The holidays whip up a special recipe. Take a heap of fantasies and high expectations, add a dash of comparing with other families, sprinkle in a variety of imperfect people with different flavor personalities, put it all together for hours and hours in an oven and pray it turns out with perfection.
Then when you’re asked on Monday the “how was your holiday?” Most of us don’t tell the whole story. We share the positive highlights. We post the beautiful pictures, cropping out anything unflattering. We omit the part of the story where family members argue, give silent treatment, drink too much, or hurt each others feelings with small sarcastic jabs and burn the turkey, etc.
What I like about that, is when we focus on the positive, we are more grateful, and feel good. However, it’s harmful when you bottle up feelings, keep secrets, and participate in dirty deals (I.e., “I don’t say anything about his drinking, so he doesn’t say anything about my overeating) and most of all … the worst thing is to feel all alone or lonely, even in a big family.
There needs to be a balance between being positive and focusing on good and being honest and real. What I find happens most often is at some point the fantasy and reality collide. Maybe it’s an argument, maybe it’s the connection just isn’t as deep as you wanted, maybe everyone’s just zoned out on phones, tv’s, etc.
Go to the bathroom. It’s a natural place to be alone and hit the pause button. Look at yourself in the mirror and comfort yourself. Take a deep, belly breath. Stroke your arm (like you’re chilly). If you need to, have a silent tantrum. Then, admit the truth.
Talk to yourself in the mirror like you would talk to a friend, “Listen, this is not going the way we wanted. Our feelings are hurt. We’re angry. But we can still have a good time.” Then focus on what you can control, (hint: you can control how you respond to things). If you’re angry or hurt with someone, try to act with compassion and kindness. Do an experiment and agree with them — or ask to talk with them and tell the truth about your feelings.
You can’t control them. You can’t control anyone else. You can’t control if you’re alone this holiday. You can’t control much really, other than the way you decide to respond to the situation.
And, I want you to know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Every single person struggles with the holidays. Why? Because we’re human. Nothing is perfect. No one is perfect. So just do your best, and know that other people are trying to do their best too….. focus on love–even if that’s just for yourself.