So I had a bad Christmas

Today I am furiously angry. Makes a change from depression.

I called Ron last night, as pre-arranged. Stupid call. First I was sure he’d have forgotten, and I’d get his voice mail. Or he’d pick up and be surprised to hear from me. But no, he was there, and he was expecting me to call. I felt first of all really really scared to call him. Then I was basically too scared to talk to him much. We talked a tiny bit about why I might be scared – was I worried he would ‘turn on me’….I didn’t really know. He gives me a few minutes, with some silences, and then we say goodbye and hang up. I feel like an idiot. And also, I wasn’t in a crisis or anything, so felt stupid for calling a therapist for nothing it seemed.

Then, I had severe anxiety. I took half a xanax to cope. Then slept for two hours, then up again. Then I wrote Ron an email, as per usual. I can express myself better in writing. Different parts don’t get in the way and strangle my voice. I wrote about the part of me that always wants to cope, to look at the bright side, and that tries to stifle the other part of me that kind of wants to tell the truth of things. I think that’s why I get so scared – it’s these two sides at war, with the part that is trying to make the best of it all under attack by this other more warlike part that wants to tell her side of the story. It’s a scary situation for me.

Because the truth of it is, Christmas for me is always bad. The kid part likes the candy, the decorations, the possibility of presents. But the other parts just feel all this pain and hopelessness.

Going to my family’s for Christmas is very very confusing for me. They present this facade of perfection and reasonableness, and at the same time, I am remembering things that happened that were basically criminal IMO. But I lose my own sense of what is real, and start believing their sense of it. For a few hours anyway. The cost afterwards is high – depression, confusion, and now fury.

Also the years and years of them acting as if I am worth less than everyone else. Not as smart, not as accomplished, lazy, just no good. Why? Why am I so bad?

How could they have done the stuff they did? Or stood by and let it happen? So now I get to struggle for the rest of my life to cope with it.

I’m furious with the lies, the pretending, the crap. All for what purpose?

Odd that this was all triggered off by a non conversation with my therapist.

Oh, and the other part that makes me so mad? I’m not allowed to have had a bad Christmas. When I even mildly say, well, Christmas wasn’t that great….my friends immediately change the subject. I have no concrete thing to say – no one got drunk or beat anyone up. Why can’t I have had a bad Christmas? It’s my actual experience, damn it. At least give me that.

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13 comments
  1. i am glad you are angry, that seems to me to be the proper response to being treated so poorly, both as a child and now. i'm sorry i didn't know you were having a rough day. i hope i distracted your from that a little bit. as for your friends, it is sad that they can't hear your truth. keep speaking it. c.

  2. Ellen said:

    Hi Catherine – Thanks, that helps. Anger is good sometimes. Meeting you was a good part of my day for sure.

  3. Ruth said:

    Christmas is hard for me too. Each year gets better as I recognize potential triggers and try to avoid them. There seems to be some unwritten rule that all Christmas experiences must be perfect. Sometime it just isn't. Have you considered the non-conversation with your counselor was a symptom and not the trigger? Just one possibility. Some one once pointed out to me that anger is what gets us out of ruts and into an open mind to change. I just wish it didn't do it so violently. (I guess you can't see me shaking my head at my own frustration.)

  4. di345 said:

    I'm sorry Christmas was hard. I can relate because even when nothing bad happens now the echo of all the bad things that are ignored is still there. I can relate to the frustration of not saying much to a therapist and then getting overwhelmed by feelings and thoughts after hanging up. I hope Ron replies to your email.di

  5. Ellen said:

    @ Ruth – Sorry you have a hard time also with Xmas festivities. I'm sure the non-conversations was a symptom, just I'm not sure what it means, why I would be afraid. Except that maybe I'm afraid of saying the kind of truth we get at in therapy, the bad stuff…I don't know.Anger can be good, and that's a great way of putting it. I feel a lot better today. Thx for commenting@ di – Yes,that's it. Ron did reply in a very very brief way, and I'm OK with it now. I actually feel supported now, because he cared enough to have me call him, even if the conversation was odd. Everyone else in my life moves away when I show any vulnerability, but Ron moves towards. It's nice.

  6. Paula said:

    X-mas wasnt easy here either. Yet I remember years were it was worse. I am glad that you express anger. It is helpful. For me it was a big step towards healing. Along the way I learned to express my anger more on a constructive way.I had stopped attending family X-mas when I was 14. I cut the contact till I knew what was going on inside me. Cutting the contact on such a young age was possible because I was in boarding school and received a monthly check. Not a call or a letter, just the check… even before I cut the contact. I did not know what was going on but I did know it made me miserable. Cut! I do not avoid triggers. By now I allow them simply to happen. I simply deal with the triggers differently and they lost the power over me. I ave my friends credit for not being able to deal with my vulnerability, simply I did nt know how to deal with it myself. By now I can and by now some of my friends can too, others have left my life as I figured that my relation with these friends was rather dysfunctional as well.You are on your way and you are doing great. The ups and downs will stay for a while longer… till the ups arent as up anymore and the downs not so down anymore= more balance. Much love, Paula

  7. Ellen said:

    @ Paula – Wow, it would not have occurred to me to skip Christmas at 14. That must have been very very tough for you. It seems like a good plan to not avoid triggers if you have the coping skills to deal. As for friends….my friends have their positives and their negatives. I don't want to bring them down. But also, I want to be able to tell a bit of my truth. Thanks Paula, hugs to you.@ hubcats – I've actually spoken on the phone with Ron before, but it's always been awkward – usually I was crying I guess. But I think it's OK – he is a therapist after all. He's hopefully able to accept however I show up, and I found speaking with him helpful.I actually found that response from Miss Manners uncaring. Yes, you want to keep up a facade at work….but you also need somewhere where you can speak the truth. I guess manners are not my forte.

  8. I can get amazed at what triggers some things in my life too. Something we think so insignificant. Even though you think your conversation with Ron was stupid and meaningless, it was not. They never are. I found that out. There is always something to learn and to improve on. I am proud of you Ellen. I am sorry your Christmas was not good. Blessings and safe hugs.

  9. HubCats said:

    I didn't get 'keep up a facade' from the Miss Manners response. I'm still wondering how you would like people to respond to you, when you're down. what might they say? or do?

  10. Ellen said:

    @ JBR – Thanks! Yeah, talking to Ron was helpful after all, like you say. hugs@ HubCats – I guess it depends who it is hubcats. For a friend, it would be nice if they said something like 'sounds rough…do you want to talk about it'. Just an acknowledgment basically that yes, this is my experience and it's OK. A listening heart is the thing I guess I'm looking for ideally.For people who are not friends, I wouldn't mention this at all, like at work, I would just say xmas was OK and I went to my mother's, blah blah blah. cheers

  11. HubCats said:

    I've been wrestling with this. When you say you're not allowed to have a bad Christmas, you're describing that you feel rejected by your friend when you express the slightest sadness or depression. How did your family respond to your emotions? Did they ignore them, or get angry if you needed attention or comfort? That's in contrast to Ron, who not only welcomes your expression of "difficult" emotions like sadness or anger, but he comes closer, and he makes additional time for those feelings. I recognize that, with my therapist. And I believe that they are modeling for us, so that we can learn to welcome and allow our own emotions (instead of hating them and ourselves).In defense of most people, they're not therapists, and they don't have boundaries that protect them from being affected by your sadness and your bad Christmas, and they probably were taught to fear vulnerability, too. Look at the way we both responded to Harriet's gloomy assessment of 2011. I hope we can learn to allow our own feelings, and offer support and comfort to ourselves, and our friends.Laura

  12. Ellen said:

    @ HubCats – Well, my family would immediately withdraw if I showed any negative emotion. So I hate it when what I express isn't acknowledged in any way. Yeah, that's a good point about therapists. Learning to accept ourselves is huge too.I think I have chosen friends that in some ways feel familiar to me, so it's not surprising they react somewhat like my family did. I totally get that they're not going to act like a therapist, and I wouldn't want them to. Yeah, I guess trying to be cheerful could be seen as not allowing someone else's depression and real feelings. (Sorry Harriet if that's the case.) That's an excellent hope you have.

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