Holidays have a way of bringing stuff up for most of us. For some people, that ‘stuff’ is full of celebration and great egg nog. But for many it’s about old pain and memories that rise up inside without much warning.
Today I am grateful for this festive time. I’m grateful for my strength and vision to make new choices, to heal and to know joy. Now I find myself excited about holiday meal planning, decorating my own tree, silly holiday tunes and time spent with family and friends.
My earlier years were a big roller coaster ride for me. My dad suffered with PTSD and alcoholism brought on by his own childhood trauma. Unfortunately, mom fell into the role of manipulative enabler.
Although dad eventually put down the drinks, and he and I were able to make significant amends, not before much of my trauma was created. The early holiday ups and downs created in my childhood stayed with me until I decided to create my own holiday drama. Yes, I carried it with me, and thank goodness I wasn’t able to bear my own children. I fear I may have continued to pass the pain on.
The holidays for my sister and I were torment, they were scary, and sadly terrifying. As soon as my sis turned 18, she was off to college and absent as much as possible. This left me an ‘only child’ of 8 hiding in my room, desk blocking the door with music blocking out the commotion.
As years went by, it was incredibly handy for me to take on the self pity, sadness, and hate for these holidays and to share my misery with anyone in my path, even those who tried to lift me higher. Especially those people. I dragged my sadness and old memories around like old luggage. I cried my sad story to all who would stay and listen. As soon as I turned 18, I married a man I think I loved, just to get out of the house. What I couldn’t escape was my own despair. I’m sure I did a number on most of his holidays, a man who truly loved Christmas.
Eventually the pain become so great, and I was finally ready to dig out and find a way clear of my own misery. A caring and close friend guided me to therapy, she was gentle and soulfully kind. I was determined to be free, free from this negative veil I wrapped around myself . Freedom is worth everything it costs. It cost me the courage and willingness to give up my sadness and anger, to give up a story that no longer served me.
This story isn’t about my growing up with an alcoholic dad and the enabling mom, but more of a hopeful revelation. What I learned by sharing my soul and releasing my shame, is that there is a pathway for others to see that we can give it all up and leave it at the door. I believe we hold on to these stories to hide shame, to hide our true beautiful self. Once we are brave enough to know we want out, we can let it all go. It’s over.
The truthbomb here is this: WE decide. We choose to be joy, to get real, to stop hiding our humanness. Happiness, freedom, peace of mind … it’s a choice. I’m very grateful I stayed the course.