canaa: (and mouth with myriad subtleties)
[personal profile] canaa
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As I saw somewhere else, "Any that will win me a $50 Amazon gift card."

. . . no, but really, I wouldn't call what I do celebrating so much as "anticipating and dreading in equal amounts." I'm not religious, so my celebrations, such as they are, are entirely secular. My family is Christian, so of course, when I celebrate with them, it's a celebration of Christmas in the Christian sense, but my own personal feelings and attitudes towards the celebration are based differently from theirs.

And of course I look forward to receiving presents. I already know that this year, I'm going to receive Skyrim, which is something I'm anticipating. But it's also a bit painful that I can't give much, since I'm extremely broke; I currently have about $200 to my name, if that, which is already earmarked for books for next quarter. Broke college student, that's me.

Now, I've been the sole gift-giver in my family before, during a particularly hard Christmas where I was the only one with any real disposable cash, and now it's my turn to be the one with very little money, but that doesn't make me feel any less guilty for this year. So that's part of the dreading.

The other part, however, comes from the fact that I am the child of alcoholics. Growing up, holidays were an excuse for my father to start drinking early and achieve new heights of inebriation; my mother, a recovering alcoholic and codependent, was often sullen and withdrawn, upset over having to do so much by herself (because god forbid my father help, and we children were a bit young to cook a turkey) and reacting in a typical passive-aggressive manner that I and my sister learned to imitate. Family times, difficult enough ordinarily, became excruciating.

Even now, holidays are difficult for my entire family; my father is no longer part of the picture, but that doesn't alleviate years of training that holidays exist to be berated on; that along with gifts under the tree, or presented on birthdays, come gifts of verbal abuse. That heaping helpings of turkey and mashed potatoes are garnished with liberal doses of scorn and insults.

The dread of holidays is getting better over time, which is something to celebrate in and of itself. The longer we're free of my father's poisonous influence, the more we all improve. This year will be the first time we celebrate Christmas with my new stepfather; my mother has been able to move on, put my father behind her, and trust again, which is a fantastic step. She's been so much happier!

And this year, that's what it's all about. The changes that this Christmas will be seeing, the progress we've all made. I'm back in school again and getting straight As this quarter, and I'm struggling a little but working through it instead accepting failure as natural to me and curling up in a little ball of self-hatred the way my father trained me to do. My sister and her husband bought their own home this year, a milestone they weren't sure they were going to manage so soon.

These are the things that I'm celebrating.this year. This is my 'holiday'. I'll be doing it on the 25th with my family, because that's when they celebrate their holiday, and that's okay.

Though I have to say, I wouldn't mind if they wanted to celebrate a little earlier. Want Skyrim nao plz.
(Can you tell I've been writing essays for school? I wasn't even trying, and I laid this out like an essay.)

Date: 2011-12-14 01:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Holidays with crazy family = crazy-making. Word.

I'm glad you're doing better. I know that feeling, that one-foot-in-front-of-the-other feeling, and I have to say, it takes forever to get to a point where you feel like you can not only walk but run and fly.

But it's so worth it. You're worth it.

Date: 2011-12-14 04:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks. :)

Today's the second-to-last class of the quarter, and I have two presentations (in Spanish and in Poetry), but both are pretty informal, simple affairs; I won't say that speaking in front of the class isn't challenging, but it could be worse. And then I have a test in Music Appreciation tomorrow that will only count towards my grade if I get over 100% on it, so I can only go up, not down - no stress there. XD And then I have a paper due for Poetry before midnight Friday, which is a day classes aren't even in, so . . . I think I'm good. ;) These last few weeks have been a bit insane (what I've done in poetry over the last two weeks: a 12 page paper assigned to us as weekend homework that was part of our final, two days of in-class final, two small presentations, and the five page paper due friday. At least I was smnart enough to sign up for one of the first two reading groups - the latter two also had another three-page paper due in that time period. This is a 100-level course!), but I've plugged through.

Next quarter should be my last at PC; I'm going to be filling out university applications during winter break. It's pretty nerve-wracking, because there's still a large part of me that thinks this is too much, I'm not capable of this kind of thing, but I'm not listening to it anymore. And not only that, I'm angry now. I'm angry that I'm 28 years old now, that I'll be 29 before starting at a four-year college, and that depression stole basically a decade of my life from me, made me live in a tiny little shell when I could have been doing so much more.

Not that I'm completely unshelled - I'm still a hermit aside from going to class - but I'm making progress, you know?

Date: 2011-12-15 10:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
God, I know. My first year at university I was such a wreck. I didn't sleep, I barely ate, I was angry and depressed all the time. It was worse than I had ever imagined.

Now I look back at all the time I wasted, all the time I spent convincing myself that I couldn't do something because it was too hard, out of my comfort zone. And the thing is, it's not like I could have gone from zero to sixty all at once. That was basically what I tried to do with going to college, and it made me so miserable. I took some of that time because I absolutely needed it. It's hard to go from "pretty sure somebody's going to hit you or yell at you or tell you that you're a worthless sack of shit and if something bad happens which it will you definitely deserved it" to "normal happy human being". I had to learn how normal people behave and start emulating it before it started to feel real.

But I look around now and I think, holy crap. Look at all the victories. And it is straight-up worth it. When you go through major life transitions there's this period where you feel like a fraud, like they let you in or hired you by mistake, and it's scary and overwhelming. But it's so worth it to know that it keeps getting better.

So what I'm trying to say is, look at all your victories. You can and will do what you want to. There is no vengeful and punishing god waiting out your hubris. Bad things happen, but at the end of the day, anything you survive is okay. And if you ever want to talk, I'm here.

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