It is the day before Thanksgiving, and all through the nation, people are frustrated, all thanks to our collective COVID-induced “staycation.” And as numbers continue to rise, hospitals are pushed to their breaking point, and mental health struggles surge, it might be difficult for many of us to know what the fuck it is we are supposed to be thankful for.
And I don’t normally swear, but I think I’m entitled to it because, well first of all it is my page. But secondly, because I am frustrated that COVID has limited my thanksgiving plans, and like many in this the nation, I will only be seeing most of my loved ones through Zoom. And it is important to recognize that that kinda sucks.
Too many people will perhaps say that we should be thankful anyway. Thankful for our health, thankful for a day off, thankful for beer, bourbon, and bowls and plates full of delicious food that will inevitably lead to the post feast stupor that we all know so well. And there are reasons to be thankful, no doubt, and I will get to those in a second. Yet one thing that I’ve learned during my recovery is that it is important to recognize your feelings and that it is okay not to be okay.
It is okay to feel sad tomorrow, or at the very least to greet the day with bittersweet emotions as you express thanks through Zoom instead of in person. It is okay to admit if the isolation caused by this pandemic is causing a bump in the road for you, especially if you are working on your recovery. It is okay, because it is real and it is you and it is important.
It is important to allow yourself to feel, to acknowledge those emotions. Because you matter, your feelings matter, and acknowledging that maybe this holiday isn’t the same as past holidays will help you appreciate next year’s holiday season when things are hopefully back to normal. It is important because if you try to cover any negative feelings you have with fake smiles as everyone tells you to be thankful for what you do have, those negative feelings will root around like the gremlins they are poking holes in your mental health and pulling you down even farther.
I say that from experience. I say that as someone who knows all too well how isolating it is to feel like the world sucks, and that you suck most of all. I know all too well how it feels to smile as you wonder who would notice if you weren’t around anymore. And I know how much worse it made things.
It wasn’t until I admitted that I was having a hard time that things actually got better. It wasn’t until I shined a light on my demons that I started to exorcise them.
So it is okay to feel whatever you are feeling this Thanksgiving week. If you don’t want to be thankful, that is okay. But if you do want to be thankful and are trying to figure out how, then here it is, here is how to be thankful in 2020:
Just be you.
Because you matter. The people who are in your life probably aren’t there because of any fake smile that you use to cover the edges. They are there because those dark edges you have line up with their dark edges. I am thankful that I know people who I can call and say, “this Thanksgiving just isn’t the same. It sucks and it is depressing.” And they’ll respond,”I totally get it, this does fucking suck.” And I don’t know if they help take my burden away or if I help take away theirs, but at the end of a call that was about how much this year sucks, I find that it sucks a little less. And I am thankful for that.
I am thankful that no matter how dark and depressed I feel, no matter what scary places my mind tries to take me to, I can talk about it and it is possible to actually feel better, which can seem like such an unlikely thing when you are in the midst of depression or anxiety or any other mental health crisis.
It gets better.
And the fact that it gets better is reason to be thankful, but sometimes it means acknowledging that you are a little less thankful this year because 2020 is worse than the Grinch.
Just some food for thought as your prepare your food for tomorrow. And just a note, there will be no new post tomorrow, so I will see you all again on Friday.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!