Everything Changed

Post-Holiday-Depression-Zack-Ahern

I’ve always loved the holidays – the lights, the gifts, the music, the television specials, the anticipation! And I still love all those things, but a confluence of several factors including my divorce and the death of my dad have changed things. There is an empty place in my heart.

The holidays are supposed to be a time for joyful gatherings. But I always feel like a giant zit under a magnifying glass when I’m alone there these days. I rarely feel self-conscious, but inevitably I do at holiday parties.

I feel it particularly strongly at family gatherings. Except for my widowed mother and grandmother, I’m the only one not coupled up and the only adult without kids. It makes me feel like Forrest Gump at the Black Panther party, and like I screwed up all the things you’re supposed to be and do as a grown-up. Here I am, 46 years old and alone at the holidays without any “family.” And it’s my fault for quitting and walking away from my marriage because I thought I could find something better.

Disney and Hallmark and all the others have conspired to make me believe in happy endings, in love stories, in holiday magic. I have daydreamed countless scenarios where my magical holiday ending finally happens. My imaginary stories are so romantic, full of kisses and Christmas lights and love!

But a life’s true story isn’t wrapped up tightly in a bow after two hours. There are very few happy endings. And there are many, many sad and lonely people.

Every year at the holidays, I swear this time will be different. I’m going to beat the holiday blues. I’m going to love myself. I will be enough. I’ll have more gratitude. I will find joy.

I will not have a prolonged anxiety attack from Thanksgiving Eve through Christmas Eve.

So far on night one of the countdown, I’m not starting out too well…

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3 responses to “Everything Changed”

  1. Kelly says :

    Being aware of your insecurities around the holidays and having insight to know when you feel it the most is the first step to tackling the beast. Being prepared for the surge of anxiety and trying to take it slow is the best thing you can do for yourself. Get involved in a holiday ministry that brings meaning. Adopt an old person from a nursing home for Christmas. Bake something delicious for church staff as a thank you. For me, I know that getting out of my head and doing for others is just about one of the best things I can do to restore my thinking to a relatively normal state. Know that it’s okay to feel sad and lonely… it’s unhealthy to MAKE yourself happy or punish yourself for being blue. Just try not to wallow. 🙂 Know that so many people love and care about you. Family is who you form… from funky coworkers who “get you”, to your exhusband’s-brother’s-exwife’s-daughter. ❤

  2. dmcco01 says :

    Thank you, Kelly! 🙂

  3. Thomas Jones says :

    It’s a difficult time of year in so many ways! Regarding the failure of your marriage, try not to be so hard on yourself. I remain married, but can assure you that this fact doesn’t lessen my sense of loneliness, isolation, and alienation. At least take solace in the fact that your blogging reaches others in circumstances not unlike your own. You are sharing with others. That in itself is commendable.

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