Creative people are sensitive people. We can enjoy the subtle differences among Yellows, a beautiful piece of music brings tears to our eyes, and a mall this time of year is the equivalent experience of throwing on all the lights at 3 a.m. when you were sound asleep. Overload to our sensitive systems can happen easily during most of the year when there is way too much stimulation and Christmas/Holiday time is all about mass stimulation, and yes, that sounded naughty.
My husband and I were brave enough to shop two stores during Black Friday. There were tremendous sales, people rubbing elbows in crowded aisles, overheated rooms and STIMULATION. After about an hour of grabbing what felt like anything shiny and half price, or even triple below the price, I felt like a kid opening up the twentieth present at Christmas. You are excited, happy, and a little fried and twitchy. I imagine this is what gamblers feel like after a big win. You want more adrenaline, more wins, more more! But being a sensitive person I felt the effect on my body as if I had a large glass of caffeine. I was wired and I had no idea how I was ever going to calm down. After several hours after shopping I started to come down and stare at what we bought. I don’t even know what we picked up. I wasn’t sure of my name. I forgot what month it was. And why was my left eyelid twitching so much?
Holidays are tough. I probably sound like a Grinch but I am just focused on the overwhelm heading my way. Unlike the kids, I have a different experience of Christmas. I remember last year spending DAYS wrapping until I never wanted to see Scotch Tape again. We spent money we didn’t have. The house was wall to wall decorations in weird places. And I am learning that for a parent there is a whole lot of the have-tos which make the experience not so much festive for an adult.
You have to:
- Buy presents for the mailman
- Fill out a Christmas Letter filled with exciting details of the year and I am notoriously private
- Send out holiday cards after you have no money for postage after you spent all the money on holiday gifts and brave the POST OFFICE LINE
- Decorate the front yard while trying to keep the new puppy in the backyard but she sees you in the front yard and is flipping out and trying to find a way out
- Send a gift to a relative who told you to disappear and have a good life
- Make cookies? I am notoriously awful at cooking so this really causes major stress
- And now the kids informed me they want to celebrate something called Advent. What is Advent? Does it involve buying more gifts or baking? Please say no.
- There’s decorating the church with Greens and driving around the neighborhood watching flashing lights so I can have a migraine.
- There’s holiday parties…I really hate small talk. It’s just cruel.
- There’s also lots of talk of Jesus, of course, which is a bit awkward when you are Jewish. Conflict of interest.
That’s a lot of Have To’s.
Is there a sure sign of overwhelm? You feel way bitchy. And I mean way. I bet my list even sounded a tiny bit bitchy. Your crankiness can spill all over and those nasty thoughts can even escape if you are not careful and you can scream the F word in front of the kids when you didn’t mean it, or tell one to please stop talking because your ears are going to explode. It doesn’t mean you are the Incredible Hulk having a moment, but it does mean you took way too much on and your circuits are frying. All this stimulation and constant excitement is not meant for a sensitive system. A small tree with a few lights in the middle of the Forest to visit? Yes, that sounds more like it.
Is there a solution??? This year I am having limits. A whole new concept I am learning. It’s an interesting thing that explains and sets what I can and can’t do, and what I am willing to do. You want cookies for your class? Well, then Dad will have to go buy some. Family wants to go to a holiday party filled with noise and kids running around? I am willing to do this one other thing like buy all the presents, but I will stay home and watch Rudolph with the Dogs while you visit. It doesn’t mean I don’t care or want to participate, or not part of the family, it just means that I need to take care of myself or Christmas will be renamed The Migraine Holiday, and January will bring in a bad case of the Flu. Thank you for understanding.
Happy limit making, my friends.
Dedicated to supporting my fellow creatives survive the Holidays,