‘Tis The Season… To feel alone?

“For unloved daughters and sons, the stress of the holidays sweeps in much more than the nuisance of crowded stores, piped-in joys, worries about money or pleasing everyone with the right gift…”
Currently writing about (and studying) grown foster kids who’ve aged out of the system. You know, in the midst of my charming, warm family novels. It might not come as a shock to you that holidays can be difficult for many in our country. But would it surprise you to know that they’re difficult for me? Maybe even for you sometimes, just a little more than you’ve let yourself think about?
If so

“For unloved daughters and sons, the stress of the holidays sweeps in much more than the nuisance of crowded stores, piped-in joys, worries about money or pleasing everyone with the right gift…”

I’m writing into a new story about (and studying) grown foster kids who’ve aged out of the system. You know, in the midst of my charming, warm family novels. I stumbled across this article from Psychology Today, among many others, in my research.

It might not come as a shock to you that holidays can be difficult for many in our country. But would it surprise you to know that they’re difficult for me? And maybe even for you sometimes, just a little more than you’ve let yourself deal with?

baby stress

Yeah, it’s a cute baby. And we fight so hard to keep the holidays full of cheer, despite disappointments or unhappiness from our pasts. And that’s a good thing. We move forward, we heal, we become who’re we’re meant to be. There’s no one I know who thinks it’s a good idea to stagnate in the hurt of the past and let it define all that will ever come. But as cute as all the holiday hype is, and as much as we might want to dive into the celebration along with everyone else, sometimes there’s just too much bubbling up from deep inside to laugh or hug or work or jingle away.

“For many, it [holidays] will conjure up–almost as if fresh and hew–the pain, exclusion, and loss they felt in their families of origin,” the article says.

Yeah. That’s real stuff. Holiday stuff we don’t want to see but too often can’t dismiss. I’m determined to write an inspirational, hopeful, loving and celebratory Christmas novella for next November/December’s readers. But in it (because I’m me and I’m made up of all my experiences of family origin, and because I’m writing about characters with disconnection and abandonment and insecurity and fear as their own earliest memories), I’m also going to be tackling the reality that many of us face each year– that, “the holidays sometimes evoke a renewed sense of self-doubt about the decision made, along with a feeling of isolation. The weight of cultural disapproval may feel heavier at this time of year…”

lady holiday stress

So, not so cute after all.

How do we deal with feelings and emotions that seem the antithesis of what the rest of the world is experiencing?

How do we make jolly and joining and believing in new chances and fresh starts and renewed faith happen for ourselves, when watching those very wants and needs play out before us in how everyone else is behaving seems almost unreal?

I’m figuring it out for my characters (who really are going to melt and fill up your heart with their journeys). I’m figuring it out for my own holidays this year.

Keep fighting for your own true joy this season. Whatever that means for you, however you struggle, and regardless of the memories that join you…be true to yourself and your needs and find peace in your heart first, before you worry about how all of this is looking to others in your life.

So, here’s the article again. Read it. It’s working for the characters in my story. It’s working for me as well.

To get you started, here’s the article’s 7-step cheat sheet of tips for understanding some of the lows that can come along with those “you should be feeling this way instead” highs this time of years:

  • Take emotional inventory
  • Manage your thoughts and feelings
  • Set personal goals
  • Set boundaries ahead of time
  • Disengage when you need to
  • Be kind to yourself
  • Feed your sense of joy

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3 Responses to “‘Tis The Season… To feel alone?”

  1. Debbie Kaufman says:

    Timely article. I do well around traditional holidays, but I used to have trouble with Mothers Day, etc. Like a lot of people, I never had that Norman Rockwell childhood :)
    Fortunately, I’ve gotten a lot of perspective about that and don’t feel the impact these days.

    • What matters most is how we see forward, Debbie. As long as we allow ourselves to look back and understand, when the past sneaks up on us when we least expect it. As long as we don’t tell ourselves we’re only “okay” when we’re feeling the same things everyone around us seem to be…

  2. Emma Burcart says:

    Great post! As someone who was adopted into a great family, I feel very blessed, especially at the holidays. But I do remember feeling sad and abandoned as a young child. Luckily, all the time with my family has helped me move on from that and realize how loved I am. And this year with a new foster child in the family, we will have so much fun doing all of the family traditions that she has never experienced before. I am really looking forward to it!

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