Thursday, November 27, 2008

Confessing about the holidays

Most of us find holidays difficult. I'm no exception. Ever since the beginning of my eating disorder, I looked at any holiday drastically differently. It's become more of a going through the emotions feeling than real enjoyment. Besides the fear of foods, chaos, and stress that seems to come with the territory of holidays, there is a feeling of guilt for me.

This is mostly attributed to the fact that it somehow feels
wrong to spend the holidays alone, and certainly I would tell someone that they should be with the people they love. I mean that is what the holiday spirit is supposed to be about.

Since college in which I went "home" for Thanksgiving and/or Christmas, I hardly do now. My father asks me every year to come, and honestly, I guess you could say I make the excuse not to come or don't make enough of an effort. Some of this really is logistical reasons--distance, taking care of pets, and working. I know it saddens both my parents since I really have not spent the holidays with them, meaning specifically Thanksgiving day or Christmas day for the last six or so years.

When they each call on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, they always ask what I will be doing. And for most of those times, I tell them I'm going to so and so's house just so they think I'm not spending it alone. There have been a few times where I went to another person's house or volunteered somewhere, but in actuality, I've spent the holidays alone. Usually, I treat it like just another day, though I do have a tendency to make holiday foods for myself or bake something special. Even though I've gotten used to this(or maybe I've just convinced myself of that), for some reason, this makes me feel like an awful person. Even the times when I've mentioned it to people that I did not go "home" for the holidays, there is a look of "why not, you should be with your family," And it leaves me feeling in an awkward place, like somehow people feel sad for me or that I'm some horrible person since other people do not even have families or friends to share the holidays.

What I really want to tell people who ask why I don't visit family at the holidays is that they don't understand--that there are issues between my family and me, anxiety over the food, that my father will get on my case, that the holidays will be ruined because of me, etc.--all of which have happened. These issues also surface whenever my parents are visiting anyway, but it just feels so much more
heightened right at the holiday, a time when things are supposed to be festive, happy, residual feelings of the past put aside. And then I think, what makes me different? Many people go through similar situations, how come I feel like I can't handle it? That leaves me feeling even worse. It's like some stupid perpetual cycle inside my head.

:sigh: I don't know where this post is going. I guess in this moment I'm just feeling out of the norm and blaise about myself, because I feel like I can't really be honest as it would just hurt the people who I know care deeply about me.

It is my hope that one day I can feel better about the holidays and remind myself that there are joys which can encompass them.


Anonymous said...

Aww Tiptoe, don't worry you aren't the only one. I've missed loads of xmas's with my family. The past two years I have bowed out of going to stay with my folks, but have been more honest about it. Distance and hassle yes, but food (BIG thing in their house) and family issues being the main cause. Even they said this year that I should probably not attend. Not in a mean way, just they realise it is not an ideal situation for someone so hung up on food stress.
I guess I am lucky to have my brother about, but if he was otherwise engaged i'd be doing the by myself thing as well. Holidays do sort of lose meaning when the food and family become too stressful.

Lola x

Tiptoe said...

Lola, thanks. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one but feel for you in that it is so difficult. I hope you are able to spend a nice holiday with your brother.

DaftDragon said...

Hey there,
Hello from Chicago : ) I am new to your blog, but I definitely feel this post. I still go home for the Holidays (Just a kiddo, only 20), but I can understand why someone with ED wouldn't. My Mom has issues with her family, and this Thanksgiving, for the first time, she got the couage to take her immediate family far away from her parents. She felt guilty at first, but today we are so relaxed.

What I mean is, think of your bowing out of Holidays as taking care of YOU. That is an ultimately important thing, and you don't need to feel guilty about doing what you need to to treat yourself well.

Sending good karma!

Tiptoe said...

Daftdragon, thank you for your thoughts and reminding me that this could be a good thing in taking care of myself. I think sometimes I get stuck in the guilty feeling mode and that I'm just disappointing everyone.

Glad to hear everyone is now relaxed as that makes for a better holiday.

Kyla said...

I would NEVER blame you for not going home for the holidays. It's okay. Take care of yourself. When you're ready, you might go, if it feels right.

Tiptoe said...

Kyla, thanks so much. You're a sweetheart. :-)