Christmas Stress, by Susan Austin-Crumpton

As a young woman I was terrified to stay alone in the house overnight. As the mother of two young children, I would bravely pretend confidence and bravado. One night when alone in the house, I lay awake listening to the sound of rustling leaves under my window imagining the footsteps of the intruder outside.

Fear paralyzed my body and my mind.

Then I got angry! I had the thought “ I will never again lay frozen in fear like this! I am going out there! I will confront this monster or die trying.” I grabbed a baseball bat and stomped out the front door! There I saw a rabbit hopping into the distance.

It was all my imagined suffering. The only pain I was experiencing was the product of my history of fear and memory about past stories of danger.

My memories of Christmas in an alcoholic family are filled with family arguments and disappointments about way things were going to be. Today I find myself filling with dread and expectation of lost hopes and mass confusion. Feeling overwhelmed I find myself wishing it could just be over.

This year I think I will grab my baseball bat of present moment and confront the monsters of memory and my history. I want to yell, “Come on! Try to get to the present moment of my holiday celebration which hasn’t happened yet!”

Christmas has inherent within it the possibility of love and connection. When I am stuck in the past and in history I miss the joy of A new Light being born into the world and into me. There is no opportunity to ignite this light and to bring me the change and relief I so crave and desire.

This year I am confronting Christmas Stress and turning it into relief and presence.  

Susan Austin-Crumpton
Founder & Executive Director, The Estuary