The Husband is asleep in bed. Both Lady and Pip are snoozing beside me on the sofa, the telly is off and the living room still smells of white spirit from Husband’s painting shenanigans this evening. I don’t actually know if I’m tired or high off the fumes, but my eyes hurt either way.
Once upon a time, I would be struggling to sleep through the night before Christmas. As a child, Christmas was an exciting, yet nervous time for me. Presents were always the best part – especially the year I got my Gameboy, but then came the anxiety as my mom would meticulously run the day to a standard in her head that she could never quite fulfil, while Dad (sometimes joined by brothers K and T) would spend most of the day in front of the TV, oblivious to whatever was going on in the kitchen. If the day didn’t go the way Mom wanted… it would be a dark time. (Examples of this include the time my brothers thought her food was only good enough for a food fight so she hid in shame for the evening. Also, setting fire to my dad’s dressing gown and nearly torching half the garden in the process…)
Nevertheless, it was still her favourite time of year. Until Dad died. Then, my uncle died. Year by year, the day got sadder for her. Sometimes, she wasn’t sad. She would still push through the day, manic with the thought of how Christmas should be – and woe betide anyone who got in her way. I felt her wrath the most, I think. I was sad too, but… Mom was a complicated woman.
The last Christmas she spent here with us, she let me join The Ex’s family for the day. It had been a tough year, only a month before the big day I was in hospital for taking an overdose and I was trying to piece myself back together. Mom told me she would enjoy the day without having to worry about cooking or looking after other people. If I could go back… I’d have just spent it with her. (The Ex’s sister got engaged, while he asked me to help him assemble a Transformer… his brother-in-law made a fantastic dinner though, and his family spoilt me with presents.)
Since she’s been gone, Christmas hasn’t been the same for me. It was her thing, her time to shine. She drove me mad with her constant nagging, preening, her need for perfection that could never be met, along with the pressure she put on herself for everything to go as pictured in her head – but that’s who she was. An imperfect pain in the arse who only ever wanted things to be as happy as she could make them. I grew up thinking she was bipolar, but as I get older and I recognise traits that are borderline, I find myself wondering if she was the same.
The first year without her was spent around the Husband’s old house with our old group of friends, including Chris and oddly enough, The Ex. Yep, he spent Christmas with me and my then-new boyfriend. It was a lovely day without much mention of the C-word, we had food, watched Doom (terrible film until the end first-person bit) and then we mixed Cards Against Humanity with Drinks Roulette and I ended up on Chris’s bedroom floor with The Ex talking about what a terrible person I was. I cried a few times, about my parents, about The Ex, about The Husband. What is the point of Christmas if you’re a miserable cunt? I had no idea whilst paralytic on the floor that the Husband was planning to propose at New Year, and our old friends were nodding towards my drunken self and asking if he was sure he wanted to marry me.
…they’re our ‘old’ friends, understandably.
Last year was better. We had food, presents, crap Christmas telly on and Chris around for the evening. I can recall us drinking a gorgeous bottle of red wine, watching Goldeneye (best Bond film that doesn’t have Mads Mikkelsen in it) and having a laugh. I missed my parents, and it had been a rough year, but there I was with my two best friends. Alive and well.
This year has been one of huge steps, not including the obvious marriage. There are so many moments that have happened and way more to come, and my parents aren’t here. We have the extra sorrow of my Shandy pup and old lady Munch not being here too – and Pip is starting to show her age too. Each Christmas seems to come with a loss, a memory of those who aren’t here anymore to share the times with me. And because of my BPD, I feel that devastation so much more than someone without the disorder. It feels like physical pain to remember the ones who left me behind. And fuck, does it hurt.
I know this is possibly not the type of thing you want to read at Christmas, but I promised when I started writing this blog that I would always be open and honest about my life with BPD and who I am. Grief is a big part of who I have become as I’ve grown into an adult. It hurts, but it also allows me to appreciate who I have now, especially my husband, close family and the friends who have stuck by me and love me for who I am, personality disorder and all. Sometimes I wish I could go back and be a kid just for one day, just so I can feel that utter joy again – the kind that only a child at Christmas knows.
And I know one day I will have my own little ones, struggling to sleep themselves while I lie awake thinking of everything that could go wrong whilst cooking the dinner – even though Husband will probably cook, so I’ll move onto panicking about whether the kids like their presents. I hope there will be a time when I’m excited for making the house look jolly and festive, getting the kids to decorate the tree while we watch Die Hard (it’s a Christmas film, don’t tell me otherwise) and I can tell them about how Dad and I used to listen to the Rolling Stones as we decorated. And how my mom would leave ALL the food shopping until two days before, and one year it snowed so much that me and my cousin had to push TWO loaded trolleys through the snow back home – we ended up taking our coats and jumpers off because we worked up a swear.
One day, I’ll tell them how Christmas always makes me sad. I’ll tell them why. It will never stop hurting – but I know I’ll get through it.
And I’m dead fucking serious about Die Hard. It is a classic Christmas film, it’s set at Christmas, it has Alan Rickman in it and you haven’t lived until you’ve said ‘Ho ho ho’ in his German accent from this film. Also, Gremlins, go watch that too.