I used to think I LOVED Christmas. Christmas jumpers! Decorations! Presents! Mince Pies! Christmas Music!
Then, I realised: I didn’t like Christmas at all.
When I stopped for a moment I realised that I loathe it. It is full of triggers. Inside I feel wretched. I force joviality and good will. I just want to do it right. I’m always like that, watching others and trying to figure out how to do it right. The great thing about forcing myself to lurrrrrve Christmas is that it keeps me very busy (ie not thinking) and then it also provides lots of opportunities (excuses) for boozing (emotional escape and distraction). How fun! It wasn’t though. The emptiness would always be there and always magnified the day after, chuck in some regret, guilt, shame. Ugh. Not good festive feels. Not this year. Nope.
This year I’ve used some of my acquired DBT (Dialectical Behaviour Therapy) skills. I’ve acknowledged that yes, actually, Christmas makes me feel very sad and alone and that’s ok. Sigh. Then my natural urge to rebel and push against expectations piped up. Who says Christmas has to be the same songs? The same food? Ridiculous! When I thought about it I wondered if a lot of us are spending Christmas trying to recreate good feelings from the past? I don’t like that. Instead, I want to make good feelings in the now, right here. Very – ahem – mindful of me (the DBT therapists would be pleased!)
This time last year I hadn’t even started C25K. I didn’t have any running goals. Ha ha! You got to be kidding. Running?! Snort! Everything seemed impossible. Each day was a microclimate of storms to be navigated but there was medication and DBT and an idea – let’s try C25K. Right, well obviously that went well! Several 10Ks, a half-marathon (the Great North Run 2017), a 10 miler and 14 parkruns in 3 different places? Yup, running. Who’d have thunk it?
Parkrun has been hugely helpful to me. I’ve learned how to manage anxiety and the panic that comes with running in a crowd. I’m not social so I’ve not made friends but being around a group of people helps me connect to the rest of the world outside my head. That’s about as social as I get – being next to others? Yeah…that’s close enough for me! Although in saying that, my neighbour has joined me at some parkruns and my son too. Oh and then my husband decided he’d like to do some too. And, come to think of it, I’ve volunteered a few times as well.
2017 has been the year I found parkrun and it’s changed the ‘festive’ season for me. As a family we’ve been up and out.Wrapping up warm and bringing our Labrador pup. Saturday 23rd I ran, Sunday 24th my son ran, Christmas Day my husband ran. Three days in a row, up and out with purpose and fun. Yesterday we had a plan to travel to a different parkrun so that husband and I could run together whilst the grandparents watched the kids. Sadly, the weather stopped that but, not to be beaten, we turned the car around and headed to our local parkrun. I ran alone (husband on kid and dog duty) tippy toeing along icy sections. Today the boy was at junior and I was volunteering with Pops (the dog). Tomorrow: NEW YEARS DAY! And it’s my turn again. So much of our holiday has been shaped by parkrun and it’s been a good thing. It’s not been trying to recreate old Christmasses. No. Yuck! It’s just been doing something that’s fun now because we want to.
There are a zillion (approximately) reasons that parkrun is good for me and good for my family but this post is too long already. If you haven’t parkrun why not?
Am I staying up to ring in the new year? Oh god no! No way! I’m not bothered. I’m going to bed (building a bed fort – just saying) and getting up and parkrunning tomorrow – January the 1st. So a massive thank you to all involved for 2017 and for making this, for me, the most parkrunderful time of the year.*
* I have had a glass of cava so… I’m using that as my excuse for gushing. CHEEEEEEEESE! *blush*