I actually wrote this post just after last Christmas, but I didn’t feel it was the right time for me to share. This time last year, only my closest friends and family knew that I had, only months earlier, suffered my second miscarriage. I was still going through horrible hormonal ups and downs and Christmas day was the due date of my first pregnancy. I’ve kept it and hopefully it can help someone else who is struggling this Christmas. I have made a few edits, because I only decided a few months ago I would share at all about my journey so my original version from last year watered down some of the facts.
I suppose you’ve gathered that I’m a Christmas freak! I love everything about it. Christmas for me isn’t the one-day event, it’s pretty much all of December. It involves watching Christmas movies, listening to Christmas music, baking, decorating, wrapping and then there’s the events. I don’t get stressed about everything I have to do, because I like the doing. Each stage is part of Christmas for me but I’m also not someone who rushes it all because it ‘has to get done’, I’m usually done my preparations by December 1st so that I enjoy the led up and traditions. I do really love it. That being said, Christmas can be hard… bloody hard!! When you’ve lost a loved one, when you’re not sure how you’re going to afford to have Christmas this year or maybe because you’re trying to have a baby and Christmas is ‘all about the kids’. I wanted to write something because I know I present a very ‘picture perfect’ image of Christmas and that isn’t exactly the reality for everyone, or all the time and it isn’t for me. It’s not fair to others who might be looking at me going, ‘it’s ok for her, her life is perfect and my life sucks’. I just haven’t felt I was in a position to share openly about what’s been happening personally for me. But – I don’t want to present an unattainable lie. And honestly, it’s not a lie. I do love Christmas and I have had so much love and joy in those moments. I’m focusing on these things that make me happy, for myself more than anyone else – not an image. It brings joy to my days and protects my heart. But, it’s only a part truth, what I put online was not every moment of Christmas for me. Christmas was actually really, really hard for me this year. And so, I wanted to be real about that and to share some of the things that helped me through this year.
People know that I’m recently single, which is one change I’m experiencing. What people don’t know is that I lost my baby at 8 and a half weeks around the same time. It was my second pregnancy; my first loss was a chemical pregnancy which I lost at 4 weeks. 3 and a half months ago my life was positioned to look completely different from what it does today. So, Christmas for me this year was a lot of echoes of a happy past, missing loved ones and shadows of a future I’ll never have. You all saw baking, trips to the city, decorations, wrapping and lovely family times-which were fabulous soul building times. You didn’t see days where I stayed in my pyjamas; even though they are Christmas themed and I watched Christmas movies. You didn’t see when I left events because it got too overwhelming; like Christmas Eve lunch with my grandparents when seated directly in front of me, in my perfect line of sight, was a brand-new baby. I barely made it out of the restaurant before dissolving into floods of tears, which carried on for hours into the afternoon. You didn’t see that often my diet consisted of a lot of gingerbread and not much else. And, I certainly didn’t post any red, puffy eyed selfies on my newsfeed- but they were all a part of my Christmas this year and that’s ok.
The thing, I find, that puts pressure on people at Christmas is the expectation that you are supposed to be happy, you’re supposed to be celebrating, you’re supposed to be… you fill in the blank. Christmas is a day though, and you’re not supposed to be anything other than whatever you need to be. If you are surrounded by people who love and care for you, that should be what makes it perfect- the love and acceptance to be present, however that occurs. This of course isn’t true for everyone, and I’m sorry if you don’t have those people in your life. I’m beyond grateful that I have been surrounded by family and friends who were completely fine if I wanted to be alone or if I wasn’t chatty or if I needed a vent. Who just loved me in my beauty and my mess; no matter what. Here’s a few things that helped me through this time of year, that hopefully you can apply all year round when there are different things that pop up which might be triggering or you feel expectation that it or you must be a certain way.
- Give yourself permission to be.
There is no wrong or right way to feel at Christmas or on your birthday or at any other point in your life. There are no ‘must dos’, traditions can change from year to year, you can start new traditions, you can give it a miss this year and try again next year. You are allowed to be sad at Christmas, you are allowed to be happy in the midst of horrible pain too (and it’s equally important you give yourself permission for that). Pushing away feelings only makes them worse. I know for me when I was trying to put on a happy face and hide what was going on, it actually just caused more anxiety because I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to hide it and then I isolated myself. Which wasn’t helpful. The best way to process feelings to help you heal, is to allow yourself to feel them.
- Look for joy or peace in the little moments.
This is why I delighted and shared when I made gingerbread or I unwrapped my Christmas pudding or I when I sat looking at my little tree and it made me happy. Happy is not a destination it is a feeling. We look at happiness as something to obtain but feelings eb and flow. You’re allowed to be happy and you’re allowed to be sad.
- Reach out.
Sometimes your feelings are more than you can handle alone and that’s ok. Our bodies aren’t meant to cope with the stresses of life sometimes. If you’re under a lot of stress, your brain actually starts producing (or not) chemicals which alter our brain chemistry. This can mean sadness turns into depression or anxiety. I can’t stress enough how healthy and normal it (should be) is to seek professional help if you need it. Beyond that talking to trusted friends and family is key. I knew that whoever I was with on Christmas day it would be 100% ok if I said ‘ok I need to go home now’ or if I sat there in tears or if I needed a chat or if I was just happy to be with people I loved. I spent Christmas night with a dear friend and her family, she actually said to me ‘whatever you need, we can do’. In the end she just let me hold her 3 month old sleeping baby for 4 hours while we all chatted, because that’s what I needed. The people who matter most don’t care if you’re not perfect, they just care. I will stress though that particularly if the circumstances are raw, reaching out to the right people is key. If the people you tell aren’t supportive and will only make things worse that’s not helpful. Don’t make long Facebook speeches, don’t tell everyone when you’re too vulnerable to deal with negative responses- protect yourself. Reach out to your trusted inner circle who you know will support you.
- Take space.
There were things I cancelled, things I never said yes to, things I avoided and that’s ok. There were times I didn’t say no too; I ended up triggered having to leave, which is ok too. If people in your life aren’t supportive, don’t feel like you need to spend your time with them. If there are things you feel like you ‘have to do’ that are just going to make you feel crappy- don’t do them. It’s ok, the world will keep turning and as I said if people really care about you, they won’t be offended.
- Connect with others.
One thing I have done is joined an online support group for people in a similar situation to me. I was sceptical at first but it’s a closed group and it’s so nice to be able to vent and have other people go ‘yeah me too’ or read others who need a little support and do the same for them. If no one else in your world gets what you are going through it can be incredibly isolating. So if you cant find people in your situation (or who have previously been through it) already in your life then find support groups (either a group you attend or online) to help you normalise what you’re experiencing.
I truly hope and pray that this Christmas if you are struggling that you will find the love and support you need. And that you will love yourself!! Honour those you’re missing. Find things that nourish your soul. And give yourself permission to experience Christmas through the season you are in.
Love to you All xoxoxo