Where are you Christmas?

 

A song that I like during Christmas is the song “Where are You Christmas?”.   There are Christmases that I connect with it more than others. The Christmas after my father passed away was one of those that I felt disconnected from the holiday season. I didn’t know that I would just have 2 more Christmases with my mother after my father passed, that she would pass away as well. Though those aren’t the only times that the song has applied.

Life is about change and that change sometimes is hard to adjust to. My first real coherent memories of Christmas was the Castle Family Christmas when everyone tried to make it in to my grandparents to enjoy Christmas together. I remember the love felt during that time. The gifts weren’t special but the love was very special. Then it disappeared when my grandparents passed away. So Christmas changed.

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Sandi’s mom appreciating a christmas basket we put together one year

Then I got married and we would juggle which parents would get Christmas and which one would get Christmas Eve. With the kids, it became a special thing to me again. Watching their little faces light up to all the magic of the season. My wife’s father would do a Christmas hunt for her and myself every year and the kids would get such a kick out of watching us try to figure out the clues. We’d have Christmas at home as well. You know the kind where everyone is in their pajamas, you have hot cocoa and you watch with anticipation as the kids open their gifts.

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My Dad wanted a record player for sometime so surprised him with one.

The Christmas after my father passed felt so empty to me, but I never really said that to anyone. My father had a special place in his heart for Christmas, and with him gone it just felt empty to me. So Christmas had changed again. After mom passed, I found myself thinking how we needed to work out whose house we would go to on what day only to remember that we weren’t going to one house anymore. That was a hard change for me.

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My Mom would get excited over any gift no matter how small.

Christmas changes again as my wife’s father has Alzheimer’s. With some things becoming more difficult some traditions are going to the wayside because of his disease.

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Sandi’s Dad loves Labradors. Doesn’t matter the size.  Love seeing a smile on his and my daughter’s face.

Though one of the interesting changes for me is as the kids have gotten older and our own traditions change. Christmas was always me finding events for us to go enjoy. From a candlelight Christmas in Vandalia to a candlelight walk in Augusta. I was always finding different things to do with lights, etc. I would spend quite a bit of time on event sites planning out the holiday season. Those things have kind of gone away, especially with busy schedules and etc. Something I miss quite a bit.

This year is an off year for me. I am finding it hard for me to get into the Christmas spirit. My tree was just put up today but no decorations yet. I can’t even explain what is wrong, just that this year is different for me. Though I know one thing about Christmas will always remain with me and that is the Love. Love is the biggest connection I have to Christmas from that of the Christmas story to the love of family and friends. Love is the one thing that doesn’t change.

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Duquoin has a great light display with an inside thing with trees, shows, etc. My kids and wife being patient with me taking the pic.

 

In fact it is Love that makes some Christmases harder than others.   So no matter how Christmas changes for me, as long as I can feel the love it is a good Christmas.

I hope you have a great holiday season and hope you feel love this season and always

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Make a comeback

When I lost my mother almost a year and a half after my dad passed away, the song I played a lot was “Comeback” by Redlight King. I knew having to take care of everything again would push me to my limits, and especially since this time I wasn’t doing it to help someone, but just because I had to do it. I didn’t realize how right I was about it pushing me.

A few months after my mother passed, I broke. I sat in my doctors office with only one request – give me something. I was barely holding on at that point. I was crying and getting emotional at everything. I had stopped dealing with life for the most part. The only thing that kept me motivated was going to work at the church. It gave me some kind of purpose and the people there were wonderful.

So I sat for the first time in my life admitting defeat against my emotions. I don’t give in easily, but I knew that I couldn’t keep going broken like that. So I was sitting there asking for drugs to help me, something that even in the darkest moments of depression I refused to do, because I knew I was strong enough to get me out and avoid non-existance.

Now after losing both parents, and the task both times falling on me as an only child to close their affairs. I hit a point where I just fell apart unable to function like a normal human on the inside, even though I tried to put on a good face outwardly. Everything fell apart.

I no longer wanted to even mess with paying bills and dealing with anything that created stress. Their deaths caused a ripple effect in my life, and as I collapsed so did other things. I wasn’t sure I’d ever be me again. In fact, I was sure I wouldn’t be me again ever. See this wasn’t like my past, where people did things to me and I could reason out things and accept that it wasn’t my fault. This time it was me doing this to myself. It was me that was collapsing on the inside and tearing away every bit of strength I had to fight. The reality that I was strong and could handle anything was shattered by me.

That’s a reality blow I didn’t think I would bounce back from. See unlike depression, which I could reason out of and realize that it could be various things, including that I would later find out my body just doesn’t like serontin the way it should, so I need something to help it. This was wholly different, nothing like what I had dealt with before. I had no clue how I was going to get out of it because well, I had no ability to reason my way out of it. I had become the very thing I hate to be….weak.

I have no problem with other people being weak sometimes and needing help, but I’m not weak. I take a lot of pride in being strong, not just physically but mentally. With what I’ve dealt with in my past, strength was my way out. I was strong like Superman, like the character I looked up to that was moral, kind, defended the weak and was strong. I was no longer strong though. I was someone that needed to be saved and I hated that. I despised that. Which brought on a bought of depression that I was not prepared for.

So I had an anxiety break and then depression came knocking, reinforcing just how weak I was. So I existed for quite awhile putting emphasis on the things I cared about and letting everything else just slip. I was sure I wasn’t going to be able to make a comeback. Even if the song made me feel like I could.

So fast forward to today. I am sitting there trying to deal with the main worship computer, which has decided to be stubborn, when my wife starts texting me about her father having an episode today. He has Alzheimer’s, and today he had an episode which was upsetting to her and her mother. I saw the words in the text stating that he said he didn’t care if he ever talked to her again, and I immediately called her. After some distance I realized something. I had made a comeback.

In hindsight, each trial presented to me was actually building me back. In fact last year when Sandi landed in the hospital needing 2 pints of blood, I handled it. It caused a lot of anxiety on me, but I handled it. When Casandra totaled the car, I handled it. The irony is that my breaking point 2 years ago, was when my other daughter totaled our car on the way to get her license. This week, with the various things early this week and today, I handled them.

Today I realized I had made a comeback, because I realized I didn’t hestitate to immediately call Sandi or to form a plan. Even though I cried a little while talking to her, I remained intent on her. I also then took care of the worship computer so there is something in place for Sunday. And this on a day that I forgot to take the things that help me function better, including that I had forgotten to take my blood pressure meds.

I also have our finances back on track which had slipped. So while each trial handed me after my break seemed like just another thing to crush me, it was actually somehow helping me build back. I would imagine in part because with each trial I pushed to handle it. I made effort to deal with it. After all I am a fighter not a flighter, so my natural instinct is to roll up my sleeves and just push through. Though that is really hard when anxiety and depression has taken your will to do so from you. So it was a nice realization when today I became aware that I had actually made a comeback.

It is nice to feel strong again. It is nice to feel confident again, but I didn’t do it on my own. In fact there is so much to say for faith, love, and patience. If it wasn’t for my wife, children, friends, and my work at church (especially the people at my work), I don’t think I would have made it.

So to all of those that helped support me, showed confidence in me, and helped boost me up when I had fallen so far, I just want to say Thank You. You have no idea what it means to me. I can tell you one thing. You can’t move mountains on your own, you need a good support team helping you. Thank God for believers. Also thank God for placing the support there for me, like finding the job at the church just months before my mother would pass.

I had a strange thought that I somehow I needed to break, so I could come back, so I could be prepared for what is to come. Because in some ways I feel stronger than I was before. In other ways a little weaker, but I think the parts that are stronger are the parts I’m going to need.

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