I think I posted about this earlier this year, but tbh it’s an evergreen topic. I found this draft buried in a folder from this time last winter & I’m cleaning up my WordPress today, so I’m finishing this and posting it.
It’s even timely, since it refers to the day after Christmas.
This is the time of year structured social interaction becomes painfully difficult, stressful & exhausting. (Yes, this does include daily interaction with Spouseman, but he married me, so we do our best to rub along.)
Is it irony? The time of year everyone wants to get together the most, I NEED to crawl into a figurative cave? It’s something, that’s for sure. One thing it isn’t is Seasonal Affective Disorder. (I investigated that, we all thought that’s what it was for years, but turns out it isn’t.) It doesn’t get better as days get longer. It gets better in February, period.
If I get a seasonal downtime, then my energy level, my creativity, my stability in general–really the whole rest of the year–goes well. If hibernation time gets interrupted by demands from The Outside World, if I’m forced to deal with things I can’t handle, then the whole year suffers.
I’ve lost friends over this issue. (Pro tip: do not drop a “jokey” guilt trip on me by email the day after Christmas. I will cut you out of my life like snipping a price tag. Same for rants about my lack of responsiveness at New Year’s.)
Working retail 4th quarter always meant missing holiday parties and ending up w/a post-Xmas staycation. I felt bad about missing out but was relieved to avoid the social scene at the same time. Post-Borders, I slowly recognized that I had been leaning hard on that built-in barrier to fulfill an underlying need for withdrawal I hadn’t realized was there.
Since then I’ve had to learn to make my own excuses, schedule time off and pretty much avoid Big Planned Activities, Basic Life Decisions, and anything else that requires Normal Conversing or Responding to Inquiries between mid-December and the end of January.
It isn’t easy. The social pressure is pretty HUGE. But it’s better for everyone this way, it really is. I cannot human in midwinter. I am a bear. Of course some years hibernation isn’t possible. Whenever that’s happened, I’ve coped. I get through.
Coping isn’t thriving.
There’s a high emotional cost to pushing beyond safe mental limits, and those effects are long-lasting, rolling down through the months until my next big seasonal reset. (That happens around fall equinox, when I become a squirrel. I’ve blogged about that too, I’m pretty sure.)
ANYway. It’s midwinter now, and I am enjoying my downtime, writing this, writing that, thinking and daydreaming and dodging the Real World as much as possible.
And yeah, feeling super grateful to be at a place in my life where that’s possible.
That’s all for today. Until later.