Last Christmas I never could have imagined the pain I would be in now. The baby was young but excited about brightly colored paper, empty boxes and the two cats lazily taunting him just out of his reach. We laughed and dreamed how it would be next year, with him being more mobile and somewhat understanding of his surroundings.
The Holidays started out fine, and early, this year. The tree was up in a reasonable time, our annual color scheme (blue and white this year) chosen, and corresponding wrapping paper was purchased after some difficulty to match what few unbreakable ornaments BB and the cats couldn’t reach. Most of our gifts were purchased on Black Friday and I developed an Excel spreadsheet to try to stay on top of “budgets” (this phrase was used very loosely), gifts purchased, cards and gifts needed to be wrapped. I was excited and looking forward to it.
Now, on Christmas Eve, everything has changed.
My grandmother is gone due to old age, although it doesn’t make it any easier; this will be our first Christmas without her. My father was effectively granted a death sentence via diagnosis of a degenerative disease recently, after having varied and severe undiagnosed symptoms over the last two years. I’m struggling to come to terms with the ugly reality that this may be our last Christmas with him, especially because I blamed his drinking for most of it. There is a lot of guilt on my end still, and I haven’t been able to find the words to apologize for it yet.
I’m unhappy with my husband most of the time, even on days when he’s done nothing wrong. I no longer have the same feelings for him I did when we were first courting, or newly married. The butterflies have long flown away and were replaced with solemn emptiness; most days I am lonely even with him sitting/sleeping next to me. Every time I try to talk about my feelings, without the judgment and cynicism I’m plagued with, it all falls apart. He offers me love and shaky promises I know won’t be fulfilled, and I fall into uneasy sleep, haunted by endless unhappy possibilities. Technology inhibited our ability to communicate and built the initial wedge between us, but ultimately the reason for our failing love is the darkness within my own heart.
Professionally I’m unfulfilled. Politically I’m scared. My life has become the ultimate metaphor for a sinking ship. The only thing keeping me from drowning is the love of my son and the magic his smile brings every day; it’s my drug, and without it I’m unable to live. For now, while being smothered by perpetual grief, he is the only joy I have. And I’m so grateful for it. I’m hoping these are just “Holiday Blues” and I’ll be able to shake it off sooner rather than later.
In between happy snapshots and posts on social media, this is Christmas 2016.