By Steve Simpson
As the holiday season would approach people would start talking about all the plans they had laid out for the holidays and began to become excited. For me, as the holidays approached a shadow of anxiety and pending sadness would start to hover over me. As others become more and more excited as the countdown to the holidays began, I would become more and more stressed. The commercials would say the holidays are for the family. The problem with me was that it was my family that usually ruined the holidays! For me, it meant I would be home more. And that also meant my abusive alcoholic father would be around the house more as well. Nobody looked forward to that.
In dysfunctional or alcoholic homes fighting tends to increase in the house; and if there are money problems, they become more apparent. The one common denominator between everybody seems to be depression, and everyone seems to get in each other’s way, because everyone’s instinct is to isolate and want to be alone, with the exception of one person – the alcoholic or addict who won’t leave anyone alone. As I got older, if I was in a negative or unhealthy relationship that would also bring down my holidays. I would spend a lot of time thinking about how things should be, and being envious of those who seem to have perfect lives. I would also make the mistake sometimes of thinking that maybe magically the holiday season would bring changes over everything and everyone. But when the holidays were over nothing changed, the alcoholic was still drinking and I was still lonely.
I’d blame it on God and the holiday. I eventually found that the holidays had nothing to do with my problems or depression, and it wasn’t God’s fault for the problems in my family. I began to look to the holidays for what they meant and what they were truly about. Instead of complaining about what should or shouldn’t have happened, dwelling on all of the negativity, being jealous or worrying about what’s going on in other people’s households; I concentrated on what the holidays truly meant. Hope, survival and faith.
Instead of me deciding what the holidays should have been about and what should have happened during them or complaining about all of the negative things going on, or even being jealous or worrying about what’s going on in other people’s households, I concentrated again on what the holidays truly meant. This allowed me to take the focus off of my problems and I became aware that there are bigger and wonderful things going on outside of my household. I also found that there are those who are far worse off than I am, and by trying to help those, whether it’s being encouraging to a friend or volunteering at a church soup kitchen, it does wonders for your self-esteem and outlook. Of course, by getting help yourself through counseling, self-help groups or 12 step programs, you’ll find that your self-worth increases and your perspective of things change. Also, no longer being vulnerable to other people’s abuse or negativity, the holidays automatically seem better.
Whatever religion you might be, many find that going to their house of worship with an open mind not only makes the holidays better for them but adds something to their lives. I can definitely tell you that’s true!
Steve Simpson is a child advocate, child abuse survivor and media commentator who just released The Teenage and Young Adult Survival Handbook — a small guide that is modestly tucked inside in all four of his YA adventure novels which covers most of the topics plaguing young people today—suicide, bullying, sexual abuse, physical abuse, verbal abuse, self-worth, being the child of an addict, living in a dysfunctional home, surviving school and more. Simpson was even recognized by President Barack Obama, former New York governor David Paterson and the County Executive of Nassau County for his efforts on behalf of abused children.