Christmas is almost unbearable for me

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lady_katie
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16 Dec 2012, 4:09 pm

And on top of that I feel guilty about being a "scrooge", like I'm letting my husband and toddler son down. Ten years ago, my best friend was killed by a drunk driver on Christmas Eve. Since then, I haven't been able to stop associating this trauma with everything that's supposed to be happy about Christmas. I have very vivid memories of the last night that I ever saw him, and they all involve Christmas lights, decorations, gift giving, a holiday party and friends. Now, no matter how hard I try to get over it, all of these kinds of things make me very upset to be around. I used to try to decorate in small ways, but I've given up on it. Gift giving has turned into a horrible obligation. Everywhere I look is a trigger, and the closer we get to the holiday's the more overwhelmed I become.

Not to mention the general sensory overload of it all - the lights, music, activity, shopping in crowded stores, crazy drivers, etc. My friends and family ridicule me for not doing Santa with my son. My parents refused to visit last year because they wanted to be around decorations on Christmas. I feel an enormous amount of pressure to buy gifts for my sister's in law because no matter how nicely I ask them not to buy for us, they always insist on giving us some novelty gift that immediately get's stuffed in the closet or garbage. I honestly don't want them wasting their money. Now my husband is pressuring me into buying them novelty gifts. We're adults, they live 3 hours away, I never talk to them, and I'm barely treading water trying to survive this month and I have to feel pressure to spend money that we don't have on gifts that people won't like.

Then there's the "Christian Aspie" side of me that just cannot make any sense of how any of these traditions have anything to do with the birth of Christ. It's very, very difficult for me to find the motivation to do things for no reason than the fact that "everyone else does it". It makes me very uncomfortable to walk into a church that's decorated in pagan objects as a tribute to Jesus. I just can't wrap my head around any of it. I've heard everyone's theological argument's that are in favor of it, and I've even been patronized by someone who sent me a children's tape that explains the true meaning of Christmas in simple terms (guess they felt they had to dumb it down for me), and yet I still cannot find a way to enjoy Christmas, from a religious perspective either.

I really am just a scrooge. I'm a miserable person this time of year. If I could just bury myself until January, I would.

If anyone has any advice on ways that I can better cope with this time of year, please share. This is a real problem for me and it just keeps coming around and around and around again. It's a nightmare for me, and every year I have to relive it. On top of that, I carry around heaping piles of guilt for raining on everyone else's parade.



2wheels4ever
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16 Dec 2012, 5:51 pm

lady_katie wrote:
Then there's the "Christian Aspie" side of me that just cannot make any sense of how any of these traditions have anything to do with the birth of Christ. It's very, very difficult for me to find the motivation to do things for no reason than the fact that "everyone else does it". It makes me very uncomfortable to walk into a church that's decorated in pagan objects as a tribute to Jesus. I just can't wrap my head around any of it. I've heard everyone's theological argument's that are in favor of it, and I've even been patronized by someone who sent me a children's tape that explains the true meaning of Christmas in simple terms (guess they felt they had to dumb it down for me), and yet I still cannot find a way to enjoy Christmas, from a religious perspective either.



The pastor at my church presents it in a sensible perspective. He does a pretty good job of explaining how Xmas got to be how it is, and yes, X is perfectly acceptable as a representation of the Cross. What I learned from him is that Martin Luther himself was inspired to place candles on a fir tree in response to his feelings about God. How does this help? Maybe it doesn't but maybe it will facilitate an understanding of how all of these symbols are just a small piece of celebrating that God really doesn't want to send anyone to eternal damnation and in fact desires a real relationship with his creations. If you look at the tree as being a wallet photo of God and not the portrait there shouldn't be any internal conflict. There isn't any inherent 'golden calf' in any of the symbols, but rather when those small minutiae become deified as having any power in themselves, that's when the problem begins - anyone who believes a doorknob is capable of giving life and sanity needs to seriously analyze that situation. At any rate HTH


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Ilka
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17 Dec 2012, 7:38 am

I think you need to find someone to talk to do you can overcome the death of your friend. Your husband and son do not have to suffer for something that happened 10 years ago. My husband and I are agnostic. We do not belong to any religion, but we do celebrate Christmas. Why? Because it is important for the people we love, so we share the celebration, reunite, and exchange gifts with them. And we also buy presents for our child. Why? Because having AS is enough. She does not like being single out. And all the other children receive presents for the holidays. So she does, too. And when the other kids ask "why did you get for Christmas" she can tell, she can share stories, toys, etc. My Aspie husband is a little of a scrooge too for things that happened way before we met. So I know first hand how it feels. It aint pretty. He used to suck all the joy out of our holidays. Made us feel miserable. Until I started ignoring him and enjoying the holidays for me and my kid. Let him aside. Then he started to change little by little. And now at least he is there, does not complain, and shares the same space with us... sometimes even smiles. It does not matter if you do not find logic for the festivity. Do it for your family. Their hapiness should be important enough for you. And if you do not want to buy presents, bake something. I have done that many times (not this year). Believe me: that will not end up in the trash.



CockneyRebel
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17 Dec 2012, 8:22 am

I agree with the above poster. You should goo and see someone so that you will be able to enjoy Christmas again. Your child and husband will thank you.


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17 Dec 2012, 8:08 pm

I get crushingly isolated at Christmas too for the same reasons as you, apart from the bereavement association.
My first thought is that you need better communication and acceptance from your husband. I don't think it is your responsibility to give your husband a good Christmas; he should get that simply by virtue of being with you.
Second, you probably have to make some sort of effort for your son - though, again that needs decent communication with your husband to help shield yourself from the sensory overload of a toddler suddenly being plied with loads of inane plastic rubbish.

I get ridiculed at Christmas also. I am in my fifties and told my mum the other day that "I don't understand Christmas". She laughed in my face.

If at all possible I cope with Christmas by hiding away and putting loads of alcohol and drugs down my neck, though that's not much of an option when kids are involved.

As for the bereavement association, talking therapy can help. And this is a "visualisation" which I find useful: picture your loss as an animal of some kind, any kind - part of you never wants to lose this animal, yet it sits on your shoulders, weighs you down and helps to condition your responses. You're never going to lose this animal and part of you doesn't want to, but he does not always need to sit on your shoulder. If you look at him from time to time out of the corner of your mind then one day you might find that he is walking beside you...
Our true losses never leave us.

Me this year? I told my new girlfriend (probably ASD also) that I was not going to get her a present, didn't want one, and didn't want trees, decorations, dinners and festivities. She said: "oh, thank you, this is going to be the best Christmas ever, ever."

But that's just my Christmas for this year, doesn't help with yours. Best of luck.