*Heads Up! Some strong language below.*
To all those who struggle around the holidays—who feel ashamed of their unwanted aversion to the shining Christmas lights, singing carolers and festive windows decorated in cheer—
To all those who trying to keep it together around family—who want to fit in when visiting home, but know that it always brings forth unpredictable chaos that catalyzes their own coming undone—
To all those who don’t have the money to buy the holiday gifts they want and contribute to the gleeful exchange between family and friends—who feel like an asshole when receiving a far “better” gift than they gave, yet cloak themselves in pride, never to be vulnerable—
To all those who have a lost a loved one or who are losing one during this time and feel like fucking hell over the holidays, because instead of bringing forth the idea of oneness and celebration, to them it further illuminates their separateness—
To all those who feel guilty experiencing holiday cheer when there’s so much devastation happening on our planet—who have a hard time focusing on being merry when all they can think about are the endless disasters, deaths and crises occurring all over the world—
Your feelings are part of a collective pain experienced during a time that is deemed joyful and celebratory by our culture.
We don’t talk about this pain in depth, because who wants to dampen “the most wonderful time of the year” with sadness and grief?
But acknowledging the struggle does not have to take away from anyone’s personal bliss during this wonderful time of year.
Acknowledging the struggle frees us from judgment, as we recognize that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to feel during this time of year—that everything is happening as an opportunity for us to learn and grow.
Acknowledging the struggle is an act of courage, as it shines a bright light on the beautiful reality of being human and the challenges that come with that and are here for us to valiantly face, whether we want to or not.
Acknowledging the struggle is brave, as it allows us to confront the hurt rather than numb it, shame it, disdain it or blame it on someone else.
Acknowledging the struggle is strong, as it dissipates the pain, enabling us to get real with ourselves and feel our way through the ache.
Acknowledging the struggle, we are open to receiving, showing our vulnerability while we let down our walls and create opportunity for loved ones to support us.
So, if we are hurting, we can honor ourselves by finding the dignity of our process and feeling whatever needs to be felt in this moment in time.
Author: Jessica Winterstein
Image: Noah Silliman/Unsplash
Editor: Toby Israel