It is that season again! That season when more than at any other time the myth of the happy family is idealized. It is the period when being together is mandatory; when saying you are having a quiet day spend mostly in your own company is met by a few seconds silence, followed by a weak smile and an inane comment such as ‘that’s nice!’
Yet for many of us this season is one of pain. Pain that ranges from the excruciating to the dull, deep throbbing that exhausts us as we do our best to get through each day. It is almost as if there is a cultural conspiracy to pretend our pain does not exist.
We become the lepers of Christmas. The unclean who remind everyone that behind all the tinsel, all the alcohol, all the merry making and all our best laid plans life is tenuous, uncertain and gifts pain in indiscriminate and careless fashion.
To all of us who struggle through this season, hiding our pain behind our smiles, waiting until we are alone before we let the tears of loss flow and our bodies shake with the intensity of our pain. To all of us in this situation I raise a toast!
We are survivors! We have not done, as I am sure we have often thought of doing - crossed that line between here and there. We have not closed the door on life, choosing instead to bear with whatever dignity we can muster the pain that has been given to us. We have survived, often when it has felt our fingers nails are being ripped out.
It takes courage, it takes dignity, it takes strength to be a survivor and these are the gifts you have given to the world by your determination, so I salute you.
Kahlil Gibran in his work in his work “Joy and Sorrow” writes
“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain”
That is little comfort when the waves of pain and sorrow are crashing around you and you feel your very existence is threatened. Sometimes in the midst of a storm you jettison everything to survive, except the lifejacket and perhaps Kahlil’s words give us a lifejacket to hang onto while sorrow and pain do its work of carving us into different people.
Perhaps when the storm of pain has lessened we will find our capacity for joy and acceptance has grown.