I’m privledged as a counsellor to be able to hear people’s stories – usually in a completely raw state: no filter, no editing, or no ‘putting on a face’. And because of my role I can remind clients that they are not alone in their pain, their grief, broken-heartness, loneliness or whatever troubles them. But the collective experience is no executioner of pain, however it does help to quieten the ‘why me?’ internal monologue that can drown out any other rational or kinder voice. Besides, it’s often not a case of ‘why me?’ but ‘this is the reason why’. There are of course tragic exceptions but usually it is the choices we make that plant the seeds to the answers of ‘Why me?’ But making wrong choices is akin to putting on weight – it’s damn easy but damn hard to undo! BOOM! It happens in a blink of an eye.
So, whatever your state of mind right now, Christmas will probably magnify it. If you’re happy, you’ll be happier and if you’re sad or lonely – well, you’ll probably feel sadder or lonelier. What do you do with that? How do you rescue yourself from such a prediction? Like turning back the hands of time, it might feel impossible but there is something in this particular case that is ‘doable’. For example, If on a scale of 1-10, you rate yourself as ‘2’ in terms of loneliness. Don’t focus on the loneliness or on ‘not being lonely’. Instead, ask yourself ‘how can I get to a 3 today?’ Small achievable steps.
I’ve always struggled with complex emotions and memories – neither helped by being a complete empath. Bullying in secondary school along with a relentless bullying experience in a job I loved did not help things. No, I didn’t choose it and ‘why me?’ often invades my mindscape. But I believe another person might not have survived it – such was its brutalness. So maybe that is the reason it was me. But without sounding like a ‘cliche’, it all led me to a more meaningful life! Akin to the ‘monk that sold his Ferrari’ – I did leave behind a convertible and more clothes than a department store to this life: fleeces, leggings and wellies!
I previously ran after a career in bright lights only to realise they can blind you to the cracks. Every stepping stone, every choice (good and bad) has led me to here. No, it’s not always a bed of roses! Like today, it was one of those days, when it’s just you and the animals – who normally are enough of a buoyancy to keep me afloat on the toughest days but today I knew I needed to have human company so I drove to a pretty town that had a beautiful cafe filled with cat photos and sat there enjoying just being ‘in company’ – maybe not in my company but it was still company. So, that pushed me up the emotion ruler. I went from a 5 to a 6!
So, If you are sitting there in the ‘why me’ space, under the gaze of the magnifying glass of Christmas, start with getting out of the ‘cup-de-sac’. Yes, physically walk away. Yes, feel the feelings, but walk with hope, find a purpose (small or big) to give yourself a break away from the over-thinking and learn! The purpose can be from ‘taking that walk you keep putting off’ or ‘ringing someone that needs that call’ to whatever is purposeful. Then, keep learning what works and doesn’t work when that space sucks you in again. The fact is: lessons repeat themselves until we learn.
So, as I sit under the tree and the twinkling lights, I too at times will find myself sitting under the magnifying glass of Christmas and in that ‘why me’ space. But the difference between this Christmas and many past Christmases is now I have a life purpose: rescuing and giving a sanctuary to needy animals that we can fit in. In fact if I really became mindful and filled my head and heart with gratitude, I would realise they are my Christmas everyday – with all the ups and downs it brings.
I once was a very reluctant rescuer – unable for the suffering of animals that crossed my path, so I had to rescue them to also ease my own pain probably. Today I’m just a rescuer – well, probably more a carer of this pretty big rescue family here. I ask the ‘Why me?’ less and just admit ‘this is me!’ And that’s a better fit. Like swimming with the tide rather than against it.
Yes, the magnifying glass of Christmas will always make the problems bigger than they are and for me accentuate what is often a lonely place to be when you hold a dying animal or watch a horse limp out of a box half-starved or wonder how you’ll manage the next big vet bill and that is when you step out from under its glare and remind yourself, as my late mum use to always remind me or often sing to me, ‘one day at a time’.
Happy Happy Christmas x