Every year for the last few years I’ve had a little weep on Christmas Day. For people like myself who don’t have someone to have Christmas cuddles with, who have no-one to give presents to and who’ll be eating their dinner alone, Christmas is not a day of celebration, but survival.
It’s the one day of the year that you’re expected to spend with your friends and family. So much so that when you tell people you’ll be spending the big day alone they look at you in complete, dumfounded bewilderment. Their minds unable to process that there are people on the planet who have no-one. People who are living in poverty; people who are homeless; people struggling with mental health issues; people who society have deemed to be irrelevant, inconsequential or so badly broken that it’s dangerous to become their friend.
Tomorrow there will come a time when my inconsequentialness strikes home and I collapse on the sofa for a half-hour crying session, wishing for the one thing many people take for granted; loving companionship. It’s become such a holiday tradition that nothing I do will stop it. The tears will come…but I’ll be ready for them.
What I wasn’t ready for were the tears that started to fall this afternoon, tears that quickly descended into a full on bawling session, complete with ghost-like wails, breathing difficulties and the occasional hiccup. And the reason behind such an unmanly response? Personally I think it was a combination of the anniversary of Samantha’s death, a release of the emotional stress that Christmas brings and because the triggering greetings card had cut through my heart and challenged everything I believe about myself.
And yes, you read that right, the trigger behind such an over-the-top reaction was a simple greetings card. A home-made card that members of the Hearing Voices Support Group I attend had made and signed with a variety of challenging words of affection:
♥ Andrew, you are so very wise and motivated ♥
♥ I admire your wisdom and the joy you bring to the group ♥
♥ You are a very valued member of the group, wise, creative and independent ♥
♥ You have been so brave this year ♥
Hours later I still can’t quite comprehend what people have written in the card. I’ve spent the better part of the last twelve months believing that my presence in the group was irrelevant, and as a result, that I am irrelevant. I’ve believed that my contributions were inconsequential, that no-one had noticed I was there and if they did notice my presence, they’d quickly come to wish I wasn’t.
But I was wrong. And I’m not sure what to do with it. I’m not used to hearing nice things about myself, I’m not used to other people giving me compliments, I’m not used to believing there are people in this world who actually notice my existence and who, for some inexplicable reason, occasionally enjoy being in my company.
It’s all a little too much for me to deal with at such an emotional and mentally challenging time of year, but it’s yet another event from the last twelve months that has me questioning how I view myself in comparison to how other people see me.
It’s yet another event that has me quietly commenting that maybe I’m not such a bad guy after all; that even though I’m spending Christmas alone, I may not be as badly broken as society would have you believe.