Thursday, July 19, 2018

Battling the Holiday Blues

by Lumiere (writer), NYC, November 26, 2007


Tis' the Season. Tips to help you battle the Holiday Blues.

When the Holiday Decorations begin to shimmer like lights in Las Vegas, a great sense of excitement and nostalgia for the season fill the air. However, lurking in the distance is the Charlie Brown cloud of depression looming not too far behind. Although our holiday events are covered in bright lights and pretty packages, they cause me and many others to analyze and be reminded of how dysfunctional our biological families are or question exactly how fulfilling our lives may or may not be.

There are three major anniversaries in my life which rush in with the annual cold winter air of November and cause unexpected tidal waves of sadness to wash over me. Time is the only teacher that has taught me how to cope with them:

The first, is the anniversary of the loss of my best friend. She passed away of cancer a few days before Thanksgiving several years ago. This time of year reminds me of how much I miss her; she always did the holiday wrapping and I did the shopping. The endless rolls of wrapping paper remind me of her last days on earth, because I still wonder how she maintained such a wonderful sense of humor. While clinging to life in the hospital she jokingly decreed, " With the exception of myself, people are forbidden to die in the months of November or December or on any other major holiday." Her witty wisdom was her way of telling me, her brother and friends that although the universe sometimes has other plans for each of our lifetime journeys.... those of us left behind must carry on. Doing so despite our loss and our heartache through the holidays is not an easy task, but it is possible. The memory of those we love can still makes us smile, even if for a moment it also makes us sad. We have to focus on our belief that love is eternal. Our gift to the memory of those we love is to continue celebrating our lives and being greatful for the blessings that still surround us, physically and in spirit.

The second anniversary of my holiday season is bittersweet; my adorable nephew has his birthday and he just turned five. Every year he gets older is another reminder of the Christmas when my sister (his mother) spitefully outed me at our holiday family celebration. The moment my father discovered I was gay, he left the house so he did not have to say goodbye and has not spoken to me since. Now I am completely ostracized from my fathers side of the family for living a lifestyle they do not respect or understand. Although the damage was done, I still attempt to keep the peace with my sister despite her betrayal. Well, at least until she began finding pleasure in constantly telling me about all the nasty conversations the members of my family have about me when I am not around. Yes, she even has the nerve to brag in detail about my fathers family functions she gets to attend. Events that I am not invited to due to my ‘gayness.’ After several rounds of her emotional abuse, I learned to establish healthy boundaries for myself and maintain an emotional distance between us. Rarely, do I give my sister the opportunity to participate in a round of emotional dart throwing at my expense. Although I am reminded of painful events in my life during this time, I refuse to be bitter over what has been lost. Instead I focus on what has been found on my journey, the love I have for my nephew and the opportunity to actively participate in his growth in life. Spoiling my nephew during the holidays makes me feel good. Along with random acts of kindness, charity donations and playing Secret Santa for strangers also has the same effect.

The third anniversary is the yearly reminder that the only person from my family who attempts to stay connected to me despite distance is my grandmother. She is the one person who keeps me from feeling like an emotional orphan. My mother sends me occasional text messages instead of calling me, especially if her boyfriend is around. When we do speak, she consumes the conversation with talk about her business. Then she rants about my little sister that is addicted to crystal meth- who uses her for money (although she enables it) and other personal problems. The saga of me being the responsible child, the good kid without the 'squeaky wheel syndrom' is that somewhere in the midst of my sibling’s personal drama, my mother forgets that I have needs too. It would be nice for once if my mother sincerely asked me, “How are you doing? What is going on in your life?” and actually took the time to listen. But reality has forced me to give up that dream a very long time ago because my mother only enjoys conversations that focus on her; anything else is null and void. Regardless of her lack of nurturing I still go shopping to buy her presents. The gifts I purchase are not out of tradition but out of gratitude for the fact she gave me life. Taking the time to celebrate our parents 'humanity,' despite their parental flaws, allows us the opportunity to accept them as people, as friends, not just as parents.

Thankfully, what helps keep me sane through the holidays is that I live about 2000 miles away from my home town. The distance between my old life and new one has helped me understand that my joy and happiness are not dependent on having the perfect family, but on loving myself and creating the family I deserve. Here are five more tips I use to cope with and battle the holiday blues:

1) Nurture Yourself: Spend some time alone in solitude. Cut off your cell phone. Light the candles and soak in a hot bath. Allow yourself some time to cry and grieve if you need to but set a time limit for yourself to move on. Then cuddle up with a good book and a cup of tea or hot coco. Eat well and make sure to get good nights rest during the holiday season... Especially when you have holiday events to attend to or gatherings you think might be emotionally draining. Treat yourself to a massage, facial or manicure and pedicure at the spa. Visit a therapist or counselor and poor your heart out if that is what you need. Pampering yourself a little goes a long way.

2) Journal: A great way to battle your holiday heartache is to write it on paper. Buy a notebook specifically for the holidays. Sit in a quiet place and write till your heart is content. Do not re-read over what you wrote. Burn the journal or notebook outside when you are done if you have to. Let it out. Let it go.

3) Meditate: Sit in a quiet place, where you will not be disturbed. Close your eyes and breathe in for a count of eight. Release in a count of eight. In your mind imagine all the friends and family in your life; mom, dad, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters. Imagine anyone who is living or who has passed away that significantly has touched your life for better, or for worse. One by one, in your minds eye; imagine them sitting in front of you, project your love for them, surround the person you are focusing on in light like a warm cocoon and acknowledge them for the lessons they have taught you. Thank them for the lessons and go on to the next person. Focusing on your love for others and your gratitude for the lessons that have helped you evolve as a human being, despite how people have treated you will bring a sense of peace to your spirit.

4) Take Inventory: Make a list of all the things you are grateful for in life. Stick it on your mirror so you can read it everyday.

5) Create A Family: No one ever said holidays have to be a traditional gathering, invite your friends for your own holiday party. Have everyone bring a dish and a white elephant gift. Surround yourself with people who nurture your soul, make you laugh and bring joy into your life. Celebrate your life, acknowledge your friends for the contribution they are to you and tell them in detail how grateful you are for knowing them. Gratitude for what you have, not what you have lost, will lift your spirit and encourage you appreciate the present moment and to look forward to the future.

About the Writer

Native Texan full of Southern Charm, ;) Art Director and Fashion Photographer with a background in Luxury Apparel. Producer of a Television show called " Art4Charity " that spotlights Philanthropists, non-profits, volunteers, and companies doing positive deeds around the world. Volunteer Art Therapy teacher to homeless children and activist.
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