Life Lately: Slowing Down

You may have noticed that I’ve been a little quiet lately.

This year has been nonstop. Going from planning our wedding in less than 7 months to our busiest season at work, blog partnerships, and getting sick a few times forced me to slow down. I needed a break from rounding up favorite products and sharing advice, and posting because I feel like I “should” isn’t my thing. Blogging happens nights and weekends, and scaling back felt better than  staying up writing until midnight when my heart isn’t in it. I do miss blogging though, so I’m going to give it another go soon.

That being said, here’s where my head has been.

It all started with wedding planning last spring. The actual planning process wasn’t really that bad and I couldn’t wait to be married. Our wedding weekend was one of the best weekends of my life but my family wasn’t involved and I had a lot of trouble coping with that. My answer was to want to avoid the whole thing to skip over the pain of what was going on with my mom. I’ve learned that no matter how old you are and no matter how much parents let you down, you still want them to love you and be happy for you. There was so much anxiety going into our wedding because I was sure I’d feel really sad not having family there. Fortunately, I was surrounded by love and couldn’t have been happier, but there were moments I definitely missed out on.

I’ve mentioned that my dad has been out of the picture since I was 19 (and was very in and out before that). He wasn’t meant to be a parent – something I accepted years ago. I’ve stayed as vague about things with my mom as possible with the hopes that they’d change but I have come to realize that’s not happening. And it really, really sucks. Even though she’s never had an interest in reading my blog, it’s not just my story to tell and I want to be fair to everyone involved. What I do feel comfortable saying is that our relationship has been up and down my entire life. No matter how hard I try, it is never enough. I have never been enough. At this point, it seems like it’s not ever changing but there’s still that little part of me that hopes it will.

I suppose it all feels heightened given that I made another effort to reach out on Thanksgiving which subsequently blew up in my face. Also the holidays which are usually pretty up and down for me. I love the holidays and can’t begin to tell you how happy I am that this is the first holiday I’ll be spending with family (Conor and our family) in 7 years. Even though I have them, there’s that part of me that’s sad about everything with my own family. I promise I’m ok. Right now, I’m focused on the good, because there’s so much of that. My husband and our almost 2 months of marriage. Our family. My amazing friends who are basically family.

When things feel difficult or sad, I’ve learned that it’s best to do things that make me happy. Conor and I are planning a night out this weekend, we have brunch plans with friends, I’m stopping by my mother in law’s house to see all the updates since she’s moved in, and then we’re having dinner at Katie and Pat’s new house. And we’re starting to look at places (just to see what’s out there) since we’re listing our home in the next few months.

I’m sharing this because a. I want to let you guys know what’s going on and b. if the holidays have felt tough for you considering family stuff, let this be a reminder that you’re not alone.

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  • This is the first Christmas I’ll spend not speaking or seeing my parents. My mom was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was very young and my father has been an abusive alcoholic my entire life. A few months ago, after much therapy, I let them know I was still trying to heal from 30 years of pain and would reach out to them when I was ready. I’m still not ready and not sure if I’ll ever be ready but the holidays put such a strain on already tough decisions. I spent so much time thinking about what to do – do I send a card? a gift? do I break the silence even though I’m not ready and risk the boundaries I’ve created? I had so much guilt about causing them pain but realized that’s how people who grow up like this are trained to think. We’re trained to think our reasonable actions are deserving of cruel consequences and if we would only do the “right” thing everyone would get along. It’s tragic for everyone involved and I sincerely mean everyone. I have empathy for my parents but through therapy I’ve realized their pain and issues are for them to solve and do not outweigh my own. I’m sure Christmas day will still be hard and I’ll spend some time being kind to myself about my choices but right now I feel relieved. I’m glad this post came out and gave me the chance to articulate some of the things that have been going through my head. If anyone else has a similar story know that its ok to put yourself and mental health first.

    1. Huge hugs, Ashley! It’s hard to put yourself first when your parents cannot. I know that pain all too well and I applaud your courage to do so.

    2. I’m so sorry, Ashley. Some advice I got was to just focus on each day. So for today, you’re not ready. I didn’t receive a gift but sent one last year. Felt like the right thing to do. A bit torn on this year. It doesn’t feel right but doesn’t feel “nice” not to. I guess I should but whenever I do something it usually blows up in my face. Christmas Day will be tough but you can still create some of your own memories, will get through it, and for what it’s worth, you’ve already made me feel less alone (and probably other people who read this), so you’re using your story for good.

      1. Thanks for responding, Danielle. I’m happy to not be alone in this and always so grateful you allow us to read about the tougher parts of your life. It’s a gift.

  • Thank you for sharing. My mom and I also have a very challenging relationship. My feeling is that unfortunately you can’t choose your parents and have to accept they can’t or won’t be the parents you wish they could/would be, or that you need. Like you, I have wonderful in-laws and friends and am I’m lucky for that. But I’m still trying to accept that things with my mom will never be how I hoped. Sending you the best over the holidays!

    1. Thanks, Sarah. You can’t choose them and it’s so important to accept who they are, but sometimes, who they are just doesn’t work when it’s not enough. It’s so hard and takes a lot to REALLY accept it. Glad you have great in-laws and friends. Really helps, doesn’t it? Happy Holidays to you too!

  • It’s so helpful to know there are people going through similar situations. I hate what you and others are going through, but I too have a strained relationship with my mother and this is the first year I will spend not speaking to her. My father passed away years ago ago and it’s hard feeling like an orphan at the age of 31. I wish all of you the health and happiness you deserve and a wonderful 2018! Thank you for sharing parts of your story, Danielle. It’s truly helpful.

    1. I’m glad I could help, although I hate that anyone has to go through anything like this. So sorry you lost your dad. Mine didn’t pass away (that I know of) but I feel that way sometimes, too. It’s so hard. Hope you’re able to enjoy the holidays and wishing you the very best in 2018, too.

  • Oh honey, i am so sorry you’re feeling like this. The holidays, with all the happy family ads everywhere can make life feel particularly bleak when you’re not living that life. Remember that you are loved by a family – it’s just a family you’ve chosen, instead of the family you were born with. Lean on Conor – he’s your support, and by the sounds of everything you’ve shared with us, he’s a wonderful person that loves you deeply. I wish you happiness, health, but mostly i wish you peace during this challenging time. You are not alone. xxx

    1. You’re so right. Thank you. It’s still hard though. A lot went down this year and I’ve just been sad about it. It’s a grieving process. Happy Holidays to you! x

  • I want to say thank you for sharing so much with your readers:) it isn’t easy to let us know about this but you’re so right that it may help others to know they aren’t alone! I am so happy for everything good that’s going on with you! I just appreciate the good in my life and try to keep going through the not so good…………………things can change quickly and it’s amazing even in small ways when it does!

    1. You’re so welcome, Amy. It isn’t easy, but it can feel so isolating, and back in my 20s (ok, now too) it helps to feel less alone, or know I can do something positive with what I’ve been through / am struggling with.

  • I have Christmas PTSD – it’s around the holidays our family started to fall apart – and while I love every second of hanging ornaments on my tree and turning on the twinkle lights than adorn it, thinking about actual Christmas Day causes panic attacks. I’m very lucky to have my sister to go through this with me, and who will sit on the phone for 2 hours while I cry and explain how it’s hard for me.

    Sending warm thoughts for a joyful holiday with your new family and hope you are enjoying a few weeks of slowing down and just enjoying holiday lights, a bit of snow, and leisurely time with friends.

    1. I’m so sorry, Allison. You really are so lucky to have your sister – I’m really glad she’s been there for you. Hope you’re able to enjoy the holidays (at least a little bit) this year.

  • This post feels so relatable. My father has not been part of my life since I was a child and I have had an up and down relationship with my mom. It really never does feel like I’m good enough and I never know when she will ‘freak out’ about anything. We had a large falling out this past year and although we are on ‘talking terms’ now, I now try to keep communication to a minimum for my own sake. I will be spending Christmas with my partner and his family for the first time this year and although I feel thankful for this, it is still upsetting. Situations like this feel so complicated, I never know if I should give a gift or not, or if I should see my mom over the holidays or not, etc. On other holidays or special occasions, I never know the ‘right’ thing to do either, especially with extended family/relatives. I have decided to remove myself from these situations because of the dynamic with my mom. I don’t know how to deal with the sadness and confusion but reading this post made me realize that I’m not the only one and helps me to not feel so alone with issues like these. Thank you for sharing <3

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