Every December my family spends an evening eating out together and then each person chooses a new Christmas ornament for our tree. It's something we have done for years. Each ornament is marked with the person's name and the year. We have also marked every other ornament on the tree with the person who gave it to us and the year it was received.
Our Christmas tree is full of people and memories. Pulling them out each year and reliving those times and the feeling brought on by each ornament ... well, it's interesting. Sometimes painful as we look at those that remind us of friends we have lost to death over the years. Yet, they are all very, very telling.
You see, last year this is the ornament I picked for myself:
You've read my life. You know our realities. Some of you might even feel yourself experiencing some anger looking at that silly thing. You're thinking, "Yeah, her life can't suck as bad as mine, that's for sure! I could NEVER hang such a thing. I could stomp on it, yes. Hang it? No way."
Let me explain.
Last year I made peace. I found peace. With reality. I have been doing this all along, but it was another major touchstone in my life.
I found peace in the truth that all of my children have extreme potential, but each potential may very well be drastically different. And that's okay.
I found peace in the truth that I will never experience some milestones with some of my kids, and "typical" family experiences have absolutely been tainted by trauma. And that's okay.
I found peace in the truth that my children are already WAY beyond where they would have been if they had continued to live within the trauma they have experienced. And that's okay.
I found peace in the truth that I may never, ever, ever, never like being therapeutic. Because it's challenging. It's hard. And that's okay.
I found peace in the truth that I am human. I help other parents. I am a great cheerleader. All the while I mess up regularly and do the opposite of what I know is best and really disappoint myself. And that's okay.
I found peace in the truth that I have to stand in the balance for my kids and put up boundaries and not always participate in "normal" things. I have to have thick skin when people judge us because they just simply don't see "why??" we are protecting our kids in some ways. And that's okay.
I found peace in the truth that my kids may or may not continue to create their own healthy boundaries when they become adults. They may not choose to set themselves up for success. They may fall hard. Sometimes. Rarely. Or a lot. And that's okay.
I found peace in the truth that this is my life, and I do not have to let trauma own it for me or any of us. We still get to be a family and experience joy and fun and awesome. Even when it takes extra effort. And that's okay.
May you find peace this holiday season. True peace.