8.4
December 16, 2019

For those with Aching Hearts this Holiday Season.

The holidays glow with glittery ornaments as a delicate spruce scent emanates from the Christmas tree, gradually filling the house.

But there’s another side to it all: the holidays are not a joyous time for everyone.

Maybe you’re not feeling sparkly at all. Maybe you’re feeling exhausted, depressed, betrayed, or lonely.

Maybe you’re having a really tough time.

Maybe you lost someone beloved and you’re still so shocked that you can barely bring the words to your lips when someone asks how you’re doing.

Maybe you’re fighting back tears every day.

Maybe you’re in the throes of panic, anxiety, trauma, anger, illness, or physical pain.

On top of that, it can feel overwhelming to worry about inconveniencing others during the holidays as you navigate the societal pressure to plaster on a smile, shrug nonchalantly, and say you’re fine.

I’m so sorry you’re hurting—and I hate how those words can fall incredibly flat. I wish to look into your eyes and not look away. I wish to lean in. To sit with you.

Pain does not magically vanish because the calendar marches toward December 25th.

Grief that hangs like a heavy weight does not just disappear because everyone else seems to be sipping hot cocoa, running around, and doing a thousand things.

It can feel deeply disjointing and disconnecting—the world pushes on a frantic, frenzied pace as you struggle to keep up.

Maybe you don’t want to keep up.

Maybe you’re not in the holiday spirit at all.

And you know what?

That’s okay.

Be right where you are.

I hear you.

I’ve fought my own battles and had years that were decorated with shadows, rather than sparkles.

You don’t need to fake it.

Your pain can be honored this holiday season, too.

It doesn’t have to be all sequins, champagne, and cheer. Truly, I don’t think there’s any “right” way to be festive. You can show up however you need to.

There is freedom. There is room for what hurts, what feels broken, what ails you. There is room to rest, to say no to obligations, to tend to yourself.

Be right where you are. Even if it’s not a picture-perfect place.

This holiday season, I wish you a moment of feeling seen in your pain—for that is the most sacred gift we could ever receive.

Screw the bows and wrapping paper, the curled red ribbon, and hot spiced wine.

That’s all lovely, but what’s even better is what’s real. And what’s real isn’t always pretty.

Suffering is real. Sadness is real. Depression. PTSD. Anxiety. Insomnia. Addiction. Illness. Death. Those are all real.

Pain does not magically vanish because the calendar turns to December 25th.

We need to acknowledge this, as a society. We need to lean in, to care, and to offer deep, sweet empathy for ourselves and each other.

This is so healing. 

We need to remember that sometimes, pain can be amplified in the hustle and bustle, the unspoken pressure to be merry.

Old memories can sting, while emptiness thuds in your chest like a force to be reckoned with. Sadness can burn—because maybe it doesn’t feel possible to be merry this year.

So, I wish for you to feel known—not only in the dazzling twinkly lights—but in the darkness, too.

This is so healing.

And I hope that you can feel held.

By a dear friend or beloved. By your own heart. By the Divine. By a singular moment of comfort that comes like a wave, in the midst of the pain. By a whisper of joy that feels a little like self-acceptance and commitment to your own growth—yes, even when it feels messy and exhausting. Especially then.

I hope you can savor the sweet moments, even if they feel utterly inconsequential compared to the ache.

Please know that you are not forgotten, as people are going here and there and buying everything that glitters at Target for $9.99.

I know you’re hurting. Life can feel awful and messy and plain unfair sometimes. May you honor that.

May we all honor it.

And I wish not to give you overused advice that tastes like a cloud of cheap perfume, brushing off your feelings and telling you it will all get better soon. I truly hope it does.

But I want to respect what’s going on for you right now. I wish to lean in. To sit with you.

So, dear one out there, maybe you’re not in the holiday spirit at all.

Maybe your heart is raw, bones weary.

And you know what?

That’s okay.

Be right where you are.

In this acceptance, perhaps there is a drop of peace.

A singular moment of comfort that comes like a wave.

In the midst of the pain.

I hope you can savor that.

Read 4 Comments and Reply

author: Sarah Harvey

Image: Anthony Tran / Unsplash

Editor: Kelsey Michal