Sometimes I feel like a spoiled brat, I dread the holidays because when I was little I loved being with family, I loved gathering with family, sharing stories, traditions, seeing the glow of the Christmas tree, smelling the turkey and dressing cooking in the oven, and being surrounded by family, playing card games and catching up, and now that isn’t my reality and in my head I complain about it.
I dread the holidays because it is a tug’o’war between putting my desires to be with my family up against supporting my spouse who himself dreads the holidays. They like his birthday remind him of another year passed where he feels like time has passed him by and where being with family reminds him of all he hasn’t done and the ways he feels he doesn’t measure up. Seeing him crumble in front of me because he knows I want to be with my family, but that he just can’t face it and he doesn’t want to be alone. Being torn each holiday between being sad I’m sick and relieved I’m sick because then I have a reason to not have to make the choice, wondering all along if this isn’t my own form of sabotage, being sick so then I don’t have to make the choice.
But still another holiday goes by and I miss seeing my family as a whole group.
I love interacting with them one at a time, I value each precious interaction and memory I have with them, but the moments as a group feel like stolen moments, moments that when I leave home for too long I come home to find silence, pain, and despondency. Do you know what it is like want the joy of family, but realize your time is short because you have a deadline before things break loose at home? So you do your best to keep yourself to stolen moments, because no matter how much you want time with them, balance is more important.
I’ve read all the quotes and even believe that we find joy by embracing what is and letting go of our expectations of what life would be.
Even so each holiday season I dream of what it would be like to walk into my grandma’s house (or my parents home, because somehow we made that move) and smell the smells and see my family and play card games, and spend time with my nieces and nephews, just like my aunts and uncles did with me, but then I realize that is not my reality. I’ve read all the quotes and even believe that we find joy by embracing what is and letting go of our expectations of what life would be. But talking the talking and living that walk are two different things for me because I have an excellent memory of what was and I miss it.
Yet last night as I was pondering on my Thanksgiving day I realized that the reason why things still hurt so much is that I am wishing for my past,
when the past no longer exists. I am still dreaming of me being 13, when all of our family was younger and we were all in a specific place at a specific time, none of us are still in that place. Because of the choices I made, choices that I joyfully made, though I didn’t see their consequences, I am not who I was, but I’ve been so caught up in me not being in the same place, that I didn’t stop to realize that no one else is in the same place either. I am mourning for a past that only exists in my memory and as long as I long for what was, I am not in a place to find value in what I have and what I can build in the future.
I didn’t realize just how destructive this was, until I shared with friends and one of them talked about longing for the past because we regret our choices and I realized, but I don’t regret my choices.
I long for the past at times not because I regret my choices, but because I don’t always know how to accept the realities that my choices brought. When we were engaged he came over to my house, we shared holidays between families, and we dated like a normal couple (mostly). I knew those activities were taxing, but I didn’t realize the cost, because I didn’t see it 24⁄7, now that I do see the cost, how do I balance that cost with a longing for what was, when what was is no longer?
The answer to that question is by embracing what is.
Embracing that my husband and I shared a delicious meal of red baron pizza, asparagus, crinkle fries, and apple cobbler for Thanksgiving. Embracing that I got to curl up next to him and fall asleep twice as he comforted that we weren’t with family. Embracing that we sat next to each other and made music with a variety of drums with music software. Loving that he accepts my love of SG-1 even if he doesn’t love it. Accepting that this man I love isn’t perfect, but he loves me and he cares so deeply that he does give where he can, and me embracing what he offers with a heart full of love. It means leaving what was and loving what is. Will there still be grieving moments? Times when I hear my favorite Christmas song on the radio and am drawn back to times past when things seemed simpler and much more full of family? Yes, but as I feel, I grieve, and I accept I can build a life full of joy and happiness, no matter where choices take me. To learn more about acceptance and grieving
I am grateful for my choices and I am grateful for the gift to learn how to let go of my tight hold of the past I cherish and embrace the gifts I have in the present. Life is what we make it, we can’t remake the past, but we can make something beautiful, once we embrace what is and its powerful potential.
I came across this quote today and it speaks to me. Each of us in our own way is broken, we aren’t as healthy as we thought, but it is embracing each of us in our flaws and pain that we all learn to love and be loved in a more beautiful way than our efforts to appear perfect will ever yield.