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]
- 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.
- 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.
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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