I’m a pretty happy person. I don’t really have much to complain about other than the occasional traffic issue or drama-of-a-friend which, truthfully, isn’t actually mine but more a sort of drama that I have adopted as my own. I do that a lot. I’m not sure why.
My happiness is only heightened when holidays come along. I am completely and absolutely in love with every single Christmas-Carol-Hallmark-Movie-scenario that comes with this time of year. I barely mind the long lines of Christmas, knowing that my wait is spent in service of providing a thoughtful gift of a special surprise for someone that I care about. Overall, the holidays make me giddy. I’m really fortunate. And for the past 33 years of my life, I have blissfully, if not ignorantly, enjoyed it.
This year, however, I feel different. The past year of my life, while being one of the most soul-renovating I’ve ever experienced, has opened my eyes to the unseen pain that so many people face. I’ve observed this in so many different forms: The way that conversations and interactions can absolutely devastate. The way that so many people wake up sad, go to work sad, drive home sad, eat dinner sad, and go to bed sad. The way that lack of recognition in a working setting can leave people feeling unseen and alone. I’ve seen this in kids and adults alike, and it’s made me really rethink the status of my own happiness.
The holidays, while beautiful and full of wonder for some, are the most painful time of the year for others. Where I experience memories made and excitement, others experience missed expectations and anxiety. Where I experience time with family and sweet moments with those that I love, others feel complete loss and loneliness.
In observing this, I began to think: While my happiness cannot and should not be ignored and stifled, what could I be doing to show others love and support? How can I create space for holiday-induced pain while still celebrating my lack of pain?
I’ve been thinking about this for months, and I want to help in the best way that I know how. I won’t say that I have a solution- I think one of the most hurtful things that we can do for those in pain is assume that we hold the solution- the cure- for their despair.
We do not hold solutions or cures. We don’t hold answers for people who experience things that we have never felt. We don’t hold “feel better moments” for people simply because we say we do. But what we hold is powerful. Important. Needed. Overlooked. We hold the power of acknowledgment.
I acknowledge that you are in pain, and I acknowledge that I do not have the answer to that pain, but I will sit next to you and hold your hand and say nice things. Or I will sit next to you and not even touch you, and say nothing at all. But I will sit. And I will make space for your pain. And while I will not carry the pain that you have, I will do my best to make sure that when you are with me, you experience rest- whatever that may look like.
I’m not an expert at this. I’m not licensed and I’m not experienced. Actually, I’m fairly new at it- new at the idea that support often comes in the form of just silently showing up. It’s really that simple, and for years I have overcomplicated it, putting my own expectations on what I think should happen when I “support” someone who needs it.
I’m not an expert. But I’m willing to try.
With all of this in mind, and the opportunity that I feel has presented itself for me to love the people in my life who have a hard time feeling or accepting that love, I wanted to do what I can do: write.
So, starting this Friday and repeating every Friday until Christmas, I will be releasing blogs that are part of what I call The Holiday Pain Series. I will be writing about 4 different pain experiences that people feel over the holiday season. I will be doing my very best to represent the people who feel these emotions.
I’m not perfect. But I’m willing to try.
My goal for this is two things: to bring awareness to those of us who live in unmitigated bliss that hey, not everyone lives like this. And to bring acknowledgment- silent acknowledgment- to the people that live with the constant, silent pain that I have been blind to for years.
I want these blogs to be helpful to both parties and will write from the deepest, most sincere place that I know. What I want, more than anything, is really just to bring us all into a place of empathy for those around us. I have been working to live in a place that says, “I don’t understand this, and I don’t know this, but I know you. And I am here for you.”
The Holiday Pain Series.
I thought maybe I should think of a more clever name for it, but then I realized that I would be doing that for clicks, not for clarity. I would be doing that for me, not you.
You. Whoever you are that needs this. Whoever you are that dreads the holidays because of everything that it’s not. You, who wishes somebody would sit next to you and just be present.
I will not treat you like you are broken, because you are not broken.
I will not treat you like you are damaged, because you are not damaged.
I will treat you with the utmost care and love that I know. And if I’m not doing it right, I want you to tell me how I can be better.
I hope my words are present to you. I hope, through acknowledgment, that you can feel a level rest. And if you are someone who loves a human who is in pain, I hope these blogs will bring you peace as well.
Humans. That’s what we are. We are all humans, trying our best to exist. Let’s help each other wherever and however we can.
I love you.