A very unmerry christmas to you, too

It’s that time of year again. Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and the like. I feel the beginnings of each holiday season creep up on me like a slow death that curdles my insides with each carol, festive decoration and heartwarming nativity scene that crosses my path. I hate it. There, I said it. I hate Christmas. I hate the flurry of people swathed in coats and scarves that engulf every public shopping corner, parking lot and restaurant as they hurriedly try to supersede the national debt margin by purchasing every marketable item you can think of. To spread good cheer and all I suppose, Im sure it has nothing to do with overcompensating for personal feelings of inadequacy. 

I know, I sound like a bitter old miser. The kind who has children throwing rocks at her house as they dart past because she imbues misery everywhere she goes. While it may be true that I am, indeed, bitter, Im pretty sure you have to actually have money to hoard before you can be considered a miser.  The bitterness is something I feel I have earned the right to, not that I was trying mind you. For me bitterness forces me to look up the definition of resentment to get the full flavor behind it:

Resent- to feel or show displeasure or indignation at (a person, act, remark,etc.) from a sense of injury or insult.

Yes, I feel injured and insulted and not only indignant over it but QUITE displeased. Throughout my formative teenage years there was such pressure to be comfortable in your own skin; the catch was that people really only wanted to see you be comfortable in the “skin” they thought you should be in. There was so much emphasis, still is, on being able to talk about your problems so you could get help for them. I have found as I’ve gotten older that conundrum is the poisoned apple of offerings, similar to eating rat poison. It doesn’t kill you right away, the toxins have to fully saturate your system to do irreparable damage before you die.

Dramatic? Perhaps.

So is having someone take your newborn from you because you have been openly engaged in therapy to try and sift through the trauma of your childhood and the persistent depression and dissociation (I will explain this better in another blog) that resulted from it. To be publicly ridiculed, judged, and dismissed as unfit because the stigma of mental illness is too pervasive too escape. As long as someone initiates the spark, it is a fire that eradicates everything in its path. In the real world you are guilty until proven innocent, which even then is dependent on how much money, clout and power the attacking party has.

Im a dreamer, a believer in the impossible. An eternal optimist usually. The past year, I don’t know what Ive been. Certainly not those things. As the battle of “whose baby will it be?” has raged on it has been so full of contemptible and manipulative twists and turns that I have found myself in a state of suspended animation. Barely breathing, barely living, consumed with the need to scream the truth and demand my rights back. But you can’t do that in a court of law without being labeled crazy…ER. So I bite my inner cheek, sometimes hard enough to taste my own blood, and I drag myself forward.

You share your most private moments with your significant other; your hopes, dreams and fears. Things from the past you are ashamed of and your darkest thoughts, those words you often whispered at night to the other in the safety of their arms under the shelter of dark. Imagine its those very words, those secret parts of you that no one else has ever seen, that are suddenly and violently exploded into  the public eye. After a few distortions of course and a pinch of perjury, your most personal struggles are now public knowledge. Taaa-daa and presto= You are unacceptable as a mother, lover, friend….human being in general. Knowing that that you were your own undoing all because you loved blindly and with faith is an indescribable anguish. To put it in perspective, picture that you’ve just discovered your house has been burglarized. Completely stripped of anything with value and everything else left in ruins. Destroyed. Everything you owned in the world, all the things that held any meaning to you-gone. As you slowly take in the wreckage that was once your life, your sanctuary, imagine you are told who the culprit was and the sinking horror you feel because you realize

They didn’t break in

They didn’t have to…

you had given them the key to the front door.

So this Christmas, having already been imbedded with sour notes and hollow meanings for me, seems to only amplify what isn’t there. What could have been. The echo of the life I should have had. The truth is that while I sneer at the elaborate decorations and flurry of laughing families, underneath my disdain I am painfully jealous. There is something raw, blackened and mangled residing in my chest that bears little resemblance to the heart I once gave away so trustingly. The frost patterns that decorate the window are as disjointed and fractured looking as I am inside; and just as cold. My fears are different these days, my losses greater. I gaze fixedly towards my future, reaching for it,  and struggle to extricate myself from the past. The smallest slivers of chance have become lifelines of hope for me, I’ll take what I can get. After all, pain, like any sensation, dulls after repeated exposure. And you can’t really hurt someone unless they have feelings, and lucky for me Im fresh out.

Maybe next year I won’t be sad on Christmas


About jacquelinecostlow

I believe in a persons' inherent right to be who they are without fear of judgement, recrimination or discrimination. By sharing my experiences I hope to add one more voice in aiding the fight to dispel myths of mental illness and the stigma that surrounds it. View all posts by jacquelinecostlow

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