or a vacation. It’s silly to imagine a giant lumberjack walking up to me and relieving me of everything I carry in my mind and body. Life will continue to relentlessly come towards me, and it won’t stop for a very very long time. Maybe it would help me to be myself. Not mom, or employee, or friend. Just be me. Sit and listen to music and draw and do all the silly things that made my life important before I was too important to do them. I feel so far away from myself sometimes. Or, really, a lot of times. It feels like I’m not Eliza anymore, and I never will be again; I’ll just be Mom forever and ever. The pressure of being mom feels like too much some days. It feels like the pressure of starting a semester really strong. Making friends, doing homework, getting A’s, being liked by your teachers and yourself. And going and going and forgetting about yourself and everything else until suddenly you turn around and there’s a mountain behind you that’s been slowly building for weeks. And you see the mountain shake and falter and you run. But you can’t run fast enough, and you’re not strong enough to stop it from falling. So it does, and it crushes you. And all of a sudden you fail over and over again until that’s who you are; a failure. And you fail at school and life and work and so you decide giving up is much easier then disappointing anyone. It feels like I’m going and going- far past my tipping point, and I’m scared to turn around and see the mountain that’s built up behind me. I’m scared because I know if I look, I’ll see how close it is to tipping over. And I am scared to break; I’m scared to fail and give up. But how on Earth can I find the strength within to keep going? Maybe it’s best not to wonder how on Earth I will get through. Maybe I should just blindly go forward. Like I did when I gave birth. Like I’ve done throughout my life. Maybe that’s how all the successful people do it; suffer silently while blindly trusting their own tremendous strength. When I was a teenager, I did a lot of Yoga. It became a panacea to my issues. It helped me love my body, trust my strength, and feel physically and spiritually empowered. I remember one time I went to a Kundalini class- which I had never done before or even heard of. I had no idea the physical strain holding one pose for long periods would have on me. I remember being in a big class, with people I didn’t know, and a teacher I had never met. I was scared of the discomfort I began to feel. I remember saying to myself- give up- put your arms down and rest. At some point in the practice, I closed my eyes and realized that five seconds ago I felt like I could not physically continue, but I had. And I had done that continuously and unconsciously throughout the practice. It was empowering to realize the hidden strength I had. I remember talking myself through the pose- reminding myself that discomfort cannot and will not kill me. That I would not die from this discomfort- that no disaster would happen- the only possibility I was looking at was the one of falling out of a pose. So I kindly told myself that I was strong, that I could and would stay in this pose for as long as I physically could. I would not convince myself to give up, as I had silently been doing throughout my practice. And if I did fall out of a pose, or give in from unbearable discomfort, that I would not be ashamed or embarrassed. I promised myself I would be proud of making it farther than I had ever imagined. In life, I have gone much further than I have imagined. I have lived. I have stopped cutting, and numbing myself with drugs and alcohol. I have been a mother, and a good one. I have made it another day, every single day, for the last 8,166 days. Through unimaginable pain, sadness, happiness, and anger I have made it. And today, I promise myself I will make it. And if I wake up tomorrow and decide I must give up, then I will allow myself to. But for the next hour, I promise myself I will make it. And tomorrow when I wake up I will promise myself to make it again and again. And if I can’t love myself enough to do it for me, I will do it for my daughter. And I will become stronger and happier and better. And maybe not tomorrow or next week or next year, but someday I will be given a break and a vacation and everything else I want and need.
Remembering Those no Longer with us… and Tough times during the Holidays
The holiday season may be tough for some people for a variety of reasons. For some, it may be a constant reminder of negative, perhaps traumatic events that have occurred in their past around specific dates. For others, it may be uncomfortable to be forced into situations or not-so-familiar environments with family that they only see on special occasions. For me personally, I both love and have a difficult time with the holiday season. I love the colored lights and decor, I love giving presents and seeing the joy on my family’s faces and I love the great food we eat and the wonderful memories created when we get to spend time together. Nevertheless I have lost a couple of people that have been close to me at one point or another in my life during this season, and although I find peace knowing that they are in a better place, it hurts me to know that I can’t spend time with them anymore and see them continue to grow into awesome individuals.
On December 26th, 2012, God called home my childhood best friend. She was an awesome person, a cool person to hang out with, a great singer, a compassionate soul. I will always remember sitting in the cafeteria in elementary school and laughing at her as she drank her chocolate milk out of the carton with it turned sideways. Back then I thought I was cool and whenever we would get dissed by the “cool kids”, my phrase of choice was “you freakin’ asteroid”. Although I did keep in touch with her over the years, we did grow apart and were no longer best friends like we used to be when we were in elementary school. Her death was not easier due to this though, as guilt settled in and I definitely wished I had spent more time reaching out and talking to her as we got older. R.I.P. C.M.D
On December 31st, 2015, God called home another one of my best friends. Man was this hard to swallow. It hit me like a ton of bricks, and I can still recall as clear as day when I was on her Facebook profile and was a little confused as I saw so many people posting R.I.P. on her timeline. I didn’t understand why they were doing that, I had just spoken to her, and we had agreed to cancel our weekend plans of going to Walmart because she had decided on spending time with her sister instead. Everything seemed fine, although underneath it all I know not everything was. S.E.K. was the funniest, most random, best softball player, most determined and strong individual I have ever met in my entire life. I will forever be grateful of our weekly car rides to and from groups, our detox sessions at Sweet Frog afterwards that helped us unwind, our random conversations, our trips to Charming Charlie’s to purchase gifts for other people because the Lord knows neither of us would be caught dead buying something in there for ourselves. I definitely miss her more than words can explain, and every time our song comes on the radio or Pandora, I honestly feel like she is with me. R.I.P. S.E.K.
Are there any reasons why the holidays are especially tough for any of you?
Since this time of year makes you think a lot… about what you have, what you don’t, and what you wish you had lets talk about gratitude! What are… 3 things your grateful for? 2 things you want to change? 1 thing you want to accomplish? I’ll start! I’m grateful for… 1. My daughter 2. Having a open mind and heart 3. Being loved and liked by my friends and family (even if I forget it sometimes) I want to change… 1. My anxiety and have a positive state of mind and let things go that I cannot change 2. Living in a shelter I want to accomplish… 1. Going back to school!
How to Cope With the Holiday Sadness
The holidays can be extremely difficult for many of us because it brings up memories of loved ones who have passed. Whether the memory was making Grandma’s famous cookies or the ritual of having Christmas dinner at your sister’s house, it can hurt and still affect us deeply after years of the passing. There’s never a perfect time of year to grieve, but the holidays can certainly trigger those feelings of sadness. The holiday season can also make it tough for those who’ve recently divorced, traveled across the world and won’t be home for Christmas (or any other holiday), or struggle with depression in general.
Here are “10 Ways to Cope When the Holidays Hurt” by Suzanne Degges- White Ph.D.
1.Don’t completely isolate yourself from other people. 2.Allow yourself space to acknowledge your loss and the pain it has produced, but do not let yourself use the loss as an excuse to escape through alcohol or other addictive substances. 3.If a particular ritual is just too painful to try and continue this year, accept that there are limits to what you are capable of doing and forgive yourself for that. 4.Create a special new ritual that honors the person who is no longer with you. 5.Light a special candle and offer a silent or spoken tribute to this person. 6.Add a special decoration to your collection and display it in this person’s honor. 7.Choose a special recipe that was always a favorite and prepare it each year – saying a special prayer in their honor before consuming it. 8.Ask yourself and your family what this person loved most about the holiday season – and engage in this aspect of the holiday with especial fervor! If it was the lights of the season, throw your heart into decorating your home with the lights that always brought a smile! If it was the cookies, bake your heart out – even if you aren’t the most talent chef, enjoy doing something that your loved one would have enjoyed seeing happen. If it was the carols and songs of the season, let the CDs, Sirius, or Pandora serenade the silence with the songs this person loved. 9.Remind yourself that at this time of year, the shortest day falls on the last day of autumn. Winter may bring the coldest weather, the deepest hibernation of animal life, the barren trees may stand out starkly against the winter sky, but remind yourself that once the first day of winter has arrived, the days are once again growing in length and the nights are beginning to shorten. This is a magic time when we can feel the change in the natural world on a very deep level. The grief or loss you feel may ebb and flow like a tide, but remind yourself that there is a natural rhythm in life and it truly is always darkest before the dawn. 10.Honor your feelings, but don’t allow yourself to get so wrapped up in the loss that you forget the gifts that this person had brought to your life! When we let ourselves get sucked into a place of abject grief and darkness, we are sacrificing the joy that this person inspired in our lives and in others. Feeling sadness and grief is natural and normal; forgetting about the positive life force this person had been is not.
Do you do anything in particular to help cope with the holiday sadness? My mom makes special floral arrangements for Christmas and she makes special ones for loved ones who have passed. One person in particular loved sparkle and “bling” so she is sure to make that arrangement with glitter and other decorations in her honor. It’s healing to make this a new tradition because although having the holidays with her at the house is no longer available, bringing the special arrangements to the graves is still something.
TurningPointCT.org was developed by young people in Connecticut who are in recovery from mental health and substance use issues. We know what it’s like to feel alone, stressed, worried, sad, and angry. We’ve lived through the ups and downs of self-harm, drugs and alcohol, and the struggle to find help. Learn More »