Christmastime is a bittersweet and challenging time for me.
On the one hand I like stuff like Christmas lights, and how pretty and sparkly and festive everything looks. I like that mom makes Christmas cookies and that there are stockings and we make gingerbread houses and in a way I also like that I see my siblings and that everyone comes home for Christmas.
At the same time, every year anew Christmas brings a merry bunch of challenges. I can name those more easily than the nice things, in fact. The most important ones for me are:
1. Painful feelings. Ever since I can remember Christmas gave me a feeling of want and need and missing out. On TV, at school, at stores, everywhere are pictures of what could be and should be. Suffice it to say that Christmas never even came close to living up to that at my childhood home and that I always felt abandoned at Christmas. I can still feel it today and it’s a weird, painful feeling.
2. Missing my birth mother. Well, okay, maybe not missing HER, as in her real self. More like missing what could have been. Mourning that I don’t even know if she’s still alive. That I lost her for good. I guess a piece of my heart still belongs to her, for what I always wished we would have had, and Christmastime reinforces that she’s not there for me and never was. That hurts.
3. Flashbacks. I can only guess that Christmastime must not have been all that merry for me in my childhood home, because random Christmassy things give me flashbacks of the real scary, threatening kind that give me physical sensations and feel like I’m about to get killed. I absolutely DREAD those flashbacks. If I could get rid of only one thing, this would be it.
4. The house bustling with people. I kind of like that everyone comes together and that everyone enjoys seeing each other and being with the family. I like that there are proper family dinners and that things are quite like I always figured they were supposed to be. But having all those people around stresses me and the Borderline part of me wishes they’d never show up in the first place, because for sure everyone will like everyone else better than me and mom will forget I’m even there when she can also be with them.
5. Family traditions. It makes me sad that my family has so many of their own, that I am not a part of, because they have a much longer history together than with me. It’s not so painful in everyday life, but on special occasions like Christmas I can feel it clearly. It makes me feel like I’m not really a part of the family in the same way as they are, even when mom assures me that they all started out the same way when they were born into the family. I guess having been “born” into the family only three years ago, I still have a lot of catching up to do.
6. Gift giving. I really wish we could skip that part. I have a persistent voice inside my head that tells me I deserve nothing, can give nothing that would be of value to anyone and that whatever people give me, they don’t mean it, and that if they act like they like what I give them, they lie. With my conscious, rational mind I know that’s not true, that it is just what I was trained to think when I was little, but shaking the feeling off is a whole different matter!
What makes Christmastime scary on top of the unpleasant moments is that any of those things can pop up anytime, with no or little warning. Right in the middle of something nice or fun, any of those nasty crap things can strike like lightning. (Get my picture up there? 😉 ) There might be a brief rumble in the skies that makes me aware it’s coming, then it strikes. That makes me reluctant to enjoy myself and Christmas in the first place, because all the time I run the risk that something crappy spoils it all – for me and then for others as well when I act like the crazy person or become bitchy or make a scene.
But I am determined to try really, really hard this Christmas to make the best of it. I even feel like I am reasonably well prepared for the crap parts. That is new. And also I really, really want to get to a point where I can be aware of the crap and feel the crap, yet not get thrown off track completely, so that I can still see good things as well. Who knows. Maybe this Christmas.