You know what? No one ever told me that. Ever. And I realized it’s something that I needed to hear.
See, we’re kind of taught that it’s really not okay to be sick. That you need to apologize for being sick. That you need to hole up and hide away when you are sick. I think that subconscious belief ingrained in us does a lot of harm. We feel like we need to say sorry – sorry for being a hassle. Sorry for missing a get together. Sorry that I don’t have good news for you.
That last one is especially prevalent as the holidays approach. I’m asked “Are you feeling better?” all the time. And my knee jerk reaction is a “yup!” until they say “Oh. Because I heard you were in the ER.” and I’m like “Well…..yeah. I had a really bad pain episode….I’m sorry.” I want very badly to say “Hey everyone guess what?! I’m 100% better and normal just like you!” When they ask if I’m “better” they have such a desperate hope in their eyes that this is finally when I’ll reveal my miracle recovery, a story of triumph and overcoming this illness.
And I want to say sorry that I am not an inspirational YouTube video yet.
That’s awful, though. So I wanted to take a minute before the zero hour of the holidays to tell you all a few things I wish someone would tell me.
1. IT IS OKAY TO BE SICK. Seriously. Don’t apologize. It’s a neutral fact, it’s not good or bad. It just is, let it be.
2. Its okay to take a nap after the Christmas morning festivities. You probably ate a big special breakfast and woke up early – you spent time with your loved ones, you’re probably still in jammies, take a nap. It still counts as celebrating, especially if you fall asleep in front of a roaring fire and a Rankin/Bass TV special.
If it’s good enough for Santa, it’s good enough for you.
3. Its okay to take medicine at the table. If you don’t act guilty about it, probably no one will notice. And if they do, you can say “I’m fine, it’s just time for my lunchtime/dinnertime/breakfast-time pills!”
4. Its okay to lay down while you’re hanging out with friends and family. It just shows you’re comfortable. If in doubt, take a cue from the family toddlers – they’re so comfortable they’ll poop right in front of you. Don’t go that far, but take the lesson.
See? All smiles. So calm.
5. Its okay to not act sick! If you’re having a good day, have a good day! Sometimes I feel like I ought to reign it in or else people will stop believing I’m sick. Life’s way to short and Christmas is way too wonderful – if you’re feeling up to it, let it all out.
6. Its okay to not wear make up. I don’t. Who cares? It’s bad for you anyway.
7. Its okay to not stay up all night. When family visits you’ll probably get to talking and not want to go to bed, but it’s good for you and them to stick to a normal-as-possible sleep schedule. If they’ve been traveling, they’ll be asleep as soon as their head hits a pillow no matter what time it is.
8. Its okay to listen politely to family’s medical advice. Feel free to share your own thoughts but don’t fight or turn it in to a lecture. When your obnoxious great aunt tells you you’d be cured if you gave up sugar or gluten or tried acupuncture, smile and say “Thanks. I’m really glad my family looks out for me like this.” or “Thank you for thinking of me! Your support means a lot.” Christmas Day is not the day to go Health-Activist-Expert-Nazi on everyone. See the best in people’s good intentions. Forgive and love freely. There will be other days to “march in to battle.” Lay down your weapons on Christmas.
9. Its okay to feel sad, even when it’s Christmas. Don’t feel like you’re missing something or messed up when the world seems so happy and you feel sad – it’ll only make you more sad! Let yourself feel sad when you need to. Watch those sad Christmas commercials, sit by the fire and think, say a tearful prayer. Sadness is, like illness, neither good or bad – it simply is. Let it be. Get it all out – it’ll be much easier to move on to happier things.
10. Its okay if you don’t have much money. I switched from full time to freelancing and, while we were prepared for the financial changes, we didn’t factor in all the Christmasing that would happen. Decorations, gifts, special food – we spent basically all we had without even realizing it! Luckily paychecks have since rolled in. But we had been planning on doing the “angel tree” thing and getting gifts for a needy kid. And I would really have loved to get presents for more people than we did – the kids I babysit, our friends, distant relatives. It just didn’t happen this year. It’s hard to want to give and help people and to not be able to. Just remember that money comes and goes – maybe this year you were the needy or poor, but maybe next year you’ll be the one giving to the needy or poor. Roll with the tide, there is a time and season for everything.
11. Its okay to shop online. As charming as it can be to walk through a mall with christmas decorations everywhere, it may not be worth braving the crowds. People can be cold and mean when they’re in the hustle and bustle like that. Only go out shopping when you’re relaxed and in no hurry, and again, be ready to forgive and love freely – you’ll be doing a lot of it.
12. Its okay to get excited! A lot of people pooh pooh how big Christmas is getting. They hate the songs on the radio and the early decorations and peppermint everything. Fine. It’s not for everyone, but if you love it, LOVE IT. Listen to the Christmas radio stations, sing along to those overplayed classics, watch Christmas movies, eat your peppermint everything. Don’t buy in to thinking that you’re giving in to commercialism or forgetting the REAL reason for the season. Christmas is like Disney World – it exists as a giant permission slip to be happy and enjoy things. Like illness, happiness is sometimes thought of as something to be hidden away inside. And it’s probably good that you know how to control yourself when you’re excited day to day. But you need to woohoo and cry tears of joy every once in a while! It’s healthy.
I think I’ll stop at 12 – it’s a Christmasy number. What are some things you wish someone would tell you? Share them in the comments – because I bet you’re not the only one who needs to hear it.