Even though Thanksgiving for many is a time of joy, excitement, family and love (okay yes, and of course gratitude!), for others it is not. Thanksgiving and Christmas sometimes feel like days or dinners we just have to "get through" and then we'll be okay.
I love my family, and we have a lot of fun together — but I know about this postponing of my okayness.
I have written before about how I have grown into this space of not overcommitting to social events and whatnot, but that did not come without a lot of trial and error. I felt like I "should" join X organization, so I tried to fit the mold and make lots of appearances but it often felt like I was not really showing up — I was just wanting to belong. Someone else suggested that I "put down roots" in our town and develop some friendships and relationships for the sake of my marriage, but that backfired as well and resulted in a lot of awkward gatherings and what I refer to as The Social Media Meltdown of 2013.
I overcommitted, making myself the square peg trying to fit in the round hole, and I constantly postponed my okayness. I'll be okay as soon as this is over, I thought. My kids will be okay (and my stress level relatively reduced) once I'm home again. Everything will be okay this weekend, next month, next year.
Pretty shitty way to live, huh?
White-knuckling it through a meal, a day or a life IS NOT a life. It's a constantly moving finish line, when — you knew this was coming — you are okay now.
Everything is okay.
You are okay.
Easy for me to say, you may be thinking; I just admitted that my family is not half bad and I actually enjoy the holidays! But I promise, that's not to say we don't engage in our fair share of family drama and weird dynamics. People feel left out; people take sides; so-and-so hates so-and-so; we all drink...a lot. I am just now starting to notice the one in me who goes full speed ahead without giving myself the time, space or self-compassion first to say to myself, You are going to be uncomfortable. Treat yourself with kindness; you have all the time in the world to breathe and make sound decisions and enjoy yourself as much as possible. And that breathing and recognizing is your protection during the holidays, like a safety belt. As my friend Robin would say, you wouldn't get in the car for a long road trip without your seat belt on, right? You wouldn't go outside in the dead of winter without your coat on, would you? You don't have to go into the holiday season "unarmed," but you don't have to go armed and ready to pounce, either. Just go in with your little safety suit on.
Don't postpone your joy or your okayness this week or during this holiday season. If you expend all of your energy pretending that everything's okay to the outside world without taking the time to breathe and be kind to yourself and KNOW that you really are okay, you will exhaust yourself quickly. It is too much to put up a front and manage the discomfort on the inside. So know what your needs are, set some boundaries, and Be Okay. Whether that's setting a time limit on how long you stay at dinner or making sure you have time for a relaxing bubble bath when you get home, don't just jump on the crazy train as usual without considering yourself first.
I hope that you can enjoy yourself tomorrow, and throughout this magical holiday season. I hope that you can know that you are okay and you are loved and you are perfect just as you are. You are going a good job. Don't worry so much about what comes next or later or after. NOW is when you are okay. NOW is when you need and deserve and can give yourself love, joy and peace. Use this as a reminder that you are entitled to feel good tomorrow. Let's all be okay together.
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