Expectations, feelings, The Holidays

My daughter and son-in-law are presently somewhere in Texas (it’s a big state) enroute to their new home and chapter in their life in Florida. She texts me, her brother and sister-in-law every evening when they are done driving for the day. While I am not especially worried about them on this grand adventure, it is nice to know they made it safely to their next waypoint and to follow their progress on the map.

K and G have acquired Christmas sweaters for G’s holiday party. K’s is actually quite cute, with LED lights that flash embedded in it. G’s first choice was stunningly awful, and I need photographic evidence that he actually wore such an terribly gaudy thing – it would be so out of character.

The holiday madness continues for me professionally right now. My private clients, I met one for a drink and consultation on Wednesday night, lunch with another on Thursday, and M and I are attending another large holiday party tonight. The goodies collected thus far have been extremely generous and the lovely baskets have been divided up between various people we know who will enjoy it. At work, I have found that the vendors I have used through the move have been extraordinarily lavish with their gifts. I have done some horse trading with my bosses and seniors, because that seems to be the sport they prefer to engage in and enjoy … as opposed to me just willingly, happily handing them the object of their desire. Consequently, I ended up with even more booze I will give away to others. G and K have several new bottles of wine to try, M’s cooking wine cabinet has a couple of new bottles, and my trainer gets a little boost to his liquor cabinet as well. Coffee seems big this year, and I have a couple of friends who love unusual coffee beans. Any foodstuff I typically leave at the office, but I did get a couple of lovely baskets out of the deal.

Work-work we are in the middle of a couple of big things right now, so I will be spending my rainy Saturday at the office helping out with the workload to keep things moving. After practice, of course. I have my own self-employment work to plow through as well, so it will be a busy weekend.

And now back from the gym, where I had a most satisfying and productive practice. Finally, after a year atop the nemesis list, the cable 1-legged Romanian deadlift is coming together and working without a lot of swearing involved in the effort.

I confess – not feeling especially festive. Not depressed, unhappy, or sad, just not feeling the holiday happy-happy-joy-joy, as if I am falling far short of the holiday feeling expectation. I mean, I have at least my normal level of happy-happy-joy-joy, and maybe a smidge more because there are good things going on around me with people I love, admire, respect, and really, really like. The expectation that comes with the holidays – I theorize it is the root of the problem for so many – the expectations of being happy and grateful that come with the holiday season. Find your family toxic 360+ days per year, yet there is something inside us that says it’s Christmas, and we should all get along. But we don’t. We just don’t. So why set ourselves up for the great disappointment that comes with it? I don’t know. Or have a job that does not pay adequately to overcome the financial challenges yet have this strong, strong desire to spend, spend, spend on gifts for the nearest and dearest that will make them happy, and us as well while the spending/gifting high lasts. Then the crushing reality of additional debt or reverse progress on savings goals and the anguish and disappointment that comes with that.

Those are just a couple examples of holiday blues scenarios I have coped with over the years. Happily for me, I have slowly weaned and trained myself out of such things, but I feel the sadness of others around me and so powerless to help or even comfort them. So I am am going to restrain myself and cease even trying. I wish I had more empathy or capacity for understanding, but if someone is sad and wants to be left alone with their sadness or somehow gives off a vibe of that, I will stop reaching out. The worst part for me? I do not feel worse about it; I have reached a point of acceptance that there is nothing I can do and listening is so inadequate in this situation. Hence my absolute sureness that I am a lousy candidate for coach of any stripe. Everything in me wants people to help themselves, and intellectually I completely understand that sometimes helping ourselves is nearly impossible. Perhaps if I had better training and tools in my toolbox I would feel differently. But as a friend, my ability to understand and cope is severely constrained.

C suffers from both depression and anxiety. K suffers from anxiety. Friend J is coping with recovery from a debilitating illness that has taken so much of his strength and endurance. Others in my life too numerous to call out individually here. I have concerns about each of them, and my deepest, darkest fear is that I will fail them when they need me most for my lack of training or ability to be there for them in a moment of genuine need. With all my close friendships, that there is always the possibility of some critical component I am missing that will let them down in the clutch.

Sometimes I fear being a nice enough, good enough, smart enough person is inadequate. I fear my own inadequacy on so many levels.

So I try very hard to build my strength in the ways I can right now. Whether it’s the zen of exercise or the curious mind that is reading anything and everything related my interests as well as just managing our lives in the times we are living in, I am conscious of trying to learn and to build some reserves and some strength. I wish to be more courageous and brave, not quaking on the inside while fighting the impulse to cower and run away on the outside.

The holidays are different for each of us, and I believe difficult for many. Maybe if I could completely disable my give-a-shit switch I would be better, but unfortunately it’s a dimmer switch and only goes dim to bright to blinding, never off. Le sigh. Me and my first world problems, I know.

I am working hard, because I do want to feel completely confident I am enough. The march forward is littered with stalled attempts and learning experience experiments, but it’s also cluttered with many small successes the push me ever forward. From just getting through the holidays to coping with the unexpected discomforts that inevitably crop up in life, this is a war I will win. Eventually.

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