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Well this is the stuff of nightmares. I have Christmas lights, we’re going to get our tree, there are stockings hung by the fire with care. And my heart is heavy with anger and sadness. It is overwhelming my favorite type of cheer. I can’t seem to get out from under it. It’s a constant uphill battle and I’m losing. I’m losing badly, not graciously or in some sort of movie star classy way, I am flat-out getting my ass handed to me by anger.
I have logic. My brain knows. My brain says, “you become entrenched in what you scheme about”. And I can’t stop it. I just, I want to knock people off their illusioned pedestals.

And you thought this was about Christmas cheer. Christmas is my number one favorite holiday, and I am struggling through it. This is our first “real” Christmas together, and I already have so much anxiety over how it’s going to get jacked up. Will we have Peanut for Christmas? Will we have enough time to finish making all of her presents for my family and his? Will I be able to get all of the cookies made? Will we have time to shop for our family Christmas party? Yes, the one we are having a week early just to ensure some of my holiday tradition remains steadily intact.  Will we this? Will we that? Will we? Will we? Will we?

Will I?

I recently got to experience my first official “non-existent” moment in this whole step parenting game. Due to circumstances beyond my control I had to leave an event for Peanut early, which resulted in her getting her picture taken with all sides of the families, all the while she was asking where I was. When she got home and I got home we took pictures together to make up for it. It was then that I was informed of the mommy/daddy photo-op that had taken place in my absence. Poof. As though I never existed. Feel free to judge me on this one. I make no excuses for the hurt I felt and that horrible left-out feeling I got from it. I don’t even deny the jealousy that tore through my heart as I realized while I was taking care of everyone else, everyone but Peanut pretended I didn’t exist. I don’t know how to explain the combination of frustration, rage, sadness, and isolation that moment gave me. I keep having these moments, in escalating order, that make me want to throw my hands in the air and call “Uncle”.

I read a well written paper on the dangers of social media which referenced the term FOMO, “feelings of missing out”. The idea is that social media, among other things, has become such an addiction of “staying informed” and “included” that people are having strong reactions to missing out. This was my FOMO moment. As seems to be typical for us, here I was once again running all over God’s creation trying to make sure everything was done, everyone’s needs were met, and I was missing out on something important. I was missing the opportunity to be recognized as an involved human. As a thing that actually exists in this messed up family dynamic we are struggling to develop. And I missed it. Poof. I didn’t exist to anyone in that moment.

Did I need to?

I existed to Peanut. Granted, I disappointed her by not being there in that moment. But I existed to her. I realize that I need to dig deep and be a stronger person, and that much of this anxiety and sadness comes from a lack of confidence in who I am and my place in my world, our world. I should not need to be recognized by everyone. I should not need to be accepted by those who I do not seek a bond with. But I do. And I don’t know another way to be right now. And that’s the simple truth. I’m a different kind of Grinch. My heart isn’t two sizes too small, it’s much too big and trying to love everyone as much as it can. As a result, my heart is over worked and poorly rested and daily conking out on me. How do we fit self-love into all the other loving we need to do? Can I do this in my sleep?