At the risk of sounding like Scrooge, I have to say this:
I am really not a fan of Christmas.
For me, the holiday always equals a lot of stress… figuring out what to buy everyone, trying to figure out how to keep all of that in budget (and still pay bills), people trying to plan family get-togethers, having to be “on” all the time and coming away from my “time off” feeling that I really need a vacation from all of the celebration.
Let me explain what I mean by being “on” all the time. First and foremost, I am an introvert. I am an introvert that has borderline social anxiety disorder. So it’s a double-edged sword. Like all introverts, I NEED time away from social interaction to just be alone. But unlike the classic introvert, even small social get-togethers that are with people that I’ve known all my life are enough push me over the edge. I don’t get panic attacks so much anymore, but the stress of all of that is a constant battle I wage.
Last year wasn’t so bad. I wasn’t working. I had a limited amount of social interaction so I had the energy saved up to do all of the Christmases. I could bargain with myself… telling myself that it’s only for a few days and then I could go back into my shell again. But this year, I can’t do that. This year has been phenomenally worse… mostly because the days I have “off” from work are the holidays only. So although I may not have to go into work where people are demanding something from me all the time, but I am still expected to be “on”… “on” as in not depressed, not stressed, not anxious. Because no one can see that… no one can know that I am really NOT okay. As soon as this holiday is over, I have to go back to work. So there really will be no peace.
I think what is most exhausting about it all, though, is that, at least in my world, Christmas never really ends until the end of January. We do the Christmas with my parents, like always, and that one is not so bad. But the extended family Christmases go on and on and on. There’ll be one the week after. Then one three weeks after. So I don’t get a reprieve until… well… whatever the next holiday is when everyone is off from work. Labor Day? July 4th?
This Christmas has been particularly difficult. Due to the new work schedule, moving stress, and possibly a case of shingles (that might also be a pinched nerve), I opted not to go to Ormsby’s brother’s house for Christmas and decided to stay with my sister and brother-in-law instead. Ormsby, of course, went to be with his family. So we are apart. I don’t like it. But, as going with him would be more of said stress, more of a need to be “on” all the time, I realize it couldn’t have been any other way.
Still, it’s been hard. Not just because all I heard out of Ormsby all day was a lot of photo texts (not even so much as a phone call… or even a Skype call like we’d discussed…), but because my mind is not on Christmas. It’s on all of the absolute SHIT I have to do to make the new house livable before his father comes to visit on Friday. It’s on the fact that I have just spent three days doing absolutely nothing, when I have a pile of dishes that have to be done before they can be used, furniture that has to be rearranged so that I can unpack MORE boxes, put MORE stuff away, and just the simple fact that, well, I need to be back in my own space.
I’ve thought a lot during the last three days or so. Mostly back to all of the Christmases I’ve had since I’ve been an adult. The ones in my twenties… from, at least, about 20 until 26, aren’t worth commenting on. They are so far in the past, and pre-divorce, that I don’t even think about them (fondly or otherwise). The first post-divorce Christmas involved a trip to Florida… my first trip to Florida since High School… and was followed swiftly by the resolution that, no matter what it took, I needed to live there.
Christmases later, after the relocation became a reality, I spent most of them on planes flying back to Kentucky. But the visits were always so short lived that I’d be in and out and back in the sunshine before I knew it.
Except one Christmas in Florida… when I couldn’t afford to go home… I anticipated that that Christmas would suck. And it was strange, to be sure, to be alone, with no family nearby. But it was relaxing as well. And it was when Botboy (who was deployed) and I kept each other company on Skype… before any of the “relationship” shit happened. I got a lot done… I reorganized my apartment, cooked a lot, talked a lot, wrote, and watched a lot of television, and the time passed faster than I thought it would. I look back on that one fondly… for reasons that have little (if anything) to do with Botboy. Because the stress of having to be somewhere on time, of having to be “on,” of having to appease the demands and desires of every family member I have were not on me… at least, not after I finally, flatly, and sternly told my aunt that I was NOT going to ask my father for $500 to fly me to Kentucky.
I have, often, considered telling everyone that I am good for one Christmas and one Christmas only. That they need to choose which is the most imperative for me to be at. I feel that this would alleviate some of the personal stress and hell that I go through. But of course that opens another can of worms because then I am told that I am “selfish.” And that everyone will miss me. The missing me part, I’m sure, is very true. But I don’t think it’s selfish to try to look out for myself. And I am really NOT that selfish… selfish people don’t risk the certainty of a true panic attack to go to malls, Toys-R-Us, and Target to find toys and clothes to donate to underprivileged kids… I could easily save that energy and put it into a family Christmas… (and save the money and, simultaneously, save my credit score) but I get more satisfaction out of helping kids who don’t have anything get at least SOMETHING under their trees. Funny… that’s the most fun I get out of Christmas, despite the fact that I don’t get to watch them open any of them, and despite the fact that, after I’ve made the drop off, I really just want to go to bed.
So my current situation is this: I am sitting on my sister’s sofa, typing this blog. The left side of my torso is completely numb, beginning at my spinal cord and wrapping all the way around to my rib cage (thankfully I still have feeling in my tits or that would be a BIG problem), due to either stress or shingles (I went to the doctor… this is what they told me). I have a house full of boxes back in Louisville that are waiting to be unpacked and a shit ton of stuff that I haven’t seen in a year waiting to be put away. I am worried that my cat (who has hyperthyroidism) is at home and getting sicker. I am worried that I will not be able to get everything done before the end of the year at work. And I can’t do anything, anything about any of it until I am home.
Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to move so close to the holidays. I have had the down time that I wanted. I have played a ton of World of Warcraft, I have colored in the coloring book my parents gave me for Christmas, I have binge watched episode after episode of “Once Upon A Time” but to no avail. With so much going on, and with my hands figuratively tied, I simply can’t relax enough to try to… well… relax.
I need a vacation.