Being present is something that I struggle with. Very rarely am I right there in the moment that is happening right at that exact second. To some extent I’ve always been that way, my mind taking off on flights of fancy, on the back of daydreams, when I should have been listening to my maths teacher talk about…hmmmm? Ooh, rainbow snowflakes!
That flighty mind of mine is pretty amazing when I can sit anywhere in the world and drift away on lovely thoughts of lovely things. But, in line with the sentence that every therapist I have ever seen likes to throw in my face like a snowball of icy lies and stereotypes “Ooh, you’re creative. It’s always the creative ones. I bet you’ve got a great imagination…”
As much as I hate to fit so neatly into a box, I have. I can watch people from my bedroom window, wandering up and down the street, and imagine whole lives and families and hopes and fears for them. I can imagine skipping through sunlit meadows with kittens mewing at my heels. I can imagine being slowly, deliciously fucked by someone I really fancy. I can imagine living in my dream house down to the tiniest detail (vintage switch plates and coving laced with the odd spiders web please). I can imagine it all so well I can taste it and smell it and feel it.
Thing is…I can also quite vividly imagine twenty car pile ups involving everyone I’ve ever loved and massive natural disasters and leaping from a high window and sailing through the air before hitting the ground with a thud. I can imagine being alone and helpless and I can imagine letting people down and fucking people up and all of the terrible things that could ever happen, both in and outside of the realms of reality.
Swings and roundabouts innit.
Anyway, being present is pretty important sometimes. As a blanket rule, it’s better to never, ever drift off with the bad things. Even down the frozen food aisle in Tesco at 11am.
I’m not good at stopping my bad thoughts from running away with themselves, from creeping in through even the tiniest mental cranny and enveloping my brain with sticky darkness. They like to make me catastrophise and to worry until I’m nothing but a puddle of fear in the corner of the room.
And this is why Christmas is a total son of a bitch. ‘It’s just a day’ can fuck right off because no, no it isn’t. It’s a day that is shoved down our throats as soon as the clock chimes in November. It’s a day that requires at least seven years of solid planning to achieve anything close to fairy lit perfection.
It’s a day where, more than ever, I need to be present.
And that in itself is one huge boulder of pressure to carry on my brittle little shoulders.
The presents are done. They were done ages ago. They’re mostly wrapped. Father Christmas will leave them piled invitingly under the tree, they will be turned into mountains of wrapping paper and exclamations of “how does this work?” “Can I eat this now?” “Put the batteries in Mummy”. So that’s all fine. We’re good. Presents are done. Food will be done because it sort of always is. We’ve got to eat, one of life’s basics really innit.
All of that is admittedly stressful but it’s practical and I can make lists and cross items off lists and know exactly where I am with everything. Sorted.
But the thing that I should find the easiest of all; getting out of bed and being dragged downstairs to be bombarded with excitement and packaging shrapnel and squeals of delight…all of that. That’s what’s hard.
Firstly, there’s the all consuming, soul crushing guilt. Because it should be easy. I should be relaxed and happy and excited and full of festive whatever. And then there’s the fear that I won’t be and the sadness at that. The worrying about exactly how I will feel when I open my eyes, up or down or somewhere in the no mans land of The Middle
If I’m a bit hypo, and believe me, I’m doing all I can to send myself that way (which is desperately unhealthy so don’t try it at home, kids) then I’ll be fine because when I’m like that everything is FINE FINE FINE YAY!
If I’m not then…well, then it’s going to be shit. It is. I’m not projecting or being melancholy or dooming myself to the worst day of my existence, I’m just being realistic. Existing as an empty husk of a human, a barely flickering grey silhouette of despair really, really fucking sucks when you can see everyone around you living in this dazzling technicolor word of feelings and happiness and joy.
That’s what’s horrible. The knowledge that it genuinely could be like that for me. That from the second I’m awake on Christmas morning, if I feel shit, I will have to put on my It’s All Okay face and fake my way through the day, feeling dead and guilty and sad and knowing that, come tomorrow, I won’t remember a single second.
So yeah, the presents don’t really matter and the food and the endless money and organisation that needs pouring into Just One Day.
It’s all about the presence (badum tish).