I’m going to give you some advice. I know you didn’t ask for it.

If you are hurting, tell someone.

You’re the one sitting at the holiday gathering putting on the smile that fools them all, laughing at the right moments and being witty to keep them sure, “This one’s got it together.”

While inside your stomach is gnarled in knots, imagining the revilement that would come your way if they only knew what a broken human you are. Then going home after the party and binging on your drug of choice. Maybe it’s food or it’s porn or it’s alcohol or it’s weed. Maybe it’s a street drug. Preparing for another night of nightmares or worse.

But you don’t tell anyone. Maybe a fellow addict knows and holds your secrets. But most don’t.

I’m telling you right now, tell them.

Most people are hurting during this time of year. It’s part of the cycle. It’s dark. We have stressful family or we have no family or we put undue pressure on ourselves in connection to some ideal family we’ve never met but we must live up to. We have longing that seems like it might break us, tearing into the empty places and screeching, there must be more than this.

Admit that, to someone.

Now I can hear you. No effing way you say back. No one wants to hear about my problems, yet again. What a downer that would be. Everyone is so cheery. Everyone is having a good time. I’m the only one. I’M THE ONLY ONE.

I’m tell you right now, you’re wrong.

We have longing that seems like it might break us, tearing into the empty places and screeching, there must be more than this.

Anyone with a listening ear like me is hearing the stories. Behind closed doors, the truth comes out. I’m a wreck. I’m barely holding it together. I can’t stand being around others. I feel so alone. I hurt so much.

So let’s look at this differently.

Perhaps the facade you are wearing is the very one every other smiling face at the party has also donned for the occasion. All these colorful masks gazing at all these other colorful masks. Everyone pushing hard to fight the nothing that is sucking them from the inside. And the only thing that would settle the soul suck is saying aloud the thing that would shatter the mask, that would reconcile your outside with your inside, that would bring you into visibility: “I’m hurting”.

It would go something like this.

“You know, with all the merry making around me it’s tough to admit that I’ve been feeling down. But the truth is, I’ve been struggling lately and I’ve been hiding it. It’s been a hard time of year with trying to handle all the expenses of the season and just put on a happy face. Inside it’s another story. I wonder if anyone else can relate”.

All these colorful masks gazing at all these other colorful masks.

This is what happens when someone begins to align with truth in a culture of social deception. The room begins to spin. A fog that is so common no one can see it anymore suddenly begins to lift. The masks audibly begin to dismantle. Crrrrrraaaack. Colorful mache faces clatter to the floor. Everyone takes a deep breath. And truth follows truth.

“Me too,” they will say, tears glistening, a spontaneous watery release after the strain of holding back for so long. “Me too, I’m also having a rough time. I thought I was the (here it comes) only one”.

When one person calls out truth, everyone heals. It’s called giving permission. We need it. Our implicit social contract at this time of year is to fake it. Another contract needs to be made. A contract of authenticity. A contract of social courage. A contract of loyalty to self above loyalty to facade. I believe we are the ones who can forge a new deal.

When you share what is true, others can be their full selves. Trust is built. Closeness like hot glue flows forth to bind you closer to these humans from whom you may draw comfort. We can begin to heal, to use our friendships to generate wellness rather than to hide from or behind.

My Christmas Eve advice to you dear one who happens upon this post is, tell them. Instead of being a season you must hold your breath through, consider the possibility that the holidays may be a time when the riches of connection can gift you. And that all you need to do to receive is to open your voice and let the truth follow.

When you share what is true, others can be their full selves. Trust is built. Closeness like hot glue flows forth to bind you closer to these humans from whom you may draw comfort.

This is not an easy step. It will quake you deeply down to your bones. Don’t think I think my advice is easy. It’s not. It’s just necessary so that we don’t lose you amidst all the wrapping paper and tinsel. I’m holding my hand out now in support. If this is too woo woo for you, just stop reading here. But if not, imagine a friendly soul, warming your palm, sitting next to you as you take that breath and tell them what’s true.

You’re not the only one.