I love Christmas – from putting up the (real!) tree, to mulled wine & mince pies, and all the thought, care and effort I love to put into choosing gifts each year! It’s like this wonderful build-up of excitement, hope and expectations…. which unfortunately is not a healthy combination for me, or at least it hasn’t been so far.
Despite how much I love the festive period – I honestly do, it’s my favourite time of year – it’s also been a repeated source of heartache and disappointment for me over the years. Perhaps it was the fact that we didn’t have much money growing up, so I never got that Barbie dream house? Or perhaps it was because my father passed away when I was 7 so all I ever really wanted for Christmas was him, and that was never going to happen?
All I know is that every year, without fail, I would feel this pain in my heart, and a sick, angry feeling in the pit of my stomach – the devastating realisation that yet again I was not going to get “what I wanted”. No matter how generous people were to me it was never “good enough”, and I would feel undervalued. I hated how precious this made me look, I hated feeling like a spoilt princess, but I had no idea what to do with this pain and heartache.
And then last year it reached the ultimate culmination of expectation and disappointment – I’d been waiting for my boyfriend to propose, and we’d talked about it in the run up to Christmas, he’d even asked about the ring, so I knew it was on the cards! Knowing how difficult Christmas was for me I assumed he would propose before the holiday, that we wouldn’t have to go through another year of disappointment on Christmas Day – that this year would finally be the year I did get exactly what I wanted.
Suffice to say this did not happen, and I wish I could say that I handled this with maturity and emotional intelligence but I’m afraid I didn’t. I just cried, and cried, and cried, as if my heart were breaking. This childlike voice in my head was screaming “why can I never have what I want when I want it??” I wish I could have been patient and understanding, and that when he did finally propose on the morning of our anniversary on New Year’s Eve that I could have received it with grace and dignity, but I didn’t.
I’m ashamed to say that I have put my now fiancé through a lot as I worked through these deep, emotional wounds. They felt so real to me at the time – I was convinced I was right and he was wrong and that I “deserved” better.
And I did deserve better. I deserved to not be mourning the loss of my Dad at the age of 7, I deserved to not have my brother taking out his grief in the form of rage on me and my younger sisters. I deserved a mother who would be there for us when I needed her. But I never got those things, and I certainly didn’t get them when I needed them.
But my fiancé deserves better too – he deserves a future wife and mother of his children who is able to be present and gracious at Christmas, as well as the rest of the year, and who is able to receive gifts with love and appreciation.
So this year I am taking Christmas off – I’m going away on a yoga retreat by myself to really face my demons and hopefully let some of them go. To sit with the discomfort of not projecting all my hopes & expectations onto a holiday and actually mourn the loss of what I never had, in the hopes I can finally appreciate what I do.