Let’s face it: holidays can be exhausting.
With the shopping, cooking, crowds, family, friends, parties, cleaning, gifts, school functions, school vacations, travel, making (or who are we kidding…buying) cookies, trying not to eat all the cookies, AND doctor appointments, it can all add up before the holidays even start, and is enough to make someone who doesn’t have a chronic illness a little batty.
This stress can leave us cranky, depressed, and it can make our pain worse.
We also make the stress worse by isolating ourselves.
When I was in the middle of my TMJ surgeries, I actively isolated myself from my family during the holidays.
Notice the word choice there – *I* actively isolated *myself.* I thought that no one would want to hang out with me, eating my soft food, watching me drool when I did try to eat. I imagined that people would ask weird questions about my swelling, make rude comments when I needed to take a nap instead of partying like I did when I was younger, or give me a hard time for taking medicine and sitting with my heating pad.
It makes me really sad to write this, but I lived without holidays for several years.
Two years ago, I decided to test my fears and try the holidays again.
I started small – with Thanksgiving.
This time, I was an active participant, and asked for what I needed to make the holidays successful for me.
One particular story from my first Thanksgiving “back” sticks out for me… I remember walking downstairs to the kitchen to help with dinner, but was informed that everything had already been taken care of – and all I needed to do was hang out on the couch and talk with friends and family. When dinner was ready, I walked into the kitchen and asked my Mom – which of the items can I eat? I was expecting one or two things that were soft and gluten free (since I have a gluten intolerance).
I was really touched by the answer: I could eat EVERYTHING. Everything at the table was soft and gluten free.
She had made everything herself – from the gravy, to the bread and the pumpkin pie for desert, gluten free..just for me. I looked
around at my family, who was happily filling their plates with gluten free, soft food. We all sat down, and no one grimaced when we talked about how everything was gluten free. Instead, they were just happy I was there and that I could enjoy a holiday meal with them.
It taught me a lot about myself, my family, and the holidays.
Mostly it taught me that this isn’t about THEM. It was about ME.
Before, I was unable to ask for what I needed (soft food, gluten free options). I wasn’t confident that I would be accepted. I chose isolation over love. I chose sadness over joy. I chose to believe a story about my family that I had made up!
My new approach to the holidays showed me….
It showed me that this is not about them (family, friends, significant other)… this is about ME.
Your family wants their family together during the holidays… your friends, too. Your kids, they just want you to be present and could care less if dinner has a lot of soft foods in it. And frankly, all I cared about as a kid was when I would be able to move up to the adult table and leave the kids table behind.
Most importantly, I learned that I was in control of my own experience!
If I let it, I could even experience the very things I thought couldn’t exist for me anymore — amazing meals with friends and family, game night after dinner, giving homemade gifts, and even watching football (or falling asleep while watching football).
The holidays aren’t about the food, the presents, whether your decorations are martha stewart magazine worthy, or if your house can pass the white glove test…..
The holidays are about togetherness, laughter, gratitude, and love. All of which we desperately need as humans and especially as chronic pain sufferers.
Sorry, Registration is Over!
- How I switched my mindset for the holiday season (no, I didn’t “just get over it”)
- 3 essential questions to ask your healthcare team before the holiday season so you aren’t left in pain without their help.
- Fun, easy ways for family and friends to get involved (so you aren’t doing everything!).
- Exactly what to say when your cousin says, “yeah, my brother’s girlfriend’s sister had that and she’s just fine.”
- Exciting, interesting, delicious ways to turn boring holiday meals into the event your family can’t stop talking about all year!
- What to do (and say) when someone is judgmental about your treatment, pain medication, or boundaries.
- Soft, yummy recipes!
- How to stop over-promising and start taking care of yourself *before* your flare-up hits.
Whether you participate in this class or not, please don’t let your pain stand in the way of a great holiday season. I spent many years isolating myself and losing time with my loved ones. I wish I would have known sooner that reconnecting with my family and friends, and having a fun, restful, quiet, loving holiday was possible for me.
I wish you hope, peace, and joy this holiday season.
Your questions, answered….
Q.I'm already busy during the holidays, I'm not sure I can add 1 more thing...
A.Honestly, that’s just a huge reason to participate in this class. The busier and more stressed you are, the more likely it is that your pain will increase during the holidays. That being said, the class doesn’t take a lot of time, and I’ve purposely scheduled it to begin (& finish) before the real madness starts. Also, the FB group is an available resource for you to receive support, but is not mandatory. This class was created with our busy pre-holiday lives in mind, and I promise it won’t be overwhelming.
Q.Why is the class so affordable?
A.I had a community member ask me why the class is so affordable, since there is a lot included. The answer to this is really simple. I spent SO long completely isolating myself and not getting what I needed during the holidays. I want this to be a no-brainer for you. My thought is that we spend more than $27 every week on stuff we don’t even need – so why not forgo a couple lattes or a fast food lunch and instead invest in helping yourself feel better?