There is one time in the year that my bipolar self dreads. Christmas.
Growing up Christmas was always a huge family gathering, tonnes of food, beautiful roast pork with salty crackle and grandma’s famous trifle. There was drinking and the more drink that was drunk the more in depth the conversations became. We all loved to swim and Queensland summers were perfect for that.
When my family split life began to get difficult and juggling two of every event was hard. Christmas became a chore and the conversations became more about who could out do the other.
As soon as I had my children Christmas became all about family and giving the kids everything they wanted. We spoil them. They benefited from the two Christmas’ they got so many gifts we almost needed two cars to get home.
I have spent seven years living 5 hours away which has kept us out of the split Christmas lunches and we rarely have had any family visit here over the holidays. I still do a big lunch and trifle the best thing is I can stay in my PJ’s all day.
Christmas this year was going to be back home on the Coast. Our time spent over three major Christmas gatherings. MC’s sister’s one and as we only met her and her family last year, we haven’t spent much time with them at all this was the perfect time to visit. We have one with my dad and step family and also one with my mum and siblings. The hardest thing is we are the only ones with children which means dad’s and mums gatherings have had them all grow accustomed to adult Christmas catch ups, no hyper children in the way.
My anxiety peaks at the thought of having to spend any time with my father and his wife. Our relationship has been stained with arguments and little to no correspondence and what little we have left, barely gets me a phone call or birthday card on my birthday. Having facebook as a way to “stay in touch” just exacerbates my anxiety and frustrations as I can see him and his wife being overly loving to my step sisters and gushing about them and their joy at finally getting grandchildren they want (which my step sisters have NOT had yet) this makes my stomach churns at the lack of regard for my children. I often wish for what should/could have been.(I can’t change he past I know this). We were invited to the Christmas gathering at my dad’s place but it was more of an afterthought on his part that an invitation like the rest of my siblings got two months prior. Even if their expectation was that we weren’t coming down should still, in my eyes have warranted being invited with time to organise going.
My mum and siblings are having a brunch at my sister’s unit. This means squeezing in 7 adults and 3 children into a 2 bedroom unit. I don’t doubt that it can be done but I dare say the novelty will wear thin very quickly. I love them so much and I don’t want to ruin all the progress we have made this year. My siblings have gone over and above to help me through the tough times including my Electroshock Therapy that I don’t want it to change. I know they won’t judge me or my kids and their behaviour but I don’t know if it is worth risking.
This Christmas will be smaller than prior ones as we aren’t working and struggle to keep the fridge full. We are selling things on ebay to make a little cash. I will do everything I can to make the kids have a good time, a memorable Christmas as long as they are happy we can be happy.
I was trying to make a coast visit work but with little flexibility I was starting to drown in my own bipolar head and struggling with making everyone else happy. No one asked what would work for us. No one offered accommodation or extra resources to help out. Packing my family into a car and doing the 5 hour trip is exhausting and the money to out lay for just a weekend is massive. We need some where to sleep, we need to eat, and there is also the shopping. Oh the shopping when going to the big city always means shopping on what you can’t get from the small town shops. Eldest always wants to shop when we go down she does put pressure on us to do it too.
After a big discussion with MC about whether we can do it. He helped me see that I was stressing, anxious and frustrated. I was trying too hard to please everyone else. MC suggested I take a step away from Christmas planning and focus on the kids and myself, put us first and let the rest of the family figure out how they can see us. Let my dad put his grand kids first. Have him show some interest in them. MC knows that we are right at the bottom of the important family members list for my dad and his wife. (His lack of interest makes me feel like a teenager again trying to get his attention. So crushed) MC knows how low I am getting trying to make it work. MC can see the pain in me. He has said that I need to keep moving forward and that the stress of the Coast Christmas may set me back and ruin all the effort we have put into getting me on the up and up.
If we won the lotto I would take us overseas to have a white Christmas. Go as far away as possible. Leave all the anxiety, frustration, stress, time under the tree at home.