In the past week, I’ve found myself feeling terribly uncomfortable in conversations that turn to the holidays. Everyone goes around, shares their holiday plans that usually involve family and/or friends and maybe travel, and when it comes to me, I want to hide under the closest rock. I try to give an innocuous answer: “Oh, it’s just my mom and me” or “My mom and I have some plans” or something similar while inside I’m ashamed that my mom and I haven’t been invited to holiday celebrations with family for a long time, not that I want to celebrate with them.
During a meeting today, everyone went around sharing what they did during the weekend and all I could think about was the small amount of sleep I’ve been getting, the family car breaking down, the plethora of doctor appointments my mom has had, the moments when my mom is crying and I’m trying to soothe her, while inside all I want to do is absolutely fall apart and cry myself. It’s not been a good week, with issue after issue piling on top of what was merely an unfortunate situation that had been working itself. Honestly, I’m impressed that I haven’t broken down, though I’ve come close a few times. Everyone started talking about Thanksgiving plans and my chest grew tight in fear of being called on. I’ve only had one panic attack in my life, which was during the holiday season, and upon reflection, I’m pretty sure my tightening chest this morning was the beginning of a panic attack.
I don’t think anyone I talk to truly understands my situation. I’ve told a few people about what’s been going on and they pretty much say the same thing: I have to take care of myself and my mom can’t always depend on me. I know they mean well, but they don’t understand that my mom can’t depend on her family and I want to help her because I would never forgive myself if I didn’t and because I love her. There is no familial support whatsoever, I’m an only child, and my mother has never married. I’m doing the best I can and taking what scraps of time I can find to administer self-care and I just want someone to listen, not give advice (unless I ask for it), I just want someone to really understand why the holidays are so difficult and why this role-reversal of me becoming the caretaker in many ways is overwhelming and terrifying, but that I’m more than willing to do it.
I want someone to tell me that it’s okay that I’m quietly staying away from holiday talk, that it’s more important for me to maintain my emotional wellbeing. I want someone to acknowledge how the holidays can be emotionally devastating for someone with just one parent, especially when their family is not in the picture and no friends are inviting them to celebrations. I want someone to know that I don’t hate the holidays, I love them and celebrated them when I was younger, but right now the holidays make me more sad than anything, but I look forward to the day when the holidays once again are happy and full of family and love.
Sometimes I just wonder if I’ll ever feel normal.