December is often a really difficult month for people to get through. Not everyone is appreciative of the Holiday season (for religious reasons, for personal reasons, etc.). For some people that are single, December can seem particularly hard to get through. Maybe your job doesn’t pay well enough for you to have the Christmas you like, which adds some stress to the season. Sometimes, even if you really want to, it’s just extremely difficult to stay positive this time of year. I’m not any kind of professional, so the only advice I can really give is keep bumbling through it. You can make it.
This time last year I felt like I was just pretending to be a person. In a way, I was. Everything had a surreal kind of quality to it. My boyfriend, whom I had broken up with earlier that Spring, had reached out to me for the first time to make sure I got my Christmas stuff. We met face-to-face for the first time in months and it had seemed to set my recovery back to ground zero. I went through all the motions of a broken heart all over again – questioning my decision, mourning my loss, wondering what I was doing with my life.
Shortly after meeting up with him and our talks to work on being friends, or maybe it was just before that, my boss had been in a rather serious accident on her bicycle. The weather was rainy and it was dark and a car hadn’t seen her. She ended up in the hospital for a good chunk of time with many struggles to follow after that.
Then, exactly a year ago today, I found out that my mother had Breast Cancer.
So it goes in the way of Decembers, that everything that can go wrong, sometimes does. And really, it’s not that December is the exclusive time of year where these things happen, it just happens to the be the month that leaves us the most vulnerable. It’s supposed to be the time of Santa, belief, faith, magic, wonder, colors and tinkling bells and music, family, friends, love. Things are supposed to go well in December. That’s what we’re told as children, that’s what we firmly believe and wish for as adults – but December is just another month, and sometimes things are tough. And that’s okay. Just keep bumbling.
By the time the neighborhood cat came up to my door for food a few days later sporting a large infected bump on his head I was nearly hysterical. I know I’ve told this story before, but reflecting on how it was a year ago I can’t help but bring it up again. I got a Christmas bonus that went entirely into taking the cat to the vet to make sure he didn’t get sick and die. I remember being in terrible, choking tears because I just couldn’t take one more thing going wrong and this stupid cat meant more to me than I could say because he’d been my emotional support for the 7 months I’d been split from Beau. This morning he’s laying at my side fluffy and unharmed and healthy as can be.
I’m not even 100% sure how I managed to get through December last year. I spent Christmas with my friends, who really are my family at this point. I enjoyed myself. I made it about the experience and I set all of my emotions about everything else in a little box to be let out later. All the same, I remember just sort of floating through December last year not really sure of who I was or where I was going. Not even feeling very real. Disconnected. As if all those things happening were actually happening to someone else.
But here I am now, and it’s Beau and me and the cat with our Christmas tree. And I found out who I was in my journey through December and the rest of Winter last year. (I’m sure an existential crisis will happen again in a few years-they always seem to come after little clumps of time). My boss is recovered and stronger than ever since her accident. My mother’s breast cancer is gone (as far as I know). It’s so different from how it was. Sometimes you just have to pretend until you can get through it and things become real again.
So, after all that long-winded reflection, I guess what I’m trying to say is keep bumbling through your December if you’re one of the ones struggling. Focus on the little things that go right – there’s always something. On days where it feels like everything is falling apart and the only thing you think will work to make it better is if you just stand outside and scream, scream, scream at the sky until you can’t even scream anymore, focus on those little things. Maybe your coffee was nice and hot. Maybe the light you were trying to get through stayed green just long enough and now you can continue on your way to work. You almost tripped over that sidewalk – almost – but didn’t. In my experience, focusing on those minuscule things can be the only thing that keeps you grounded.
And remember that it’s okay to feel sad, angry, upset, lost, drifting or any other emotion that doesn’t fit into the “Holiday cheer”. It’s okay, because it happens to all of us at some point or another, and it will pass. Eventually, perhaps slowly or painfully, it will pass. Keep bumbling through.