The holidays and the end of the year are a perfect time to reflect on all things past and reconcile for a better future. Wherever you are in your journey to self-development, taking a stock of your life might seem like the right thing to do—but I want to caution you about something, specifically giving this time—or any other—special meaning just because everybody else is doing it. And because it’s time and because of a new year, and so on and so forth. Those numbers, those dates are abstract, they do not align with what’s really going on. Be aware of that. For some of us, this overhauling and reviewing can be quite overwhelming. Not only do we have to deal with all of the fallouts of the pandemic, we’re all trying to do it in ways that don’t add to all the stress because we believe that holidays are in some way magical and special. They are for sure, but sometimes only for the peddlers of Hallmark and Disney movies. Sure, it’s nice to be with a family that you get along with, and it’s nice to give and receive presents and enjoy all the wonderful food and the decorations. But don’t try to make it about anything bigger than that if you can afford to hold off on grand gestures (or on expecting them from others).
I’m all for personal enquiry and personal development but many of us are failing at the moment. And that’s okay. Because it’s not really a failure to acknowledge and accept that the times are especially difficult and that just because the calendar say this is the best time to reflect, it means that we’re ready for reflection. As kids say these days, “We just don’t have enough bandwidth for it.” Those of us who deal with trauma of relinquishment might experience particular difficulties in navigating our families. Everyone’s situation is different, but going back and spending time with any family is challenging even under the best circumstances. Ours are not the best circumstances – We have to deal with travel restrictions, with restrictions on group gatherings, we have to deal with the new virus strain, with illness, and with all of that other uncertainty that surrounds us. And then we have to deal with our own traumas and with all that baggage that comes with it.
For relinquishees the feeling of safety and trust is very important, and we need solid foundation to be able to find our footing in the world, and right now nothing seems safe. I always encourage people to be gentle with themselves, especially when it comes to emotional challenges and at the moment, that gentleness is needed more than ever before. This might not be the time to plan and play out major reunions, big revelations; it might not even be the time to try to find comfort where it hadn’t been given. Your loved ones and/ or the people who have failed you in the past are as exhausted and as confused as you are. I’m not saying to ignore whatever needs to be said and solved or to stay in denial and give up on trying to repair whatever has been on your mind, but don’t feel pressure to do so just because it’s December and you’ve decided (or the Internet told you) that 2022 is the new year to start anew. It could be, I’m just saying don’t force it.
No one knows when the world is going to go back to the old “normal” and if it ever will. In a way, we are all pioneers here, all of us trying to live according to the rules that we knew and the new rules that seem to be coming at us on daily basis. People who have suffered past trauma, people who are in recovery, and who are struggling to feel happy and healthy, need as much care and as little stress as possible. I don’t know what that looks like in practice, but if you’re finding yourself trying to make a choice between your own mental health and pleasing a relative, I’d say choose your mental health. If that means staying home for the holidays, withdrawing from the world, or spending your vacation with someone else other than your family, then do it. Don’t force yourself into situations that will leave you disturbed or threatened. Even the smallest upset can wreak havoc on a psyche that is rebuilding yourself. If there is anything that’s good about the holidays every year, perhaps it’s the idea of sleeping in, a cozy blanket, a good book and/ or a tv show you can binge on, and unplug from the world for a bit.