The struggle bus that was 2017 is coming to a close and per usual, I’m being reflective. As I write this, I’m crying to “White Christmas” and trying to not get tear stains on my Christmas cards. Yes, laugh. Believe me, I see how ridiculous this scenario is.
I feel hopeful as I open each new card and prepare to write something cheerful and sign it. I’m happy, I say. I’m happy. I’m happy. I’M HAPPY. Am I happy? I try to focus on who the card is for – it’s about giving, not receiving. *One more scrawling signature down.* I try to say something about 2018. *Another. Signature. Down. Does that “J” look too wiley?* I try to talk about recipients’ children. *Does this address look pensive?*
Even in something that will be in the trash in 2.5 weeks, I go over such detail in my head with all 114 cards. I’m a wreck. I want to say more. But Christmas cards aren’t where you shed scars from the last 11 months. My Aunt Sue has her own stuff going on. We all have our own stuff going on. But as I sit with glitter in my lap and ink stains on my fingertips, I feel like I’m cheating. Do I really get to participate in this holiday like nothing happened this year?
Let’s face it, this year is really only one thing for me. If 2017 were a FRIENDS title it would be,”The one where Julia tried to die.” Suicidal ideation is nothing to make light of, I get that. But looking back, I was so in over my head with plans to leave this world because I was/am in pain. And here I sit signing cards like everything is swell and hoping the handwriting doesn’t give away my secret that I’m still struggling with my mental health.
During intensive 6-day a week group therapy in August I cried for a whole session over the shame I felt for everything I’d put my family through from being hospitalized to being out of work. How selfish was I to think that getting things in order so my life could be easily closed would be OK for anyone? I had to come to a place to forgive myself for those feelings. But I don’t think I have. Listening to a Christmas song that starts, “Everything is different/ nothing has changed/ we’re going in circles/ it’s Christmas again” says kind of how I feel even though it’s suppose to be a hopeful song. I feel like as much work as I’ve put in, so much still hasn’t changed. My body and soul still ache. I still feel like a time suck and a money drain on so many family and friends. I feel like I’m living a lie with each “Love, Julia” I sign. I struggle with loving myself, so I don’t really have love to send anyone. I don’t feel worthy of enjoying this season of joy and thanksgiving at all because I was so willing to walk away from it.
In those blank spaces on the cards I want to say, “I went through a lot of lows this year. A lot. I’m still repairing and healing mentally. Don’t forget to really talk to people because they may need the same level of care, especially during the holidays.”
Maybe someone else is listening to Christmas music and crying and needs to be reassured, too. Maybe you’ve had a Julia in your life this year and feel a little bit of a burden to keep things happy and light for that person after a year of heaviness. Anyone can always text NAMI to 741741for help on both sides of the issue. I’m having to remind myself I am worthy of my life. Maybe someone around you needs reassurance, too. Don’t hesitate to reach out.