Written By Casey Hersch, MSW, LCSW
December 19, 2021
It is that time of year, again... when I am supposed to feel merry and bright, but a sad loneliness blankets me. Maybe it is because my 96 year old grandmother doesn't know who I am anymore. Perhaps it is my ongoing struggle with Crohn's disease. However, if I have to sum up the reason I struggle emotionally during the holidays in one word---TRAUMA---says it all.
As a child I lived in a home with poverty, abuse, and a whole lot of disappointment. When I learned Santa Claus was actually my father---a man who I feared---my feelings about Christmas changed. As the years went on my parents divorced, and my mom and I were banned from the familar holiday events. Single parent household did not fit into conventional holiday family traditions. Of course I wished for presents, but we never had enough money for life necessities, so I "settled" for socks and bed sheets. Then, there was the year my cat passed away---the only real family with whom I connected. Now this year, the Dixie fire has added another layer of trauma to my family history.
Sometimes we get so caught up in what we are supposed to feel during the year that we ignore the fact that not everyone feels the same. I want to honestly acknowledge the pain that comes with being human. Not all holidays are bright and merry for everyone and for people living with childhood trauma histories, the holidays can trigger many uncomfortable feelings.
We all have sadness, loneliness, and painful memories. So if this is a holiday season you feel less than jolly, IT IS OK! Use this time to really expand your support system and practice extra kind generosity with yourself. I really loved how Kelly Clarkson, artist and singer, described her experience with the Christmas blues in a song she performed during her recent holiday television show. She acknowledged that we don't hear much about the tough parts of the holiday season but whether it is a divorce or another type of loss, the holidays can trigger all sorts of mixed feelings. As I listened to her song and comments, I felt inspired. She spoke about her authentic feelings but also how her memories served as a gift to herself---a way to recall the good times and heal from the unpleasant times. I find her message of validating and lovingly releasing very empowering and therapeutic. After all, we are not alone in this human experience.
Here is a link to her interview: https://www.self.com/story/kelly-clarkson-emotional-christmas-song
Enjoy her song: