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For me, the holiday season really kicks off at Halloween/My Birthday. My birthday is the day after Halloween and then a couple weeks later is Thanksgiving. Then Britt’s birthday. Then Christmas.
On my birthday this year I received a card in the mail from my mom. It was the first communication between us in over a year. I knew it was from her as soon as I saw her beautiful handwriting on the envelop. I waited until nap time and went outside to be alone to read it. Of course, it caused me to break down into some pretty ugly sobs.
In-between sobs I had a moment of realization. I realized that no matter how my birthday had gone down that I’d still be crying. Crying if my mom didn’t send a card. Crying if she’d written more. Crying if she’d written less.
For the past couple of years I’ve been attending a Wednesday night Bible Study with the women of my church (I’ve always gone to Bible Study on Wednesday nights but have only been going to the class pretty recently). What I’ve witnessed over the years is that every single one of us has at one time, or another, shared a need for prayer. Shared a hurt we feel inside. Shared our pain with each other.
While sitting there having “my moment” because I don’t have my mom. I don’t have my brother. I don’t have 99% of my family anymore. I realized that everybody hurts. Yes, much like “everybody poops” everybody hurts too.
We all, at some point in life, have a pain so intense that it never fully is healed. We all have, or will, cry those heart wrenching sobs. Hurting is a part of life.
Yes, my situation SUCKS. And sometimes I’m angry and sometimes I am sad. But this is my cross to bear. It’s my pain to shoulder just like I’m sure majority of you have some type of hurt you deal with too. We ALL have sucky situations. We all have to find a way to cope with them. Figure out ways to push the pain to the side to focus on the GOOD that life has to offer.
Just like death is a part of life, personal pain is also part of living. I think if we talked about that more and accepted that for what it is that it would make those hardships easier to handle. For me, it made it a little easier to add that card to the mantel with the others. It made it a little easier to quiet my cries and dry my tears and celebrate my special day with my family. By recognizing that this situation is hard and will probably always be hard and that it’s okay, that it’s part of living made me able to focus on the good in my life. I could better see the reasons that this hurt will NOT define me or steal my joy.
I know they say with grieving that you go through certain stages and I think my situation has given me similar stages to go through. That moment of clarity was my moment of acceptance. Does it mean I’m any less sad? Or that the hurt is fading? No. It just means I accept that the pain will always be in my heart and that this pain is my new normal. I’m able to function and deal with it and to keep it on a little shelf. Somedays I take it off the shelf and allow myself to be sad but then I put it back up there and keep on living my life.
I’ve always heard that the first holidays are the toughest when losing a loved one. I know Zach’s family is all going through the first holidays without Austin right now and I’m praying that they are able to find joy amidst the sadness they feel.
My first holidays without my family were last year. I know I didn’t blog about it all then but it was very hard for me. I’m a stickler for traditions and without my family all of my traditions changed. Thank God for my children as they truly got me through. Zach was amazing and, together, we worked out new traditions for our family. Making Turkey Cookies and eating ice cream for dinner at Thanksgiving. Having a huge feast at home on Dec 26th and letting our house be a mess of toys and laughter and pj wearing snuggles for the entire week after Christmas.
It was hard. I was sad. But it was also fun and joyful and wonderful.
This year is year two and, as I anticipated, it’s a little easier. The new traditions are set in place and we are looking forward to each of them. But the sadness is still there. Just as much, if not more than, last year. I don’t know that the sadness will ever go away?
Someone told me recently that my situation is worse than losing a loved one (which I am NOT saying is true at all). They said when someone passes away the rest of the family rallies together. They experience the pain and loss together and shoulder the burden of grief with one another. Their traditions carry on while they miss the person who is no longer there. For me it’s the opposite. I have lost, not just one family member, but all of them (other than my dad and distant relatives on his side). I have no one who understands the pain I feel. I have no one who I can share my past with. My childhood with. All of my holidays are now spent with Zach’s family. All of my traditions have had to become whatever they do. And that’s hard.
I’m so, so thankful for Zach’s family and their welcoming arms but it’s still not my family. I will always be set apart and will always be faced with little reminders of how I’m not “one of them.” A few of those type moments hit me on Thanksgiving and I got to that point where I was just ready to go home and be by myself. I needed to be sad and miss my family. I wonder if that is how it will always be at the holidays for me now? Will I always have to have a moment to cry? Will the sadness always have to bubble to the surface?
For a long time I felt like the door was shut on my relationship with my mom. And I know by that door being shut it also appears to mean it’s shut with my brother and all of my mom’s side of the family as well. I now am in prayer that she and I both live long enough for the situation to be different someday. It may be 25 years down the road that it’s possible but I pray someday we will be able to be part of each other’s lives on some level. I am not unrealistic enough to hope for some bff mother/daughter relationship but maybe she’ll be able to attend my kids’ weddings. Maybe we’ll be able to have a nice dinner on occasion with her there. Maybe. I have a little hope in my heart for that and having that hope helps the future seem a little brighter rather than feeling like I’m staring at a shut door.
Even with all the hardness in this whole situation. Even with the pain I feel and the longing I often have just to hug my mom so tight. Even with all of that I still have so much peace about this. I have faith that the Lord has his hand in this whole thing and that I am on the path I’m supposed to be on. That is the best path for my children and future children.
I know we all experience different pains in life. I never understood why people would say becoming an adult makes you jaded, but I totally get it now. I pray my children can be “pain free” for as long as possible in their lives but I also hope I can prepare them for when that hurt eventually comes. I hope my experience will help them to deal with their own hurts as a part of living. That they can see whatever hurt they face as something that doesn’t define them and can’t steal their joy unless they allow it to.
For now I’m going to keep focusing on my sweet family and all the blessings that surround us during this holiday season. I’m going to do my best to keep that sadness up on the shelf and to smile true, happy smiles as I find joy with those I love. If you’re facing hurt and pain this holiday season know that you’re also in my thoughts and prayers. I hope you are able to find the good around you and find reasons to be happy and that you know you’re not alone in the pain you may feel!