It’s the season to be… haggard and stressed. I am not feeling jolly – at all.
Christmas and the end of 2019, is rushing toward me at a disconcerting speed. December has caught me off guard and now anxiety has a grip on me. I struggle to switch off at night. I forget to make lunch. I catch myself staring vacantly into nothing – my son standing next to me, wondering if he should phone his dad. But mostly, I hold my breath.
I don’t consciously choose to do intermittent breathing and obviously this doesn’t help me function better. A lack of oxygen to my brain may be the very reason for all the vacant staring and forgetfulness.
Why, I ask myself, why do I feel so stressed? We don’t even really celebrate Christmas. We have lunch with my parents or in-laws and exchange small gifts. There is no full on Christmas mode. We do not decorate or have any special traditions.
In South Africa, where I live, it is now summer and the summer holidays. The schools are closed for the holidays and most people are looking forward to spending time with family. I did say most people, but not all people. I do not look forward to spending time with my extended family on a hot, sweaty day in Africa. I will be doing intermittent breathing all day.
I actually do know why my oxygen count falls this time of the year. Maybe if the decorations and traditions were my triggers, I could plan and do something about it. People aren’t so easily managed. My mind runs all the possible scenarios of what could happen on Christmas day and then I try to plan contingencies to get the best possible outcome.
My deepest wish for my family is to love one another unconditionally and authentically. That will probably not happen. The next best thing is to not have an “incident” when we choose to be in the same space. I’ve always felt responsible to keep everyone happy, to lighten the mood, to diffuse the tension. Well, I’m done.
I will focus on my children, especially my nine year old. The other two and my husband can fend for themselves. I will not be the jam that keeps this sandwich together. And I will remember to breathe.