I’m not talking about the alcohol kind of hangover. Or the sugar crash, or the sluggish feeling from all the heavy, processed foods. This is more of an emotional hangover. And I’m not sure why it has happened again, but it has.
The holiday season of 2017 is a blur. I was so numb, so sad, so overwhelmed and I just wanted it to be over. Gone were my dreams of having our first Christmas season with not just one baby, but two. It was one of the very first things I looked forward to when I found out I was pregnant. “When will they be born, oh by October. That means we’ll have babies at Christmas.” My heart exploded at the excitement. And now I’m still trying to come to a place of acceptance, they are not here, and they are not going to be, and it’s so, so hard.
This most recent holiday season, I felt better coming into it. I had a little bit of pep in my step. I looked at everything that had happened in 2018 and I was feeling good about the year ending with a fresh start on the horizon. And then, again, it hit. I don’t know what to call it. Holiday dread? Holiday sadness? Seasonal sadness? Whatever it is, it just plain sucks. What it feels like, is I just want to stay at home. I don’t want to go anywhere or do anything. I don’t want to see anyone unless they completely get what I am going through and unless they can sit in it with me. And that’s hard, because there is only one person who can truly be there for me like that, and that’s my husband. Even then, our experiences are parallel, and not exactly the same.
I didn’t want to attend any parties or events, or family gatherings. And family reading this may not understand and that’s ok, I don’t expect them to. It’s impossible to understand a pain you have never experienced. For whatever reason, the holiday dread was real this year. And since it snuck up on me, I wasn’t prepared and it stopped me in my tracks. Instead of using my tools and resources, I just ended up wallowing in it. And in some way, I still am.
Emotions are exhausting, especially heavy emotions. They rip the vitality right out of you. It’s all I can do to survive on a day when I feel taken down by my emotions, to just get out of bed and go through the motions. There’s not much bandwidth for anything else. Not even for self care that could possibly help. Maybe a bath, maybe a walk, maybe a few minutes of yoga. They might feel ok in the moment, but I’ve noticed that one those really gut wrenching days, they’re mostly just distractions. All I can do is sit in it and feel.
So the overwhelm of all the exhausting emotions during the holidays has left me with an emotional hangover. It’s still lingering. And I believe it’s continuing to linger because 1-it needs to and 2-I’m allowing it to. I’m not trying to tell myself to get over it. I want to feel better, I really do. I’d invite in any feeling but the feelings of sadness that stops me in my tracks. Yet it’s here. So that means it’s time to sit with it, be with it, and find out what I can do to survive within it. That’s where the practice comes in. It’s hard. It hurts. It’s exhausting. And it’s necessary, because all I desire is to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Even if it’s 2 steps forward and 3 steps back. I just want to keep moving. Healing isn’t linear, it’s going to be a mess of scraggly lines and sharp edges. It’s important to me to honor what comes and to just keep moving. So literally, that’s what I’m doing. I’ve been exercising a bit more and it helps. I’m cooking meals I enjoy and it helps. I try to find one tiny moment of fulfillment or joy, and it helps. Yes it’s fleeting, but it also helps.
I don’t know how long this holiday hangover will last. I think it’s being compounded because of what happened with my cat Zoey in December, and because of the hormones I’m taking for the fertility treatments we have started to undergo. And yes, we started those just before the holidays. I didn’t want to, and then all of a sudden I got tired of waiting, and felt ready. Of course I wasn’t fully ready, I don’t think we’ll ever be. But again, I just wanted to start taking some steps. They may not be in the right direction, but moving in any direction feels better than sitting still.
Can my hangover be cured? I’m not sure. Slowly I believe the ache will fade. I was really looking forward to January, and now that it’s here, I’m trying to make it work for me. I’m slowly letting go of anything that I find triggering, anything that is not serving me 100%. I don’t always know what is not serving me until it feels overwhelming and too much, and that’s ok. I can still let go anytime I need to. Just giving myself that permission to put me and my family first feels so freeing and that feels fulfilling in and of itself. I don’t need anyone to understand, and I don’t expect them to. Most days I don’t even understand this journey myself.
If you find yourself in a holiday hangover, or with a new year’s hangover, or with a something hangover this time of year, be gentle with yourself. Do less. Rest more. Spend time doing what you truly enjoy, or spend time binge watching tv or a movie that will completely distract you. Take time to just be. Enjoy the stillness of winter, the quiet of the crisp leafless rows of trees, the steady rhythm of the rain or the softness of the snow. I believe nature tries to show us what we need all along. To me winter’s message is, this too will pass. Ahhhh, I feel better already.
Thanks for reading as I process my emotions and experiences out loud. I appreciate you being on this journey with me. Although we all have our own realities, they mirror each other more than we realize. Different situations still bring on similar feelings, and I believe because of that, we can start to recognize our similarities and hold more empathy for each other. It might even be the only way.