Occupying Darker Days

I’ve always found the Winter months difficult. When I was four, my father was killed in a motorbike accident, eleven days before Christmas. And even though my mother married again and we led a comfortable life, she would sink into depression each year, as British Summertime ended.

So, my memories of Halloween, Bonfire Night, Christmas and Hogmany are bittersweet. They became high points of enforced gaiety, which ~ in my naivety ~ I took as signs that she was ‘better’. But as soon as the 8ft pine Christmas tree was taken down and it’s baubles packed in the attic, her mood would descend back into darkness.

Years later my step~father died in Christmas week and December 8th marks the tenth anniversary of my mother’s death. Although I no longer grieve openly for my three lost parents, the sadness and anxiety that accompanies the ‘Happy’ Holidays has been ever~present.

Until now. Last weekend I was directed to Cathy Brown Sykora’s Rock The Holiday – Challenge Yourself! which began on Monday. I’ve decided to take it up ~ defining some important goals for myself and reporting progress to other members of the group. Turning the sorry season on it’s head and creating wholesome, happy memories instead of wishing that I could be wafted away from all the celebrations to some desert island!

I found this quote on Facebook that sums it up quite neatly:


I’m still working on those personal goals, waiting for the details to crystallise into manageable steps. I do know that, with the rest of my life more or less ordered, I’m going to focus on being kind and gentle with myself, for a change.

I’ll keep you in the loop πŸ™‚

Although I have chosen to link this post to ‘Occupy Blogosphere Thursday’, I plan to compose independent updates from now on. The Occupy Blogosphere movement was started by Amy, author of Souldipper’s Blog, to light up the Blogosphere with a shot of positive energy, each week. To read her most recent post ~ and for more information on how to join in, please click here:


17 thoughts on “Occupying Darker Days

  1. Jacqueline … the Holidays are not bright ones for me either … I love the preparation for them … and making them fun for others, but alas, when the days come … I want to be anywhere but ____! Unfortunately, I have even stopped putting a Christmas tree up … 😦 I am looking forward to your updates. Sending you healing energy! πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you so much for the healing, Becca, I am already feeling better ~ although it has taken me a few days to shake off the feelings of sadness brought up by writing this post. It’s amazing how many people tell me that they don’t like the holidays either, when I mention this challenge. πŸ™‚

  2. Sorry about those awful times, must be difficult for you Jacqueline. Quite a lot of people feel the same. Sometimes the media makes us feel forced to be happy, jolly and joyful when we only want to be normal. Lots of us live in a routine ordered life, and the adverts and shops make believe there’s a magical family where everying is fantastic, and if we don’t feel like that something’s wrong. You aren’t alone, sending love your way.

    1. Thank you for your kindness, Susan. You make a valid point about the media raising our expectations that there is a ‘perfect’ family and that we are lacking if we don’t fit that profile. I hadn’t thought about it that way before, so I’m grateful to you for pointing it out to me! πŸ™‚

  3. Best of luck. This book might interest you as you create a life that feels like a permanent vacation:


    Simplify Your Life is a wonderful reminder to live your life. By eliminating things that are not important to you, you find time for the things that really matter.

    The secret to happiness lies not in getting more, but in wanting less . . . and in appreciating what you already possess.

    And that, quite simply, is a lesson worth learning, and sharing.

    1. Thank you Nancy, I followed the link and read your earlier post, which I hadn’t seen before ~ really inspiring! You are absolutely right about simplifying life ~ it is what we are trying to do and now have most things in place but, I struggle to maintain my cheerful disposition at this time of year. Martin keeps telling me these are our ‘Golden Years’ and I’m hoping to break free from the past and to really ‘feel’ that, instead of just knowing it to be true! πŸ™‚

  4. Oh yes, those times of great expectations. We’re supposed to rise to the crescendos set by…well, by whom? These holidays set people up to see how they are not loved to the degree that we’re supposed to be loved…whatever that is! All man made, all fluff that detracts from what Love truly is. One of the greatest experiences I’ve had is wandering through my town on Christmas Day. Alone, silent, motionless streets…there was a feeling, a sense, a message that mingled with the snowflakes and, if I’d thought of expectations to have, the results outplayed every aspect of those expectations. Friends were shocked that I chose to be alone on Christmas Day as though it was a definite stamp of “Not Loved”. I protested their conditioned responses… πŸ™‚

    October is the month that used to knock me back with surprise. It’s the month of my Mom’s death and a cat that was the greatest little life and travel buddy. Yet, it’s also a time of celebration for a number of mile-stone-reasons. No matter how I prepared myself, it would whack me with mixed motions. This year, I introduced a new “biggie” and it’s been refreshingly smooth! In fact, I “connect” with my mom and cat any time I want so I realized it was unnecessary for me to pin it all on one date!

    Look forward to seeing your plans, Jacqueline!

    1. Your words inspire me, Amy ~ I guess I am aiming for the point, where I can be at peace, no longer defining myself by conventional standards. I learned, long ago that expectations based on ‘man made fluff’ were likely to end in disappointment and resentment, so I expect nothing, feel nothing, don’t get excited. Instead I worry that I’ll disappoint others with my choice of gifts, my response to what they give me…….arghhhh! I wanna break free from these self~imposed restrictions and be able to truly feel love and joy, without fear ~ for life, not just for Christmas!
      Thank you, so much dear friend, for your support and for sharing your wisdom so freely πŸ™‚

  5. I am so touched by what you’ve written. I have friends who remind me every year that the holidays aren’t “a child’s delight” for everyone. Your losses are so significant, and yet I hear your desire to breathe fresh memories into this coming season. I hope you will share. Blessings. Debra

    1. Thank you, Debra, for your validation ~ this has been my shameful secret, because we did not talk about my ‘real’ father, once my mother married my step~father. It was as if he and his family never existed. I am aiming for permanent changes, to break free from the conditioning of those early years, to allow myself to feel happiness. Please excuse my delay in replying to your wonderful comment, I do appreciate your loving support! πŸ™‚

  6. I’m sorry that such sad memories have tainted what is typically looked at as a ‘joyous’ season. I’ve never been a big fan of Christmas-time, but there are other times of year which have been ‘ruined’ (so to speak) due to close deaths or other traumas. The only thing I can tell you is that it doesn’t matter how many years pass, when those “times” come around, you will still be triggered to feel the pain. But the good news is that you don’t have to dwell in that sad place. The only way out, is “through”, dear friend. Feel it, appreciate it for what it is, and move through it to the next moments in life. Every minute you spend sad is one less that you could be spending being happy. I think your plans are a terrific way to combat the moroseness and I wish you the very best of luck with it! And just for good measure, I’m sending you some *Hugs* from across the pond. πŸ™‚ xox

    1. You got it in one, Corina ~ due to conditioning and not being allowed to talk about my feelings of grief, part of me has been dwelling in that sad place. It is time to move through and appreciate the full range of emotions, to live MY life to the max ~ every single day! I feel the warmth of your *Hugs*, they are making me smile. Thank you so much, my friend! πŸ™‚

  7. 11 days before Christmas! oh my word….
    I think you’re on your way to being healed because you’re “speaking” up and letting go of the pain.

    I love that FB quote. I’m going to copy it.
    (((hugs))) and much love from me

  8. I am basking in the warmth of your ((hugs))! I do feel as though I have broken through a taboo and can now breathe more freely and heal. I really did fear censure and negative comments for sharing this on my blog ~ but the love and support shown by you, and others, is overwhelming. Thank you, so much, Dear Rosie! πŸ™‚

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