When the Holidays Aren't Joyous
anonymous Asks ...
I don’t know what to do and I am worried that no one understands how bad I feel. I am maxed out on all my 4 credit cards and I am still not done my shopping. This sounds like normal holiday stress I know but I am losing sleep over this and I can’t shake off this feeling of dread no matter how many gifts I get. My inlaws make a very big deal of Christmas and there is a big list of people I need to buy for. We have good jobs so we are expected to give lots of expensive gifts but we are actually having financial problems that we do not want to talk about and my husband and I are having some problems. His is the kind of family where you have to pretend that everything is OK even when your world is falling down on you. I think I am having mini panic attacks whenever I think about this because my heart starts pounding and I can feel my neck vein throbbing in a scary way. I know rationally that I can get through this and by February all will be OK but I am at the end of myself right now. I can’t sleep, can’t eat and I feel like I am losing my mind.
Jim LaPierre Says ...
Hi there and thank you for writing. My heart goes out to you for what you're experiencing - my first thought was, "Good God, does this happen every year?" I encourage you to step back when all of this is over (early January) and ask yourself, "Am I willing to go through that again?" I understand pretending and I know that it takes a lot out of us. I encourage folks to be genuine, to make hard decisions, because otherwise life is a series of things we just need to get through.
To lower your anxiety - consider this - you're angry. Anyone would be. The demands are unhealthy and you resent them. Just as addiction and mental illness can make a person's life unmanageable, so too can unreasonable demands of family.
I hope you find joy in the season in spite of all of this and I hope you choose to care more for you.