|photo by Jennifer Upton|
Today is Thanksgiving. Happy day!
I mean . . . it is happy, right?
Well, in theory.
A day off from work and school, gathering with loved ones, delicious food enjoyed together, and a host of other holiday traditions to relish? That should be amazing. And for a lot of folks, it is amazing.
But there are some of us for whom the holidays are a less than happy time.
For me, the holiday season, and particularly Thanksgiving, has been hard for all of my adult life. Painful family dynamics, pressure to eat copiously and decadently, and my eating disordered history combine to create the perfect storm of anxiety and general miserableness. I tend to spend the majority of November fighting off triggers, resisting the urge to binge or restrict or overexercise. I make it through Thanksgiving with clenched fists and teeth -- only to have to do it all over again one month later when Christmas rolls around.
And that's before factoring in the painful truth that my daughter died and was born four days before gathering around the Thanksgiving dinner table two years ago.
It is something of an understatement to say that I do not look forward to the holidays.
And -- I know that I'm not alone. That I am far from being the only one who dreads the holidays, whose dinner table is missing a much-loved person, who cannot stomach the culturally-approved gluttonous consumption of food and things, whose stomach is knotted up in anticipation of seeing that person or being in that place or faced with those memories.
Maybe you are one of those who greet the holidays with rather less relish than others. Maybe you are estranged from your family and will be spending the holidays alone. Maybe you have no food or money and will count yourself lucky to survive until January, much less enjoy any sort of holiday meals. Maybe your faith is feeling threadbare and you have no church or temple or sacred place to welcome your heart.
If the holiday season fills you with a deep ache rather than a deep joy, then this series is for you.
Starting today and running through the end of December, I am hosting a series here on the blog called Hurting for the Holidays. I am honored to have twenty-six amazing guest writers from many different walks of life sharing their hearts, hurts, and helps with us.
I feel so grateful that we can honor our griefs and pains together this holiday season instead of letting our tender, wounded places throb on in silence, alone. Let us link arms and hold one another's brittle-feeling bones upright. Let us stand in respect for these wounds that are breaking us open to (dare I say it?) a better way of being. Let us not ignore how crushing this time of year can feel to ourselves or others. Let us come together in love and with grace. Find all of the Hurting for the Holidays posts here, and contribute via social media through the hashtag #HurtingfortheHolidays.
Are you hurting this holiday season? I would be honored to read your ache's story. Leave a few (or a lot of) words in the comments. This space is for you, friend.