The tree is up. Stockings are hung. Most of the gifts are purchased and wrapping will begin in a day or two. My kids are safe and will be with me for Christmas. I have the next two weeks off. We will have (too much) food and we will have a lot of fun, I have no doubt. I am blessed, and I know it. I'm thankful.
But I am also deeply sad. Sometimes I find it difficult not to just break down and cry. I put on a carefully cheerful mask every day and I prop it up with smiles and laughter. Sometimes I even feel those happy feelings. Then darkness comes and I'm tired; I go to my room and settle in with my dogs, and the tears come.
I guess it would be wrong to start a post like this and not explain why I feel the way I do, but the truth is, I don't really understand it myself. Maybe that's why I'm writing this, to work it out and try to comprehend it. Terrible things have happened in the world - Syria, Aleppo, and South Sudan are a few examples. I think of the people who are injured, dying, or dead; the children suffocating in the rubble or starving in camps, and my heart aches. But I would be lying if I said this is the reason for my sadness. It contributes, but beyond this horror, something else lurks, something that is so petty and selfish that I am finding it very hard to write about.
My health is deteriorating. There's a tangent for you. I wake up in the middle of the night with aching hips and ribs, fingers that will barely move and joints that throb and burn. Turning over in bed is agony. I don't say that lightly. When I wake up, I'm just as tired as when I went to bed. It doesn't seem to matter what I do or don't eat, I am steadily gaining weight, and the more I gain, the worse I feel. My knees can't take much more of it. It has to be the medications I take, or maybe a combination of them, because I have tried multiple diets that have worked for me in the past, and nothing stops this awful progression of added pounds.
I can't do the things I want to do. My soul cries for the woods but my knees aren't reliable. I have so little energy that even driving to a hiking trail seems like more effort than I can handle. I want my house to be clean, but after about thirty minutes of work, I need to rest. Nothing ever gets completely finished.
Some people - not even a majority of them - voted for and elected Donald Trump for president of the United States this year. He seems to be a terrible person, the kind of man I would avoid at any cost. He mocks people, molests and assaults women, encourages violence and hateful behavior. The land of the free will be led by a Nazi in mufti. People - good people - voted for this narcissistic fascist and they really believe he will make this country great again. I grieve because ignorance and hate have eaten this nation.
But the lurker in the shadows is something else again; a selfish wish and desire that hurt me to contemplate. They say that when you name and evil, you give it power, but I know the truth. You must name the evil to take away its power. No monster looks half as frightening when you bring it into the light. I feel so petty for admitting this, but the truth is that I am lonely. The truth - the awful, shameful truth - is that I could shake off the sadness that rides me if I knew I could face the coming years with a partner in my life. The horrors of war, the fear of fascism, the worries about my health - all would be mitigated if I had someone by my side to face them with me.
There, I said it. The monster doesn't look so bad, now; I pulled it out into the light. And after all, what is so shameful about wanting someone to love?