Pen and Moon

blogging, books & poetry from the writing nook of Theresa Jarosz Alberti

Happy Sadsgiving…

I am trying to make sense of this, the deep feelings that come over me directly after a holiday. It might be when driving home from somewhere else, or when the door closes at my house after the flurry of goodbyes and coats and hugs. The sudden quiet, the change in energy… I find myself sucked into a vortex of sadness settling into my chest, an emptiness, loneliness. I find myself asking, Why?

Often, I will have had a good time celebrating the day. Even though I’m a quiet person, I’m more of an extrovert and love socializing. I have family. We have delicious feasts. But it often all ends too soon for me, with people rushing off, as people do in their busy lives. I find myself longing for more — more connection, more laughter, more time spent together. Is this all there is?, I wonder. 

Maybe I’m looking for more than any special day can give. Maybe I’m hoping to fill some empty, desolate places inside me. I used to do this with food when I was deeply entrenched in my eating disorder. I wanted the food to be special and make me feel Wonderfully Good. But it never really “worked,” except to numb me out. It’s just food, fuel, flavors, I’d realize. Not magic.

The holidays DO promise magic. They are heightened times of feelings and expectations, something special and out-of-the-ordinary, with advertising campaigns galore. The sad little kid in me wants to believe in it all, and really, what can live up to it? When it’s over, we are just left with ourselves once again.

My friend Serena has spent most of her holidays alone for quite awhile. She says, “I get bummed out around the holidays too. You are not alone! My expectations are now very very very very very very very very low. Even so, i find myself missing the small parts of my life that held good moments. I am working on feeling thankful for them. And I do feel thankful.”

Gratitude is such a powerful tool in living a better life, one that I forget too often. It is a perspectives-shift, and a way to rewrite the stories in our lives. When I think of all that I have to be grateful for just around the holidays, something softens in me. I do have so much to be grateful for.

And yet, this sadness. I don’t think you can just gratitude-away your emotional process. I may not entirely understand where my own lonely-emptiness is coming from, and maybe I don’t need to. Maybe I can’t stop the feelings or shouldn’t even try to. Feelings are there for a reason and I’ve come to believe it’s good to acknowledge them, give them space.

But I am thinking maybe I can plan for them, in some way, around the holidays, to know they are likely going to show up, the possible probability of the sadness, the emptiness. Maybe then I can seek ways to nurture and comfort myself when they do come, a list of ideas, things I can do that might help remind me that I’m on my own side. And then, if the feelings come, I can help myself through them.

This is what I’m thinking about after Thanksgiving, a perfectly lovely holiday that I still felt sad after celebrating. Maybe these ideas will help me as we go into the bigger guns of Christmas and New Year’s. I will do some experiments!

How about you — do you feel blue after holidays? How do you deal with it?  What helps for you?

 

[Photos courtesy of Eric-Ward-4554 and Jez-Timms-468 of Unsplash.com, and me. And thanks to my friend Serena for her words!]

4 Comments

  1. Ah yes, the introverts are glad when it’s all over; but we extraverts are bummed out. I’ve had similar experiences during all my growing up. years. People always came to our house, not just for holidays. And I always had that sad feeling when the visits ended. As time has gone by I have spent birthdays and holidays pretty much alone, except for my son. Sometimes I’ve gone back to NY to visit with my family or my sisters. But I think what happened was I got used to spending these times alone and the sadness went away. I just learned to enjoy the time spent with people and not focus on the alone times. Somehow that all got switched around where now I got invites to celebrate Thanksgiving, the Wednesday before, two on the day and one today, Sunday. Plus at a friend’s house, her friend was not celebrating because her husband was working so they invited us over there for Friday. So here’s what I would do. Plan something for the day after the holiday with friends and/or family. Or even something you really want to do by yourself . Or even for the weekend or week around a holiday. Then the focus is not on that specific day. You will find yourself looking forward to whatever it is you have planned. Then when the holiday ends you still have those connections.

  2. Really heartfelt topic here…one that I think affects so many people. And there is often such a stigma attached to admitting that, but it’s so common that I think more people would feel a lot less disconnected if there was more openness about this topic. My own holiday blues typically happen before the holiday rather than post holiday in those times when it finds a way to the surface. I think it stems from having such meaningful holidays as a child growing up, but then feeling rather put off by consumerism and how much that takes over our holiday time in this culture. So I purposely distance myself from it which means I miss some aspects of the season as a result.
    Thanks for sharing your truth. Writing can be such a healing balm…
    Peace and sincere greetings for the upcoming season…xo

    • It’s yet another thing that affects so many people and yet we all feel alone with it! I’m sorry you have blues as well. I think there are ways to connect with others in a way that doesn’t play into the consumerism, though I know it’s tough when it is everywhere. Thanks for sharing, and let’s stay in touch this holiday season!

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