Thursday, December 9, 2010

Around this time last year, I started experiencing panicky moments.  I was uncharacteristically stressed out, as everyday tasks overwhelmed me.  I felt particularly pressured about Christmas.  This had never happened to me before; I had always loved Christmastime.  I found myself crying over simple matters.  When my husband suggested I shop for our Christmas Eve & Christmas necessities without him, I felt like I couldn't breathe & started bawling.  He seemed perplexed by my reaction (as was I), but he sweetly agreed to go without me & handled all of it.  I stayed home & beat myself up.  I couldn't shake my anxiety & it tormented me. 

Looking back on it a year later, I have some perspective.  When my endo raged, it was in late January.  I can now imagine the endo was spreading inside of me, relentlessly attacking my organs.  I looked healthy on the outside, but I was sick on the inside.  It makes sense to me now-- this was the source of my panic.  The storm was on the horizon, threatening my very existence.  My body was reaching the end of what could be tolerated.  I was soon to be in constant, debilitating pain.

It's difficult for me to think about that time.  Winter has arrived again & its luggage includes troubling memories from last year.  I'm trying to focus on my countless blessings & gratitude for surviving that horrible time in my life.  When it was happening, I couldn't envision the day my pain would end.  I tried, but the pain gave me tunnel vision; all I could see ahead was never-ending darkness.

This year, we are hosting our family Christmas for the first time.  My husband asked if it was going to be too stressful for me.  He didn't want to agree to it if I was going to be miserable.  I saw his own recollection of last year written on his face.  I explained he would need to help me; he assured me he would.  Our eyes met for a moment & he smiled.  I held his hand, took a deep breath & exhaled my concerns.  I thought about what Christmas really means to me.  My favorite part of Christmas is having fun with my family.  Everyone having the whole day together to spend laughing, talking, playing & eating.  The house full of laughter during our silly white elephant gift exchange & rowdy board games (our new fave is Apples to Apples).  No one's day will be ruined if my floors are dirty, my muffins are burnt or their sweater is the wrong size.  With this realization, I embraced my old friend Christmas--wrapped my arms snug around it's neck--& happily starting planning the day.  A few people are going to stay overnight & I am so excited to have a family sleepover!  I can't wait to celebrate the beauty of Christmas with my family.  Praise God for seeing me through the worst of my disease.  I am so grateful.

My dog has the right idea--relax & enjoy the holidays!

the stockings were hung by the fire with care

How do you handle holiday stress?  What is your favorite family holiday tradition?  Has your health ever threatened your holiday fun?  Please leave a comment, I'd love to hear your thoughts.