The first year I got sober, I spent the holidays alone here in Los Angeles. My dad worried about me. “Are you sure?” he asked nervously. “You’re just going to be…alone? Won’t you be depressed?” He comes from a huge family. Our Christmases growing up were no less than fifty people. He didn’t understand that it was easier for me to comprehend spending a holiday alone than it was to be around my huge Irish Catholic family while also trying not to drink. My sister called me and asked more bluntly, “Bridge, dad is worried you’re gonna kill yourself—are you sure you’re okay spending Christmas alone?”
“Yes! I’m fine,” I insisted. We laughed about my dad. My sister and I share our disdain for the holiday season (it’s what inspired the first Phetasy greeting card 'Holidays...are a pain in the ass.') and the idea of spending Christmas and New Years alone with no obligations to go anywhere or do anything sounded truly…magical.
This year the entire world faces either seriously minimized holiday celebrations or quite possibly, facing the holidays alone for the first time. The truth is, I was lying to my dad; faking it until I made it. The idea of spending the holidays alone was terrifying on some level. We’ve all been brainwashed by a million Budweiser commercials and Hallmark Channel movies to think that Holidays = jovial time surrounded by family. Alone = Scrooge.
Since my first mission into the great two-week abyss that is Christmas and New Years, I’ve spent many more by myself. I have a bit of experience in this department and my advice to everyone: stare into the void and embrace the solitude. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke. More than ever 2020 has forced us to sit with ourselves, our significant others, and our kids with very few places to escape. It’s made some relationships and broken some. If you are here reading this, it has undoubtedly made you stronger and more resilient whether you realize it yet or not.
One of my fondest New Year’s Eve was the first year sober that I spent alone. I cooked myself a filet mignon, asparagus and potatoes. I made lists of goals for the new year and reflected on the previous one. When the clock struck midnight, I sat on my roof and listened to everyone around me celebrate and although I was completely isolated, I felt connected to the whole world. It was the best. More than anything, sitting on that roof with a little over 60 days sober, I felt the beginnings of something. Stillness. Peace. The ability to sit with myself and not want to crawl out of my skin or fill the time with travel, people, work, substances or social media.
Make no mistake, loneliness kills and I am not advocating that anyone isolate, especially if you’re depressed or struggling. In that case, by all means, reach out on social media and know you are loved. You matter. But I will say that learning how to go from loneliness to solitude has been one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever given myself and it’s been in those moments of quiet, I’ve come to know my strength.
Whether you’re alone or with family, use this time to process the year. We’ve all be through a lot. Watch movies. Read books. Go for hikes. Zoom into AA meetings or family “gatherings.” Do online restorative yoga classes. Chop wood. Journal. Hibernate. Log the fuck out of social media and recover.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,
Bridget and the Phetasy Team
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