Christmas, 2017

I’ve been in a far better place during the holiday season these last few years than I was for most of my adult life. My expectations for a celebratory observance were too high, and I and my family suffered. I wanted everything about the Christmas holidays to be perfect: my family, my home and myself. I thought I had to be perfect and put together a perfect feast, with the house looking spectacular and our children fresh and bright and attractive. Buying and wearing new clothes was essential.

I thought perfect was happiness.

I thought perfect was a requirement for having a Good Christmas for myself and family.

I thought that perfect meant I was a good person. My family had to be ideal.

I longed for perfect.

Trying to achieve the perfect house, feast, children and all things Christmas meant control. And I tried for control with my family and house and self at Christmastime.

Actually, exerting control to achieve perfection took a toll on all of us. At times our household was a rigid environment with my husband Jim and our two children walking on eggshells. My family suffered and so did I.

I believed in perfection and believed that if I was perfect my mental health would be more resilient and my depression would improve. Control and perfection were needed for survival.

Surviving Christmas season is not living with affection, gaiety and joy. Or with thankfulness. Yes, Christmas can have hard portions for us all but not be hard throughout. Generosity of spirit, thought, word and deed were and are not possible when one’s efforts are centered on achieving control.

As I recovered my mental health the holidays became more loving, spontaneous and satisfying.

The wish for control hasn’t left me altogether, but I give control its due place. And positive cognitive and behavioral techniques help me manage the impulse to control and subdue the impulse inside me that demands I seek control.

I wish you too can share contentment, comfort and joy this Christmas and throughout the New Year.

Take care and thanks for listening. Gail Louise