Wednesday, December 18, 2013

When Christmas Can't Be Perfect

We all want Christmas to be the perfect Christmas we all dream of...the Christmas we see in the movies.

We want the perfect Christmas tree, the lights, the snow, the family gathered round (and all getting along), the presents that are perfectly picked out and everyone loves them dearly (but didn't break the bank), we want to have the moment where we realize that we really have a wonderful life by the bell ringing on the Christmas tree.

But that doesn't happen does, it. Especially when you're chronically ill. Especially when you try to hard to make it perfect. 

When we try so hard to make everything picture perfect all we really end up doing is disappointing ourselves, really. In the long run. 

Lately, all I've been doing is trying to do everything to make Christmas for my family perfect. And I'm not quite sure why. I think it's because the holidays are stable and they happen every year and they are associated with happiness and normalcy and I've been through so much change this year that I really need something normal and happy and stable, rather, my therapist thinks all this about me and I agree.

But even in this making everything perfect all I've done is make my expectations of the day so much that I can hardly stand it and set myself up for failure to a point where I already know it's going to be a let down. I've also set my body up for failure at a time where I need to be in healing mode more than ever. I have just gone through three of the most traumatic months of my life and now I am taxing it to the limits worrying about stupid stuff like is the table turned exactly 3 and 3/4" this direction and are the lights exactly 8" apart all the way around the tree and is the whole house dusted and is my sisters room perfect and are all the dishes washed and put away and are all the clothes put away and there better not be any dirty laundry on top of the washer either, because who has dirty laundry on top of their washer at the holidays, not us. Not this Christmas. And I am not joking about any of this. I feel bad for my mom, because this is how neurotic I've been, because for some reason I want this Christmas to not only be perfect, but clean, and I mean mega clean! 

I have spent every last cent I have making sure my family and closest friends have the most meaningful gift I could come up with for them. If they asked for a $15 something I made sure they had the $50 version of it. Lucky you if you're in my family. I am also not kidding about this which is sad. Because yes, Christmas is all about the giving. But to what point is it about the giving because you care and to what point is it about the giving from the heart? I mean I really hope they all like their gifts...but I could have probably done just as well, with less money. 

My mom kept telling me to slow down and that I was doing way too much and that I was going to make myself sick and I kept breaking down crying telling her I just wanted to clean and make the house nice for Christmas and for my sister to come home. Then for the past three weeks I've been having severe increased muscle weakness to the point where I thought I was going to have to use my wheelchair again. Well, come to find out today at my physical therapy evaluation that the silly stupid stuff such as vacuuming and standing up to clean could have been causing my muscle weakness and severe pain because my hips and ankles are severely hypermobile and more-so than I was aware of so a lot of things that I am doing on a daily walking...are actually causing damage to my joints, muscles, and tendons and could end up causing some severe permanent damage if I don't start paying attention and slowing down soon. This could be why I felt so fatigued after doing what I thought were such small things.

I also am having an extremely hard time eating here lately. I'm being told to try to eat, but only very small portions once a day, by very small portions I'm talking 2 or 3 bites and for a foodie that is just not very possible. Then I lost one of (my most powerful nausea medications) to a prior authorization/insurance issue so until that is resolved eating anything really isn't happening at all comfortably or willingly. So going into the holidays where eating is the center and focused on so greatly as part of the thing that is done at every gathering is not very exciting for me. Plus, even with my limitations, going to gatherings where people stuff their faces, that just is not possible for me anymore, so it's just something else to make me feel isolated and left out in the holiday world, which is another reason why I'm trying to make everything else so perfect I think, so there is so much less focus on food. I mean our whole society is focused on food, especially at the holidays, what do you say when you are offered food over and over again and you really want to say that will make me throw up or feel like I want to die but you really have to say no thank you for the 4,000th time because no one understands that no, seriously, you really can't eat. 

Anyway, my big takeaway here is that we need to learn, especially as people with chronic illnesses that there is no such thing as a perfect Christmas. There is no such thing as a perfect Christmas no matter who you are. We need to learn to remember the reason for the season. If you look at the Christmas story from a distance you wouldn't think it was perfect, but you know in the long run it is. So do what you can to make your Christmas work for you. Put up a little teensy Christmas tree, put out a couple decorations, send out some Christmas cards, do something that makes Christmas special for you and go with it. That will be your perfect Christmas. As for me, I've already done myself in for this year. The house is spotless and the money is spent, but I vow to try not to worry about the house as much until Christmas is over, because it will get messy between now and then. I also vow to remember that Christmas brings a little bit of George Bailey out in all of us. And we can try to remember that no matter how slow, or imperfect, or fragmented, or dirty, or what kind of presents we give or get we really do have wonderful lives. 

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