Even though we did more decorating and I had more holiday joy this year than many others (something about growing older - I lost the joy for awhile. I think it took having a grandchild to bring it back) there was still a holiday sadness.
Some of the time I was seeing life through what seemed like a sheer curtain of - is it grief? My sadness involves a "lost" adult child and only bi-monthly visits with my beloved granddaughter - who lived here much of her life (and those purely thanks to PA. Family Court). We are so NOT a Norman Rockwell family!
Earlier today I talked with my coach who's experienced a couple years of severe physical problems (only recently getting a diagnosis - a diagnosis that isn't a cure). We have similar feelings about living with long-term "pain" (hers physical, mine relational).
We talked about how hard it is to have some things totally outside your control (actually - that's a life deal, but it becomes very obvious - you LIVE it as opposed to know it - when you are in grief/trauma/pain). How huge it is to deal with on-going issues as opposed to something you can grieve and move on from.
We talked about how f'ing frustrating it is to have some people offer platitudes or talk as if anything could make your troubles as light as sugar candy (we talked much about the possibly impolite urge to tell those same people to go f___ themselves!).
And we talked about patting ourselves on the back for still putting one foot in front of the other each day. Maybe an extra pat for finding and/or allowing joy and holiday fun in at all.
I also talked to a friend who called asking for prayer because her estranged mom is in the hospital, and e-mailed back and forth to my heart-sister who's been dealing with loss in her own family (including a suicide) while offering hope to so many.
There are lots of us who aren't Norman Rockwell material. And I guess that's the point of this post. Lots of us aren't portrait-ready right now. Lots of us are bruised. Bruised, maybe broken-hearted, but still here (and by that I do not mean still alive, I mean - still open, still vulnerable, still offering and receiving love).
If that's you, if you see yourself as part of the spilled open broken-hearted, as opposed to the nary-a-problem folks (bless them) or the broken-and-bitter folks (even more blessings for them, they'll need them!) I'd like to welcome you to my family - our family - the "NOT Norman Rockwell models" family (what a long last name we have).
Welcome, come on in - I believe I see our portrait taking form now - we don't look much alike - but we sure do shine (vulnerability and openness are beautiful)!
Photo copyright Lauren Caterson 2008