Last year, I was really excited for Christmas. We were going to my brother’s for Christmas Eve and I had the BEST ugly sweater picked out. I was excited to be with family (my Dad, stepmom, brother and sister came to town), excited for my kids, and really looking forward to a fun evening. Christmas Eve dinner was always a big deal when I was a kid and I really wanted the same memory for my boys.

Then someone did something to me that crushed me. I honestly don’t remember what it was. I remember who – not what. I do remember how I felt and it was awful.
I was deflated. Attacked. And now I wanted to be away from everyone.

Every fun feeling I wanted to have was gone. I never wore the sweater. It felt silly now. I felt silly.

I sat at my brother’s house disengaged, quiet, and, in an odd way, lonely – surrounded by a crowd of people having fun that I couldn’t be there for.

I’ve had many moments like that over the years. Unable to enjoy life because of stress, drama, and conflict.

It’s taken me years of work to see my role in it. How I invited it in and took part. How I was trained to see it as normal from the youngest age. All realizations that hurt and anger me.

Shortly after Christmas last year, I made the decision to change my life – even more so than in recent years. I’d had enough.

Everything I’ve been doing to grow and learn seemed to be preparing me for this year. I had reached a clarity that showed me what had to change. And ever since, the clarity’s been whacking me upside the head.

It is amazing how much room in your own mind there is to explore when it’s not cluttered with conflict. You learn a lot when it’s quiet – even if your head is not. There’s time to sort through thoughts and feelings when you remove yourself from chaos. There’s room to grow – to find yourself.

This year, I gave myself the gift of being myself.

I’m still finding out who that is. Maybe I always will be.

What I do know is this: The anxiety I’ve felt in the presence of others was a warning I was not listening to. It was familiar and all I knew, so I thought it was normal.

It’s not.

So, every time I’ve felt it this year, I walked away. And each time, I turned my attention toward what mattered. My kids, my health, my calm, my mindset, and my sense of purpose.

Many times I mourned the loss of friendships that I now saw as toxic but I also celebrated new ones that weren’t.

I spent many days alone. Not because I was sad but because I needed rest. I needed to restore myself – my home. I wanted time to “just be.”

As I look to this weekend with family, I’m grateful for the gift I’ve given myself – presence. The ability to sit with myself and be ok.

I’m once again excited to be with my family. I will be wearing the sweater I never wore last year. And I will be present this Christmas with the people that mean the most to me.

I hope you have a wonderful week.

Keep moving forward,