Content warning: Mention of eating disorders, death, dying, miscarriages, mental and physical illness.
This is a post as much directed toward me as it is written by me for others….
I cried on Christmas day.
It felt rude. It felt ungrateful. It felt like an overreaction. It felt self-pitying.
I was in a tropical paradise, with a caring family and boyfriend, I had gotten a great family secret Santa present, drunk mimosas, had a good fry up for breakfast and laughs and fun. But then I got to the incredible Christmas lunch spread and I couldn’t handle it anymore, and I cried.
The food looked so good – it was all my favourite Rarotongan food – but I couldn’t eat it all. I could eat some of it, but not some of the best dishes (they’re all the best dishes).
I have an Inflammatory Bowel Disease and I can’t eat the best tasting ingredients that are in most recipes (onion, garlic, dairy, and more). These foods are extremely important in certain recipes and wouldn’t taste right without them so I wouldn’t want them removed for my sake.
But I just wanted to eat them. So so bad. But I couldn’t. So I cried.
I miss my old body, I miss my old bowel, I miss all the food I haven’t been able to eat for 6 months without getting wildly ill. I’m angry that I’m having to avoid the food I love, for the sake of not feeling horrendous. I’m angry that I don’t get a pass for Christmas. There is nothing anyone can do. It’s not fair.
I had to go for a little walk and feel sorry for myself, vent to my boyfriend, and then suck the tears back up and enjoy my delicious lunch (what I could eat) as if nothing was wrong and ignore the gentle pitying eyes around the table looking at me like the fragile little girl I felt like.
The food was delicious and I had a really great day full of inappropriate jokes, rosé and lots of laughs. But the honest fact is that I cried at the dinner table on Christmas day. Just like you’re not supposed to do.
It might have felt silly, or rude or ungrateful. Maybe it was. But I’m here to tell myself, it’s ok that you cried on Christmas day.
Christmas is a day hyped up to be a perfect day, full of family, presents, food and good times. But not all days can be perfect – it’s an unfair expectation to put on one day.
And it’s ok that you don’t feel perfect on this festive holiday too. No life is perfect either. That’s an unfair expectation to put on yourself.
There are many reasons that Christmas could be a really hard or sad day for a person.
You could have lost someone important to you, this year or earlier, you could have had a miscarriage, you could be away from your family. You could have someone in the hospital or very ill right now. It could be hard to feel like someone or some people are missing from your table. You could be struggling when you’re not sure you are able to or allowed to feel happy.
You could have a new or old or undiagnosed mental or physical illness. It could be hard to try to push through it to enjoy the day. You could be in the hospital or bedridden or home-bound. You could be feeling like you should be able to celebrate, but not necessarily able to properly.
You could have, or be recovering from, an eating disorder. You could have GI issues, a GI disease, or no bowel at all. You could be finding the huge focus on food a huge physical and emotional weight on you.
These reasons, and ANY other reason you may have, are perfectly good reasons to cry on Christmas or any occasion that is supposed to be a happy day.
Not all days are happy, not all days are easy. Hard days can be any day, including Christmas.
Not all lives are easy either. These days full of expectation seem to exacerbate that.
Being sick sucks. Being sad sucks. All of these things suck. But being a public holiday, doesn’t automatically remove the suckiness.
Let yourself cry, let yourself feel how you feel. Maybe you’ll be able to push through, maybe you won’t. Neither is a sign of winning or losing – you can’t win or lose a day. A day just is, it comes and goes and it does not hold judgement.
And keep in mind, you’re not the only person who cried at Christmas.
You are not alone.
Other people will have cried. Other people will have stayed in bed. Other people will have had to leave early, or not go at all. Other people will have been frustrated. Other people will have gotten angry. Other people will have felt like they failed.
And other people will have had anything from an ok day, to an all-round terrible day.
We’re out there, quietly. Posting happy pictures on our Instagrams. Projecting an image of what we wished our day was. Trying to live up to all of the happiness that everyone else is posting.
But we all know that social media is not a good representation of the truth.
The truth is that you are allowed to feel bad, even on Christmas. A lot of people do.
The truth is that even if you don’t realise it, you are strong and you are doing well.
You made it through.
Congratulations, and Merry bloody Christmas, from a fellow crier.
If this post brought up difficult feelings for you, below is a link to connect you to a range of support services in New Zealand
Emergency In NZ, ring 111 for emergencies.
Global Try google helplines in your area or in an emergency, call your local emergency number.