sickly sweet

December 23, 2009 at 5:01 am 3 comments

We are in the thick of the holidays. A stressful time for many, we overspend and overdo. We also spend time with people and relatives that we ordinarily do not spend time with. I wonder if this is perhaps the most stressful part of all, attempting to please. Smiling and gushing over a gift you do not like or even want in the house. Putting on a cheery face to open the door when really you’d rather run upstairs and cry on your bed. Swallowing the tears that come when Aunt Edna makes fun of your cooking. This is stress.

Spending even a moment hiding yourself, who you are and how you feel, is stressful.

A long time ago my acupuncturist said to me that the upside of having allergies is that I would never have cancer. He’s the kind of guy that says things like that without much explanation, but I was able to draw out of him that, in theory, your body is sneezing and coughing to rid itself of what it deems toxic. A body that absorbs anything it comes across, without a fight, will perhaps suffer in the long run by storing unhealthy material that then turns cancerous.

This is too simple I know. Cancer is heartbreaking. One of the most maddening things about cancer is that we don’t know why some people get it and others do not. But I haven’t forgotten this idea and I find myself trying to apply it to emotions.

What happens when you swallow tears instead of letting them run down your cheeks? When you let someone summarize who you are as a person based on a funny anecdote about you as a teenager? When you run around trying to be someone you are not? Where do these stifled feelings go? Maybe they simmer inside. Maybe they become sickness.

Perhaps we can add avoiding major illness to the list of reasons to be emotionally true to oneself.

So here’s the guide for life, and especially for the holidays.

  • Feel what you feel.
  • Say what you mean.
  • Mean what you say.
  • Do only what you honestly want to do.

And, perhaps, this is easier – allow the same for your children.

  • Let them cry in disappointment if they don’t enjoy a gift, or expected something different. Even if the gift giver is watching.

Oh, you seem so sad. Were you expecting something else? You thought you knew what it was going to be and were so excited to open this gift, but it turned out to be something different and you’re surprised and disappointed?

  • Let them talk at the holiday dinner table. Even if it’s off topic.

Just a second honey, let Grandpa finish his sentence and then you can tell him about hockey practice.

  • Don’t make them sit on Santa’s lap at the mall when they say they’d rather not.

If there is a connection between mind and body, and I’m sure there is, give yourself, and your children this gift of emotional honesty. Don’t stuff feelings and allow them to fester, let them flow through you, even during the holidays, even in front of the in-laws.


Entry filed under: life lessons. Tags: , , , .

oasis still breathing

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ivy  |  December 23, 2009 at 8:33 am

    You are so brave. I’d like to be that open and that honest — I can be with those closest to me. But the in-laws. I shudder at the thought. Good for you.

    Merry Christmas!

  • 2. Alyssa  |  December 23, 2009 at 10:19 am

    Oh Natialie – thank you for this post. I struggle with this, I struggle with wanting to be the “perfect” daughter-in-law who is agreeable and nice at the expense of my own sanity and emotional autonomy. Just two days ago I was told by my m-in-law that she purchased a painting for my daughter which we had told her not to. When she called to tell me she bought it anyway I was so shocked I could only mumble something about it being ok and I’m sure we would like it. And then of course, after I got off the phone, I was kicking myself for being frightened of expressing my true feelings. And here I am now, days later, venting on this site. So frustrating…but, reading this kind of gives me a little boost…inspires me a bit to stand up for myself and for my family.
    happy holidays and new year

  • 3. Angela Malson  |  December 23, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    you’ve said it so perfectly. there is such a connection between mind and body and when you stuff feelings inside they will eventually explode, they have to. i have experienced this first hand, that is why i try so hard to allow my children to feel and feel it all. still difficult though when your programmed response is to please others.

    just the other day i witnessed a little girl crying her eyes out because she obviously did not want to sit on santa’s lap. it tore me up inside, i wanted to go and scoop her up and save her. my kids wouldn’t sit and cry they would bolt and fast, and between the ages of 1-3 that’s what they did, and we allowed it, no forcing. i hope they always stand their ground like that. i just have to remember to allow for their feelings, however intense, to release in the moment. and, while much harder, to allow the same for myself.

    thank you for your guidance with all of this, this space has become my oasis. much love and happy holidays to all!


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