The Domino Effect


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It only takes one person, one conversation, even one comment to start a movement…

Someone comes up and starts talking with you about the holidays. You put on a smile. You nod and laugh as they share their silly stories about Uncle Billy dropping the casserole, little Susie getting into her presents early, and Grandma for falling asleep at dinner. You laugh. You feign interest. You want to kick them.

No? Just me?

I have written about the holidays in the past but as they are now approaching, I find it an important time to remind others to be sensitive about the holidays.

I know, I know, another Millenial requesting that people be sensitive. Can’t we just suck it up?

That’s what I have been doing. I have been sucking it up for decades. I have listened to your stories about decorating ornaments, I have shared family traditions, I have hummed along to the work Christmas Carol, and attended the party with your terrible eggnog. I don’t want to do that anymore.

My holidays aren’t that peaceful. They can be really scary. Holding my breath coming down the stairs to see if my mom is there, if she’s sober, and if anything is broken isn’t something I look forward to each year. Hoping that when my husband’s family arrives, everyone is functioning is STRESSFUL. I don’t want to pick up my phone when I am with the in-laws in case it is my sister crying because my mom had to “go to bed” at 1:00pm.

Since being with my husband, I do enjoy the holidays a lot more. He really has brought back my holiday spirit that I thought had died years ago. But part of that is because I can be honest with him about my anxiety and my fear. I don’t want to be honest with my coworkers, my friends, or  even my family because one by one, I bring them down like dominoes.

I share that my mom is an alcoholic when Betty from accounting asks what I am most looking forward to and I say that I am just hoping everyone makes it through. Now Betty is depressed and uncomfortable. Now I feel bad for making her uncomfortable. Slowly one by one, I take down people with my negativity about the holidays.

So I don’t do that. I bite my tongue and pretend everything is fine. It’s unfair though. It’s hard to lie. It’s hard to pretend for such a long time. And by me continuing to lie, I am perpetuating another domino effect. The effect of keeping addiction a secret. If I am not willing to talk about it, why would someone else be willing to share later? We are fueling our enemy’s battle, our enemy being addiction, by continuing to stay quiet.

What do I do? Do I share? Do I lie? Do I try to avoid it all together? It seems like such a minor thing but when the holidays come up…Let’s be honest, it gets earlier and earlier this year. My office was talking about Christmas parties in the middle of October. OCTOBER!

Christmas conversations can last up to two months. Because there is the pre-Christmas excitement and then the aftermath conversations. People want to share what happened, what they received, and what they experienced. I don’t mind listening but it is hard for me to contribute. Even when my mom is doing well, I can never stay calm the entire time. I am waiting for the other shoe to drop and chaos to take charge.

So here we are, Thanksgiving upon us, and I am staying away from my family. I am going on a trip with my husband’s family and I am going to turn my phone off. I am turning off my parent’s alcoholism for a few days. I wish it worked the same way with our brains.

What are your thoughts? Which domino effect is less destructive? The one where we share and maybe we spread awareness but we also spread “Debbie Downer Syndrome”? Or is it worse to keep it a secret and continue to show others that we need to be quiet about this disease? I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts!

Thanks for reading! I’d love for you to share this through email or social media! You can follow me on Instagram at @grumpy.sunshineblog or find me on my Facebook page Grumpy Sunshine.

-Your fellow scrooge, Grumpy Sunshine