This is the first year I can remember finding Joy in the holidays. There have been some really big shifts in how I approach them as well as in my line of work. I used to hate the holidays, I did everything I could to avoid them, worked through them, and refused to listen to Christmas songs until the week of actual Christmas. Growing up as an Empath made the holidays extremely difficult.
Growing Up As An Empath
No matter what people tried to hide from me around financial strain or their true feelings for people in the room, I could feel through it. I didn’t have the ability to understand what a lie was or why what I felt was so out of alignment with what people were saying. To be fair no one had heard of the word EMPATH. I remember feeling every ache and pain when someone was in the kitchen working too hard, or when someone strained to hang decorations, and the stress landed in my body. I didn’t understand that being empathic meant I could feel others’ pains and that it was NOT my responsibility to fix it or make it better. As I got older and my parents separated the tension of the season intensified as did my heightened sensitivity to others’ deep inner emotional and physical feelings. By age 16 there was no joy in the season only a huge burden and so I found my first addiction, work.
I took a job at age 16 at Domino’s pizza and I signed up for every single holiday shift! It meant I got more money but above all it meant I could numb myself to the intense feelings of any holiday by being preoccupied. This became a trend that continued from fast food into the restaurant and hospitality industry. Every year I worked countless holiday parties and worked the late shift on every Christmas Eve. Looking back now I understand how much I was suffering. I felt the weight of the world and the holidays intensified it. Big lines, crowds, loud parties, and frenetic mood swings affected me and I had NO tools to cope except work and later alcohol.
Changing Of The Seasons
As I have grown and travelled down my path I have come to learn what being an Empath means in my body and above all learned that responsibility only applies to me and how I choose to turn up. I have begun celebrating Solstice with more emphasis and Christmas with less because when I tune into the changing seasons I feel peace. The falling of the leaves each year gives me permission to die, and the return of the sun gives me hope to rise and rebirth. The seasons give me permission to be grateful for what they offer and this past season was solace, quiet, and reflection. I honored that in my body and as the sun returns I feel able to begin to plant seeds to meet the sun and rise again from the dark to meet the light.
This year in creating space for me I have rested more, journaled lots, and have kept engagements to a minimum level. This has opened up a place in my heart for love, for joy, and above all peace. This year as I strive to create new traditions for what family looks like to me I am entering it with presence, and that is the greatest gift I could have ever asked for.