Holiday Solstice

by Dian Reid-Jancic· Follow Dian on

We are told that there is strength in numbers. That united we will stand, and divided we will fall. That two is better than one. That being alone is difficult. That no one should be alone. That alone is for suckers. Especially during the Holidays.

I have consciously and unconsciously believed this crap for years. While there’s certain truth in each statement, there’s also a false sense of security in being around others simply because we’re in a time of need. I know this first-hand.

Solstice. [sol-stis; sohl-stis]
—noun

  1. Astronomy .
    • either of the two times a year when the sun is at its greatest distance from the celestial equator: about June 21, when the sun reaches its northernmost point on the celestial sphere, or about December 22, when it reaches its southernmost point. Compare summer solstice, winter solstice.
    • either of the two points in the ecliptic farthest from the equator.
  2. a furthest or culminating point; a turning point.

In 1991 my mom died suddenly; a shock to everyone. And even though six months had passed by the time Christmas rolled around that year, I was still depressed and grief stricken as my family and I opened gifts around the Christmas tree. There was snow on the ground, fire beneath the mantle, food cooking in the kitchen, and probably close to $3,000 in gifts from Santa and others. Still, I could not pull myself together to be “happy” like everyone else.

My grandfather decided that he’d had enough of my “negativity” and pulled me aside to tell me so. He made it clear that everyone else was able to keep themselves together, and that he didn’t understand why I felt it necessary to “bring down the whole goddamn house with [my] blubbering”. If I hadn’t been just sixteen (or scared of my Air-Force-Lieutenant-Colonel-grandfather), I might have shoved him aside, or defended myself, or simply dismissed him by walking out of the room. I did nothing.

::

I seek solstice in the midst of my aloneness.

Many years later it dawned on me that this was my grandfather’s way of being. It didn’t make it right or wrong, or even acceptable, it just brought reality to light. It also became clear that I’d rather be alone than around people who aren’t willing to just let me be.

I look back at that Christmas and I am ever grateful for the moments in that bathroom with myself after my grandfather walked out. He felt like he’d won, and as I sit here today, I’m okay with that. He did not win, because that’s not what my life is about. I learned. That’s what my life is about.

I see that moment as a turning point in my life. A shift from being a child who was unable to protect herself from the big, scary Colonel, whose standards she could never live up to, into the woman I am today. The thing is, there have been a lot of me’s along the way, shifting and changing and ebbing and flowing and growing into this beautiful spirit that I have always been. Without that moment, I may not have seen or become the woman I am now.

In the moment my grandfather was berating me, I wished I could crawl into the toilet and disappear. What a vision! In the moment he walked out the door, slamming it behind him, I wished I could scream so loud it would pierce his heart so he would know how much he hurt me. And in the moment I was finally alone, I sobbed, finally able to feel the grief I’d been fighting all morning long, wishing for nothing more.

Solstice.

In my

Aloneness.

The only way it would come.

::

As the Holidays roll around this year, I am neither grief-stricken nor depressed. Yet, I still find myself seeking solstice, seeking aloneness, as I move my way through this Holiday season. It is not because anything is wrong, but more because things are as right as they may have ever been in my life. I am ever-present in my journey of growth, love, light, and peace.

I do not expect my journey to be without retreat, darkness, or turmoil; I expect it to be full of life.

There will be times to rally for strength in numbers and stand united for what’s important. For sure I will spend time as two, and it will be better than being just one. I will sometimes be alone, and it will sometimes be difficult. And when it is, I will again seek solstice in my aloneness, for I am not—and never will be—a sucker.

::

 

This post is written as a part of a Holiday round-robin, Support Stories: Strength from Within, facilitated by the lovely Square Peg Karen of Square Peg Reflections. I would demand that you head over there immediately and check out every last round robin post, but I’m not really the demanding type. Oh come on, just go read, you know you want to …

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  • Dian, this is right smack TO-THE-HEART! Thank you so much!!

    I love how you wrote that your life is about learning – and that you were doing that DEEPLY even back when you were only 16. My heart hurt while I read what the 16 year old you went through — and I think it (my heart — in case I’m totally confusing here) stretched to a permanently bigger size as I read the rest of your post. What a wonderful woman you are!

    • I don’t think I was consciously doing much deep learning when I was 16. But this reminds me that even when we think we’re not learning, when we’re just trying to survive, we’re creating the foundation from which to learn. My grandfather was one of the most difficult people I’d ever dealt with in my life, and one of my greatest teachers.

  • I absolutely empathize with 16-year-old you. I still can’t believe it’s legal for people to tell others to stop crying. That’s the absolute worst thing you could say at some times, you know? Here’s to feeling your feelings and being there for yourself.

    • Thank you, Kylie =) Yeah, it’s so crazy to me that crying invokes such strong reactions from other parties, when the crying generally has nothing to do with them, but what’s going on internally.

  • Thank you for sharing this story and reminding us that all of the players in our lives are our teachers, even if the lessons are sometimes hurtful or difficult.

    Thank you for embodying the lesson in a way that has you bring the gift of your strength, insight and courage to the rest of us.

    I love your weaving of solstice and solace. brilliant!

    • Thank you, Kathy. My grandfather was a great teacher in my life, but not because he meant to be. When I finally realized that he was just as human as I was, I also realized just how much I could learn from him and his rigid ways.

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  • Dian-
    I so relate to that 16-year-old you, and the you that’s here now. And I never noticed how close solstice and solace where to each other. Perhaps this is solitude, that space that we give ourselves when we can just be ourselves, and really, what better gift is there?

    • So right, Bridget. I hadn’t really thought of how close solstice & solace were, either. And yet, there they are, the perfect companions when we give them the space to be. The gifts that keep on giving, ha! Thanks for stopping by & relating =)

  • this is beautiful Dian. there is so much power in BEing and feeling in our alone-ness, and this is a fabulous reminder of that.

    • Thanks, dear =) So nice to see a little Olive & Hope around here =) I hope you’re well & feeling the love & light I send your way whenever you pop into my mind! xo

  • Dian, this is beautiful, heartbreaking, and inspiring all at once.

    What strikes me is that your grandfather, in this story, is pretty much the externalization of the aspect of my personality I call the Drill Sergeant. And I know I’m far from alone in having such a self-critical inner voice.

    Your grandfather’s berating you like that is the type of behavior that trains us to internalize that “suck it up and don’t you dare make things difficult for others” attitude, and say those kinds of things to ourselves.

    We need more stories from self-aware and self-compassionate people like you to remind us that it’s okay–and healthy, and yes, even desirable–to allow ourselves to feel deeply and fully.

    And to take all the alone time we need in the process.

    • Michelle — Funny, I sometimes recognize that self-critical inner voice as my grandfather. Even give him my own voice, just to confuse myself at times =). What’s nice is to be able to distinguish the difference between him and me, and give myself the grace others in my family were to busy (judging me) to give.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment =)

  • Akasa WolfSong

    Very inspiring, very beautifully expressed, and a huge thank you for sharing such an intimate part of yourself…
    We are all teacher/student at the same time and I rejoice with you that your Grandfather unwittingly taught you that perception and created a space for deep growth and potential.
    Many Blessings to You as we go through this holiday season…I will think of your story and let it be a balm to my spirit and soul.

  • Dian,
    What a powerful post, and an amazing story. As Karen wrote, my heart hurt when I read how you were treated. Only sixteen…of course you were crying, sobbing, grief-stricken. Your story is such a clear example of how we naturally need to grieve. It’s a natural process. And now you are sharing your wisdom with us. Thank you. What a gift you are to us all.
    Love to you, dear,
    Julie

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