Written in January 2023
“Did you have a nice Christmas?”, they ask. “It happened”, I reply, in a blend of cheery and weary honed over four decades.
“It happened” has been my stock response to that question for years. It's worth mentioning that I was a butcher for over 5 years, so I've had my share of hectic Christmases where I've been working 12 hour days for the fortnight before the day (and more). Those Christmases were marked by me being ill on Christmas Day, as my body finally succumbed to the various maladies I'd been incubating under the adrenaline blanket that had been keeping me running. At least that gave me something to (legitimately) complain about.
This year was the first of many where I've been living in the family home, the house where everyone (OK, both of them) come to celebrate Christmas. Through a combination of circumstance and health this year I was looking at my uncle (who keeps strange hours and snores like he's trying to break a world record) and my brother (who is the embodiment of fluctuating plans and cannot move quietly) being in the house for around 4 days. The same house.
I now know I was in flight and freeze mode over this impending event, with a dash of fight cresting over the oil-and-water mix of flight and freeze responses. Twice I nearly booked to go away somewhere, stopped by my freeze mode causing decision paralysis. I ended up shut down and melting down simultaneously, and relying quite heavily on (prescribed) chemical help to keep me afloat.
Chemical help, and the unfailing support of my incredible mum. But, I realised I was a burden again. There were times over Christmas when I felt suicidal again, a feeling that had thankfully been absent for several months. Although I am useful and helpful to have around in a practical sense, I am also burdensome in that my needs prevent others from accessing what they need. This time, however, I have privately channelled that feeling into a positive, rather than a destructive plan (one which also would not be possible without my amazing mum). I'm keeping that plan under wraps for the moment, even though it's highly unlikely that anyone in my family will ever read this (even then it won't be until well after the plan has been enacted or has failed to materialise).
So, how was my Christmas? It happened.