New Year, Mixed Feelings ll By Elan BenAmi LPC, ACS

I love this time of year. I like to see space brightened, be it with a single burning candle, a string of lights, or with decorations of any kind. I like picturing people sitting by the fire. An image I well know has been marketed to me since I was a child, but hey I can’t say it didn’t work. It’s just nice to know people are sharing food, gifts, songs, stories- whatever warms hearts and brings joy.

As December moves along, I find myself imagining the New Year. I start anticipating the changes ahead. I wonder about how things will evolve for myself and for those I know and care about. What direction will the conversation head? What shape will the world take? How will we each arrive into whatever is to be?  

I also of course reflect on the year that has now gone by. I think of the moments that stand out. The decisions that were asked of us as individuals, and as a group. What accomplishments can we stand behind? What lessons did we learn as we grew into who it seems we were always becoming… 

I appreciate the reminder to rest and to acknowledge how much each year asks of us.

I know I personally need to slow down and bask in a comfy blanket and a warm cup of tea. What better time to go inward and to contemplate than in that liminal space where one year seems to have ended but the other has not yet begun…   

Slowing down also has the byproduct of making it clear that aspects of this time of year are always hard for me. The strangeness of the phrase “See you next year!” sits with me after I say it. Where did that time go? How quickly things pass when they are in our memory… For me this brings up angst. I start to think about how we only get so many trips around the sun before our time is up. I worry I’m missing the moment, and then, I end up missing the moment because of how worried I was that I would. 

I am also a bit more teary in the winter. For me, my malaise is quite cyclical. Typically I’m okay during the day, it’s at the bookends of winter nights that I struggle. Sleep comes with more tosses and turns, and mornings seem drudgier. I can be quite the grump. In that state, self-care is more difficult to commit to, and comfort food, lets just be honest, sounds way better.

I am much kinder to myself than I used to be. Really I owe much of that change to those who have held space for me. Thank god for love and friendship and therapy! And yet it’s still hard to share pain. When I do, my shame pops right up. Who are you to complain? Why don’t you do something about it then? Do you know how much worse other people have it? What’s wrong with you? Why would you burden other people with this? And on and on that voice can go.  

To name the shame here helps me to interrupt it. I want to give myself permission to take the holiday season in stride. To let all of my emotions be there, without judging them, or myself for having them. It’s okay to have my mixed feelings. Sometimes my joy will be front and center and I’ll be singing (way out of key) and laughing about something silly. At other times my anxiety might make a go for the ol’ rabbit hole. Or perhaps I’ll find myself hanging out with some sadness for the afternoon.

Whatever emotion is there I am grateful to know that there are those to share it with. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and for staying connected as we begin again. Happy (and other feelings too) New Year. 

About Elan

I provide therapy for individuals and couples. My approach as a counselor has elements of existentialism, humanism, and transpersonal psychology – though more than anything, I’m committed to helping people discover their authenticity and develop as human beings, in whatever way feels most organic.; 720-722-0565