Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas and all that stuff

Christmas - since I'm on an upswing you're probably thinking I'd write a positive post full of the joys of the festive season; time with family, love and goodwill towards my fellow man and so on. Yeah no. Christmas is always a very bad time of year for me, too many memories of bad times that surface and make current times seem worse than they are. For sure, this year I made it to Christmas Eve before the Christmas meltdown hit, but it still hit.

Christmas to many many people is a time of joyous reunions and happy times viewing Christmas lights, attending work and family Christmas parties, preparing for the day and anticipating the wonderful time that December 25th brings (I'm not going to go into the religious aspect here, let's just take it as a given that Christmas at its core is of course the celebration of the birth of Jesus). For many more it is a time to remember people lost, a time to grieve, a time where loneliness is felt more keenly than any other time of the year. Some people choose to ignore the day altogether and go about their business quite happy to enjoy the day off from work or routine without buying into the hullabaloo. Christmas is in reality a varied experience for everyone.

When I was a child Christmas followed a strict routine. Family present opening, followed by a trip to my grandmother's house for further present opening and Christmas lunch. For my cousins and my siblings this was I think a most enjoyable day. For me it was more complex.

The house of my childhood had a verandah that went around half the house and faced the exit to my town and the mountains in the distance. It was a very nice view across the paddocks to the road out of town and those mountains (it is a small country town, the paddocks belonged to a dairy farmer). If you looked at the right time you could see the street lights turn off and on at dawn and dusk. During the school holidays I would often rise early and sit on the railing watching the street lights and waiting for that magical moment when they blinked off. On days other than Christmas, Easter and my birthday I would then go back to bed and my parents believed I was a hopeless late sleeper. Truth was I was usually awake a lot of the night after terrifying nightmares and would sleep heavily after dawn and so wake late and grumpy. But I digress.

The times I spent in the pre-dawn glow waiting for the street lights to turn off were magical to me. They were so quiet and peaceful, and I felt like I was the only soul on earth awake. Completely untrue of course because the town baker would be finishing his baking, and the dairy farmer would be milking the cows and that was only two of the early risers. It was a country town in dairy farming country, more people would be awake than asleep. But for me, in my little bubble of quiet, it seemed like I was alone. I would savour this peaceful time, thinking of nothing but watching the streetlights blink out and the greyness shrouding the countryside gradually thin and allow the colour of the day to seep into the landscape. It was a very zen time for me, although as a child I didn't think like that. I just knew I felt good about things for the time I sat on the verandah.

At Christmas I usually stayed on the verandah until the rest of the family woke, or went to my bed and waited. We would then do the present thing which was very exciting and I was always full of anticipation. My brother and I did not get on much of the time, we fought and I mean physically fought. He used to tease me unmercifully, and do terrible things to me which included an ongoing tendency to throw beetles at me at night time because he knew I was phobic about the little critters. He collected them to race at day time when they were quiet. But I digress again. On Christmas day, apart from telling me lies about my gifts which I eventually learned not to believe, we called a truce.

So Christmas morning was a good time. Going to my grandmother's for a complex variety of reasons was a very stressful time for me. I never wanted to go but I knew better than to say anything about it. I would go, act the role in which I was cast and eventually get to go home again and if I got through that time without any bad things happening it was a good day. So from childhood Christmas has been a complicated blend of excitement, anxiety, worry and fear.

As an adult that has carried forward and each year I suffer anxiety attacks, unexplained fear and worry and depression. I did think that this year, since I am changing my life and my attitude, the Christmas crash would not happen. It did, Christmas Eve was a bad time, and Christmas Day was extremely stressful for a variety of reasons. This year some of that stress was actually valid in that I had some awkward situations to negotiate during the day, but a great deal of it was self inflicted. A sleepless night the night before did not help my coping mechanisms at all.

I have vowed to myself however that this Christmas is the last one where I allow the ghosts of the past to affect my enjoyment of the present (and the presents). Next Christmas will be the first Christmas of my new life and I plan to make it the best one of my life. I am tired of being a slave to the issues of my past. Things happened that scarred me in my childhood and in the recent past also. They affected me deeply, and scars never go away. But they fade, and with the right attitude and help from valued people, they fade faster. I have gone through a lot of change this past year, and change is always painful - at least for me it is. Having gone through this change, I see no reason why I should bring the issues of my past lives to this new life. That would be self defeating.

So this new year that is coming is my year. I will continue my program of self improvement. I will continue to let the past go, bury it and not give it any more life. We are the instruments of our own lives, we make our lives what we will. Negative thinking leads to a negative life. Been there, done that, not going there again - or at least when I visit there I'll kick myself in the derrière and get myself out of there! Positive thinking has made such a huge difference to my life, it has brought me things I never thought were possible, it has given me belief in possibilities, and it has allowed me to take the steps to change myself and my life.

2013 seems to have been a difficult time for so many people. We have been forced to make changes in our lives, in my case all the doors were closed to me except the doors which I needed to go through. For someone like me for whom the familiar is comforting and change is frightening, this was the kick start I needed to begin again. And this time not only begin again externally but to start from the inside. Change within brings change to everything.

That's the secret to changing your life. Start with your internal self, that little child inside who needs to have closure and needs reassurance that it will all be ok. Feed emotional support to that internal child, give yourself permission to feel bad about things from the past. Then reassure your internal child that the future will be better, life will improve, pain does not last. Drop that negative thinking, start thinking positively and you will attract positive things. It's as simple, and as difficult as that. But it gets easier if you persist. I can be a very persistent person, just in the past I have persisted in the wrong direction and with the wrong thoughts. Now I am persisting in the right way. Nowhere in any life manual does it say life is supposed to be sad and depressing and difficult. Self belief and positive thinking are my new mantra.

Now to get that tendency for procrastination sorted.... yes I need to write

And just because it's a nice pic, a view of the beach today, which is Boxing Day :)

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