Yes, I’m here on the other side of Christmas hell, and I lived to tell the tale. 🙂
For my future reference, and for yours, here are the things that I think made the biggest difference for me:
- Minimising time in the cesspit of negativity and criticism – I arrived late, and left several days earlier than normal. That certainly helped. I woke in my own bed on Christmas morning and, even though I was alone, I felt happy. I held on to that feeling for as long as I could. And when things did start to skirt the edges of “gnarly”, I reminded myself that I was leaving soon. 🙂
- I expected nothing – meaning that I expected things to not be great. In some past years I’ve gone hoping there’d be a miracle and the day would be great. Of course, it never was, and I was left with nothing but disappointment. Going in with no expectations was a much better approach – and accepting whatever happened, was equally important.
- I helped in the kitchen – kept myself busy, in the lead up and on Christmas day, preparing food. And for once we didn’t have enough food to feed several small African nations for a year – just enough for a nice meal without too much over indulgence.
- I kept my therapist in mind – I remembered the advice she’s given me over the last couple of years, and all the positive things I’ve achieved.
- I kept you guys in mind – that’s right, you lot; you readers; you out there. 🙂 I thought of you and imagined an invisible force binding us together and steeling us against the shenanigans we usually endure.
- I focussed on happy thoughts – and happy places. Things, people, places, ideas that make me happy or smile. If I felt things starting to slide, I just focussed on those and they got me through.
- I minimised conversation with my father – ok, sure, there were some exchanges, but mostly I was able to keep busy and keep away from him. And when I had to be near him, I did everything I could to avoid looking at him or touching him –guaranteed triggers for me.
- I kept touch with iPhone magic – games, social networking, anything that enabled me a few minutes peace, and some grounding.
I can’t take all the credit for things going better than anticipated. My father, for once, was in a better mood than he usually is, and actually spoke to me (or at least in my general direction) in a civil tone. And my mother went nearly 24 whole hours without getting snipey and critical of the world in general. Even when she did I charged up my Teflon coating and just let it all slide away from me. 🙂
Yay for me!
My anxiety didn’t really start to kick in until after I’d come home – I’m not really sure why. Well, I think I know what the anxiety’s about, just not sure why it didn’t hit until after I got home. Possibly it’s about fantasies colliding with realities, but that’s another post for another day.