23 Dec Queer and Alone: How I Am Dealing with Festive Anxiety
So, we are only a few days away from Christmas. During this time, many people will be closing up shop and preparing to go home to be with their loved ones. Indeed, the holidays are an exciting time for some but for others, this period can be terrifying and anxiety-provoking. I am sure some folks in the LGBT+ community will nod their heads in approval. For many LGBT+ people, going home only means crawling back into the closet because, for various reasons, their family members or relatives do not know about their sexuality or gender identity. For some, including myself, there is no going home because there is no (loving) home to return to.
When you have come out to your family and they refuse to accept you as you are, it’s not unusual to be downright ostracised or rejected or to find it difficult to be around the kind of people who stifle your existence. Because being in their company typically means forcing yourself into a situation where you are bombarded by unsolicited lectures on the immorality of your existence as a queer person. Such treatment only serves to dim whatever festive spirit a person may have. Such treatment is undeserved! I choose to protect myself from such situations.
I am learning to be comfortable with choosing to be alone rather than wanting the company of those who staunchly hold onto prejudiced beliefs concerning every aspect of who I am and demand that I eradicate, hide or shrink those aspects of myself for their own gratification. If I cannot be with people who are able to prioritise my happiness and well-being, then I am better off on my own. That’s why I am spending the festive season with my cash-strapped self. (Note that I have used with instead of by because, while I am going to be physically alone, I do not want to give room to feelings of loneliness.) I am going to be alone with my thoughts and my plans in the sanctuary of my room. My only objective is to spend some time getting to know and better understand myself.
Along with mindful meditation, I also plan to read and do a bit of writing, if I can manage to overcome my current writer’s block. I am currently reading, Audre Lorde – I am your sister. Collected and Unpublished Writings and I must say that the book edifies me at a time when my life is topsy-turvy and I could use something radically inspiring to hold onto. I bought myself an art book because I intend to revive my sketching skills. Art has been known to have therapeutic effects, so I aim to draw as much as I can on that effect. In addition to reading (and writing) and drawing, I will be watching movies and series. It has been a tough year full of more downs than ups and I could use some laughter. It only makes sense that I will also be continue what has become a tradition of pampering myself to some serious comedies which will hopefully perform the trick of distracting my mind over this not-so-festive season. I know it is a given that there will be moments when I feel lonely, but I don’t want to allow those feelings to linger.
I am not sure what my fellow queer folks have got planned for the December period. Whatever it is, I hope that we all place our mental and physical health at the fore. The anxiety that comes with the overwhelming feelings of loneliness or being forced into a closet around this time can lead many to numb those feelings using various substances (or even sex). While I will not dictate to adults what to do with their bodies, I sincerely hope that we are mindful of how we entertain ourselves over this period. Our health – sexual, mental, physical or spiritual – matters!