Holiday Season 2021: Weird, Different, Good, (Did I Say Weird?)

The Christmas and New Year’s season blew in like a freight train barreling down the tracks and you are sitting at the train crossing waiting for it to pass. You can hear it. You can see it. You have to be patient with it. It shakes the ground. You can’t ignore it. And then it is gone and we move on with our lives once the gates go back up.

We made it! Getting through the holidays for some is a big feat. I wrote about what the holidays have meant for my wife and I in the past and present in my last entry. I love the holidays and everything it is supposed to mean, but it remains to be a difficult time for us even if just a little bit.

I am working to unpause my life and move on from my giant elephant in the room. There is a lot of life left to live and I want to ACTUALLY enjoy it in a way I think has been robbed from me. I’ve done some amazing things, and I’m sure it sounds like I am ungrateful for what I have been blessed with, but true enjoyment of even the best things in my life have proven difficult. It’s a crappy and numb feeling I certainly don’t want, but I feel it none the less.

The pause is a real thing. I haven’t thought about it in a while like I did in my last post, but it is real none the less. It is definitely in the way of where I am trying to steer myself towards. My goal is to work on unpausing my life and getting on with the rest of my life. I deserve to enjoy it, no matter how the past has affected it, and I fully intend to get to a point where I can hit play and keep it going.

Enter the weird, different, good (did I say weird?) time known as the Holiday Season 2021. At least this is how I would describe my holiday season. This year was totally weird and totally different, but it was a good one in the best and the strangest way all at once.

Covid hit every holiday celebration we had planned. Our Christmas celebration with my wife’s family was put on hold due to Covid and then our New Year’s plans were cancelled when the host of the party we were going to got Covid as well. Yep, you read that right. I’m guessing, as cases are spiking through the roof again, that we were not the only ones affected yet again by the pandemic which remains very real and very much a part of our present lives.

The events left us at home on Christmas and at home on New Years Eve. The holidays were ruined…or were they?

Covid cancelling both our Christmas and New Years plans is the “weird” part of this. The different part is how we ended up spending our Christmas and New Years at home.

The holidays ended up being far from ruined. I am extremely disappointed that we couldn’t get together with our family and our friends, but we did make the most of it. We hit “Play” and called a holiday audible.

This situation was ripe for the picking for our “Pause” button, but I am so proud of us that we didn’t sink into the hole of ruined holidays, but without blinking an eye, we ended up changing up our holidays for the 2021 season.

Christmas ended up becoming a feast. We ended up having dinner with our neighbors (good friends of ours) and we spared no expense. It was such a great day and it was so relaxed and I am super glad for elastic waistbands. We didn’t exchange gifts or anything like that with our friends, but we took it up another level none the less.

We enjoyed each others company. We talked and we laughed as we tend to do when we get together. We broke bread and further solidified our relationship as friends amid the fact that this wasn’t even the original plan.

Better than any material gift I could have received this year.

We made the absolute most out of a situation and time of year that we easily could have hidden at home and licked our wounds of our past, which love to open back up during this time of year. But we didn’t! We hit “Play” and it was great!

Christmas was weird. It was different. It was good. I am so happy that I can say that and also believe it.

Hit the “Play” button. I like this idea.

On to New Years…

Again we ended up at home as plans were altered due to Covid. We intended to just hang out at home. I was good with this. As a now non-drinker, I’m way less up for going somewhere and watching everyone get hammered. I love to see my friends. I want to see my friends. I will make it work to see my friends, but New Years isn’t the same to me as it once was. New Years used to be the green light to get as drunk as I possibly could. It’s the mission of a lot of people. That’s fine. I will never try and dictate what people do as I once believed the same way, but New Years has definitely changed for me personally.

Even with the non-drinking, my mind is still geared towards doing something on New Years. Staying home wasn’t necessarily unwelcome, but it does leave you feeling like you have nothing to do during a time where you should be doing something. Not that anyone has to do anything, but this is how I feel personally.

New Years ended up being super chill and super good. A friend of ours came down from the Chicago area and the three of us hung out.

It was awesome! Right up my alley really. We had a great time. Tons of music, chit-chat, and laughter. And sweat pants. It was unique to have a more “focused” New Years. One we could zero in on each other. With only a few people versus many, you tend to have all the fun conversations, but you also can dive into a deeper realm made not as easy when there is a lot of people.

This is what I got out of New Years. Hooray for the New Year. That’s all fine and dandy, but I really appreciated the more scaled down party and what comes with it. I really enjoyed hanging out with my wife and one of her oldest friends.

Of course it wouldn’t be me if my brain didn’t get involved with all of this. It never fails and it didn’t fail me this round.

I’m learning what it is like to be an “aware” introvert. Or at least to be aware and accept the fact that I am more introverted than not these days. I think I’ve always been, but I hid behind the disguise that alcohol provided me for so many years. Alcohol made me feel more extroverted. It clouded my reality and I believed I was more extroverted than introverted and once you practice a belief for so long, you begin to believe it. Doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. Repeat something enough and you will believe it.

This has been a big struggle of mine. I’m cool with the introversion if that is going to be the way it is. I am trying to be more open with myself and allow what is happening to happen even if I don’t always understand it at first.

My biggest struggle is figuring out where I really fit into the introversion scale versus it taking on a level where it can hinder me. Basically, figuring out what is real and what I am just allowing because it seems like the easy way to go. I’m trying to “just go with it”, but I also need to control it and adjust it to fit my life the way I feel is best.

Enter the weird, different, good Holiday 2021 season. Covid affected my plans. It is a factor of the lives we live right now. It’s going to continue being a factor. I in no way wish anyone to get it. I especially don’t want anyone to get it so that it changes our holiday plans and I get to stay home.

I have to admit I wasn’t terribly upset to stay home this year. As I figure all of this out, this time of year is exhausting. Every step of the way takes what feels like a ton of prep. The holidays and the days leading up to it tend to be a much more social time. Early celebrations with my side of the family, dinner with friends, visiting with friends I haven’t seen in a year due to distance.

It takes an incredible amount of energy to prepare for all of this. I do it because it is what I want to do, but it really does take a lot of prep and energy and it typically leaves me tired and the tiredness tends to open up some down days as my guard isn’t as strong as it is when I’m not tired. But I do it because I really want these experiences.

So when presented with the situation that plans change in such a way that I get to stay home, a part of me is relieved. It’s the truth. It allows me to keep my energy and not have to expend it all. I get to hold onto some. What bothers me is the level of relief I experienced when I knew I didn’t have to leave the house.

Again, I wish Covid on no one. I DO want to see my family and my friends and I do value the traditions we practice year after year with getting together. I cherish these moments. I want these moments.

With that said, I can’t help but feel bad for the level of relief I have felt with staying home. Embracing my introversion is a good thing. We have to embrace who we are as it allows us the ability to rise up as high as we want to, but I am still a novice at knowing and accepting my level of introversion.

I don’t always know how to control it. This is why my level of relief is alarming to me. Part of getting back to being me and finding my actual level of introversion involves me putting myself into challenging situations. We need to protect ourselves, but we also have to put ourselves out there when we aren’t the most comfortable. I feel this is how we grow.

I feel like I was given the chance to “cop out” of trying this year. I feel like I am getting away with something and that bothers me. I think it is OK to be relieved to stay home, but the level of happiness about it is what I don’t like. Be introverted, but don’t use it as a crutch and a hinderance. Don’t get out of life in the name if being introverted. Be introverted. Be extroverted. Be right in the middle. Be where you need to be on this scale, but know your real levels.

I am still learning what those real levels are. I don’t like the level of happiness and relief I have felt with the news that I didn’t have to try real hard this year. I totally did try as this years holidays ended up being awesome, but I am still left with the feeling that I “got away with something”.

I don’t like this feeling, but the feeling is present none the less. Now it is time to take what I am feeling and put it in it’s place along with everything else I am learning about myself as I continue to make the me I want. Nurture what I like and reshape what I don’t. Every experience is beneficial to this journey whether you like the feeling or not. We need all of these variables. It helps us to be better “doers”. It helps us to better be our true selves.

I want to keep pushing and striving to be my best self. I like the feeling of being on “Play” versus “Pause”. This year felt more like a “Play” year than some others and I really like how it looks and feels. What I will do is continue to reflect on the feeling that I “got away with something”, but not let it consume me. I need to put it in it’s place within the real me I am constantly pushing for.

Is this what “Play” looks like? I think it must look something like this, as this whole experience keeps me pushing, and keeps me striving for a better me for now and for the future. I do believe all of the experiences I’m having will assist me in pushing “Play” again in my life. This is a big one and it isn’t going to happen overnight, but the key is I want to try. I really do.

Things may present themselves as weird, different, and good. They can present themselves in a whole different way as well. I feel some guilt with the level of relief I experienced in getting to stay home, but I do try and tell myself that all of this is OK. Every bit of this keeps us moving forward.

Keep learning about yourself and keep moving forward!

I got this! You got this! We got this! Let’s keep walking together.

Have a great day!

Jason

Feel free to come visit me over on my website rockingmentalhealth.com. You will find my Blog along with a Podcast I have been doing. I also have some videos I have made amongst some other stuff. I enjoy using my creativity to help spread mental health awareness!

Who else out there has been using their creative/artistic side to help spread mental health awareness? I am hoping to finally press “play” on my not-for-profit website which will feature people like us…people telling their stories, using some form of creative media, to reach those that may need encouragement, hope and to know they are not alone.

Please, come join in! It is completely free. Send me an email at: jason.kehl@rockingmentalhealth.com and I will send you more information on what this is all about. We are stronger together and together we can spread mental health awareness across the world!

Published by Jason Kehl

Nurse, artist, musician. One I have done professionally and two that I have not😉. I enjoy creating art and music as a hobby. I do it mostly because it helps me to feel better or express something that I feel inside. I am a believer in Mental Health Awareness. My goal is to throw myself out there in hopes that someone sees it and can gain the strength to seek help or keep working on themselves. We are an unfinished product! That's OK!

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