It’s Christmas Day, and I’m sitting cross legged on a bed in Germany. My children are downstairs with my sister and her family, watching ET and working their way through the selection box of chocolates that was waiting under the tree this morning. My parents are wandering around, humming benevolently, and the house smells of pine needles and coffee and contentment.
So all is good in my world. I hold on to these moments because in the last few years, there have been times when life is so far removed from the fairy tale that I’ve got up in the mornings and been so unable to work out how to get through the next part of my day that it’s had to be broken into bite size pieces. Breathe. Eat, even though the food tastes like cardboard. Smile, even when you have to remind each muscle how to do it. Function like an adult, even when the broken parts inside you clamour and grate and beg you to go to bed and tune out the real world.
So, this Christmas, I want to talk about hope.
I’ve always had anxiety. Sometimes it’s a low mutter, sometimes a full on scream. Sometimes it sulkily retreats to a cave in the back of my mind and bunkers down for a few months while it plans its next attack. My unwanted travelling companion, my enemy, my familiar friend.
And then, a couple of years ago, a Bad Thing happened, which kicked off a whole series of subsequent Very Bad Things. Anxiety got a big brother, PTSD, and together they skipped round my head and wrought havoc.
In those endless days, it’s difficult to believe there will be an end to the pain. Forget there being a light at the end of the tunnel. Someone has torpedoed both ends of the damn tunnel after throwing in a large bear with sharp teeth and an attitude problem. It’s just all darkness and dodging.
Sometimes, it doesn’t do any good to look for the light. Sometimes, all you can do is find a corner in the darkness, and curl up, and let the bear prowl around. And in those moments, if you let yourself be still, you can feel it.
Deep inside, there is almost always hope. The smallest stirring, a butterfly beat. The thing that stops you giving up. The knowledge that somewhere, sometime, there is the possibility of happiness, and contentment, and peace.
This Christmas, I’m out of the tunnel. I’m surrounded by love. I can see brightness, and future. I don’t know where I’m going, but I know I’ll be ok when I get there.
But there are those of you today who are still in the darkness, dodging the bear. I salute you. You’re warriors, every one of you. You’re surviving. You’re incredible. We can see it, even when you can’t.
So for the people who are struggling today, on a day when everyone tells you to be happy, I have a Christmas wish. I wish you stillness, even for just a moment. And a chance to feel the butterfly beat of hope.
Merry Christmas xx