In the past, I have experienced a lot of trauma directly related to holidays. As a child, my father would throw these epic temper tantrums, because he really wasn’t interested in participating in them. He didn’t want to go out, and he was hell bent on making everyone pay for forcing him into it.
That, in turn, had some serious effects on the family. My mother would get into a frenzy and suffer from terrible anxiety prior to each holiday. On the day of the holiday, she would frantically try to get everything together and do as much damage control as possible.
My brother, who has autism, would pick up on this and throw temper tantrums of his own. He also has the OCD component involved with some forms of autism, so things would have to be absolutely perfect. If they weren’t, all hell would break loose.
Then, we would arrive at the homes of our family members. They were just as stressed out as our own family, and always in plainly terrible moods.
The holidays season was usually a complete disaster for my entire family. We were pretty poor while I was growing up. There was the business of buying a complete Thanksgiving dinner, despite the fact that we would dine at my overly crowded aunt’s house anyway. It was at my brother’s demand. Then, there was the obvious inconvenience to my mother for cooking a Thanksgiving dinner when she absolutely despises cooking.
Rinse and repeat for Christmas. However, with Christmas, there was the overwhelming burden of buying Christmas presents on a very limited budget. As much as I can fault my parents for things, when I was a kid, they really did their best to not disappoint us on Christmas. However, the stress of it all saturated the air around me. The mood that hung around me was charged and dark. And I picked up on all of it.
As I grew into a young adult, Thanksgivings and Christmases became disappointing and tedious. Presents became fewer, and my parents became almost resentful toward me for having to buy me presents once I was an adult. I was still obligated to participate with a smile on my face, even though I carried all of the bad memories of fighting in the car and vicious attacks from my brother.
My husband and I married, and just before our first Christmas as a family, he was laid off. We were scraping by with a newborn son. It was probably the most disappointing Christmas of all, when we basically had to ask our family for handouts, just so we could get by until the New Year. It was just more likely that Xan would be able to be hired in a new job in January.
That was the Christmas the broke me entirely when it came to the holiday season. I had few fond memories of Christmas to draw from. The ones in the recent past had been so gloomy. Everything about it was depressing, and there was hardly a reason to look forward to it.
Instead of loathing the holiday season this year, I decided to start a project called The 12 Days of Thanks. This year, I would like to focus on all of the positives. And I want to practice expressing gratitude for all of the wonderful things in my life.
Today, for my first installment of my series, The 12 Days of Thanks, I want to give thanks for wellness. Both in body, mind, and wellness in those in my family.
I have had some serious health problems in my life. In addition to having a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder, I suffer from somatic health problems. They are all relatively minor. I have been plagued with asthma and allergies my entire life, causing me difficulty with breathing and recurring bronchitis most times I get sick with something minor. I suffer from “knock-knee”, which caused me to develop tendinitis Every time the weather changes, my knees ache and swell. Throughout the years, I have developed prediabetes and developing heart disease, mostly related to a combination of bad genetics and weight.
But, worst of all, I battled cervical cancer for four years of my life. Thankfully, my case of cervical cancer didn’t require me to undergo the usual methods of treating cancer. However, it did cause me to go through a number of uncomfortable exams, painful biopsies, and two different surgeries that may have compromised my reproductive ability.
Despite all of these, I am thankful for my wellness. On November 10th of this year, I celebrated my one year anniversary since my LEEP procedure. So far, I’ve been free of cervical cancer for over a year now. And in another six months, as long as my tests come back fine, I will be cleared of it entirely.
I am grateful for the periods of wellness that I experience within Bipolar Disorder.
And I have so much gratitude toward the doctors that helped me get to this point of wellness in my life.
But, most of all, I am grateful for the wellness of my family. Xan rarely catches any of the illnesses that pass through this house. And if he does, it’s relatively mild. Beast is well, with no serious health problems. Although he does have Autism Spectrum Disorder, I can be thankful that it isn’t worse than it is. I grew up with my brother, who has ASD much worse than my son. I realize that it could have been a lot worse. And, I’m grateful for the Early Intervention he received from the most wonderful professionals I’ve ever met.
I’m grateful that my family is well, and continues to do well.