How do I go from feeling powerful and good about myself one day and the next, day, Easter Sunday, feeling so totally crappy about myself and judging everything that happens? I spend so much time overanalyzing everything other people do and say. It’s exhausting. Then I beat myself up for making myself and possibly others MIS.ER.ABLE.
Ugh. Life is more than a box of chocolates for me, Mother Gump. It’s a whole plethora of flavors and experiences and mutations and emotions that I generally wish I could avoid. Instead of being able to laugh off the “flavors” of human communication that I hate, I instead engage in totally destructive thinking and self sabotage.
I felt uneasy about yesterday, looking at others with sideways glances for validation of their good time. All we had planned to do was eat BBQ burgers and hang out anyway. But I spent too much worrying and feeling lonely and disconnected and then had a totally shit afternoon.
I felt that feeling in my guts where I just feel like I need to hit something or run, or yell or get in my car and drive far away, or drink a beer, or eat some junk food, or anything anything to get away from how shitty and disconnected from humans I was feeling.
What I chose to do instead was revolutionary for me. I chose to sit with it. To just let myself feel it, without masking it, and to see how that felt.
I went to my mostly cleaned back porch, where the view is now not of the RV as it has been since August, and I looked at the trees.
“How does this feel, Jennifer?” I asked myself.
I replied to myself, “I suck and everything sucks and this day is ruined and who do I think I am anyway, wanting a nice day with my family with no drama in my messed up head?”
Um, yeah, that line of questioning didn’t go well.
Shut up, brain. Thank you, brain, and emotions, for letting me feel my feelings. I have to give good ‘ol Jennifer a shout out here. I didn’t mask how painful my feelings were. I just let it happen. AND I WAS SAD. So what? Sadness happens. I was also lonely because I was in a ball of “I’m crap and nothing is good.” Well, some days are like this.
Holidays are incredibly hard. I didn’t have the best modeling for holidays as a kid. Every holiday spent with my family that I can remember from childhood to early adulthood involved multiple outbursts from one of the cast of characters from my family of origin and extended family. Some of these outbursts I can look back on and think with tenderness about the memories held in the day, but that is exceptionally rare.
Most memories of holidays I cannot get past the chaos. The storming off of adults in anger, never to be seen at the table or living room or kitchen again for the remainder of the evening or even the entire weekend, that was a common occurrence. I don’t say this to make my family members feel bad or feel guilty (I love and respect all of you), but the way I took this in was that it was “normal.” Children inevitably recreate patterns (and then later they do this as adults, hence my problem) that they experience. I have had countless students that came from or live in chaotic environments that end up creating chaos in the classroom, because it is familiar. Even if it totally sucks, it is still familiar. That can be comforting, even if it feels horrible. I know it’s counterintuitive, but it’s often all people know how to do.
I have tried pretty non-stop in my adult life to create holidays that worked for me and my children. For many years my kids’ dad and I had finally figured it out, after me re-creating the drama and becoming the adult that sulks or storms off or does something stupid. I was able to communicate and we were together able to advocate for our kids for what the four of us needed. It usually involved CHILLING OUT. My new family and I are still leaning into what holidays mean for us. My hunch is that it has a lot to do with TV and snacks. And honestly, truly, that is really fine with me.
It is not lost on me that the first family and the second family have the same needs.
My fond memories from childhood were playing games where everyone was together and eating their snacks around the table. And after about 2 hours we got tired and were ready for TV. Sometimes members went for walks, or used the dog as an excuse to go for a walk. So what, that’s a great idea!
Holidays and Vacations and Staycations can be so tricky. All that intensity of people you love near you 24/7. OMG it is hard.
So take care of yourself, Jennifer. Just learn to say, “I need to take a walk or a 90 minute break, and I’ll be back in a bit.” There is no harm in this, and everyone will thank me for the lack of drama.
Next up, Mother’s Day. Buckle up.
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