I am sitting in the basement of my parents’ home on Christmas eve. Upstairs, five fine adults are chatting away and drinking whiskey. I say ‘adults’ because they’re all older than me by at least 28 years, and Christmas evokes a certain separation between generations. Christmas evokes all sorts of things. Just the word “Christmas” has a bajillion scoville units of stigma associated with it. The holiday season is, for many, the most depressing time of year. Why is that, when the “point” of the season is to be “merry”? I can’t answer that question. But I am going through a lot of emotions of my own, and today, I feel I made an important discovery.
I am going through what I must, for lack of a better word, call “love”. We don’t know how the hell it works, despite the millions of poets who have dedicated their lives to its study. Yet, so often, we try to piece it together for ourselves. It’s like catching a spore. Approach too quickly and your movement will cause air currents to move the spore, making your effort self-defeating. And if you let that defeat get to your mind, you’ll start thinking things like “Augh I suck at catching it” and “There’s no way to catch it” or “What the hell am I doing wrong? WHY CAN’T I CATCH IT?!” This in turn makes you more tense, which makes your efforts more erratic, desperate, pointless. Then you’re at a crossroads. Either give up entirely, remembering only the pain of your efforts; or, close your eyes, take a deep breath, reassure yourself you’re just trying too hard, and determine to try again tomorrow. It will be easier. Promise.
The importance of forgetting your failures cannot be emphasised enough when it comes to love. You will find yourself treating yourself and your new partner like you did the You of Olde, and your partner, the same way you did in that previous, awful, and toxic relationship. And you might never even notice you’re doing it.
This has happened to me. My multiple, long relationships with people for whom I didn’t have a strong romantic attraction caused major bad habits for me. I would tense up to avoid feeling my real emotions. I was super tense for years. I cried maybe once a year. In the last six months I’m sure I’ve cried like twenty-five times already. Crying is a good thing, by the way. It means you’re feeling your emotions. It means your mind and spirit are connected.
So when I entered this new relationship, I had a pair of intense, conflicting sensations. Being madly, crazy in love with someone is something I am rediscovering after a ~10 year hiatus. So this was refreshing and new, and very welcome. Happy!
On the other hand, I have the unfortunate habits of tensing up and blocking off my feelings whenever “relationship building” occurred. So I would try to feel the way I had before. Catching a spore with brute force. When I get like that, I say all sorts of shit I don’t actually feel that just makes it worse. It is a terrible time for all involved. Especially when we’re really in love. It makes everything really confusing.
On Christmas, there is a certain expectation to be cheerful. You tend to see more people in your life than usual. You are expected to give so much, to love everyone you can to your fullest. It’s fucking exhausting. And then you’re left drained, without feelings to feel. But it’s still Christmas and you still have to be cheerful. So you try. And you get tense. And it gets worse.
Mindfulness is key. When you feel “bad” (blanket term for you-know-what-feeling), take stock. Are you just drained? It’s okay to be tired. Just live in the moment.
Today, all these discoveries, combined with writing emotional letters to various loved ones, drained me. After I was like, “I feel ‘bad’ now. Should I give this letter to my lovely? Do I feel the things I felt when I wrote it?” Well, no, not right now. Right now I’m drained and need a break from feeling. I know how I felt then. Those feelings were real. This feeling is not a negation of that feeling, it’s just a tired feeling, which is okay. I took a deep breath and decided to enjoy, to my best ability, the kitchen I was in as I cut the carrots to make the soup. I soon forgot about my emotional issues (as much as is possible) and was just “tired”. Which is okay. No one will think worse of me for being emotionally tired during Christmas. Because everyone goes through the same shit. We all get it but no one wants to talk about it. Because it’s Christmas and we’re supposed to be merry. 9_9
Stay true to yourself, right now. Feel your emotions, not what you think you ought to feel. And it’s okay to be tired. It will pass. And if people ask how you are, if you’re okay, tell them: yes. I am okay. I am just tired. Thanks for asking.
I love you. Enjoy the winter as much as you can, even if it’s cold (or warm…?).
And thanks for reading.