It’s been a while since I last sat down to write. Life and my ever tumultuous soul keep getting in the way and I’ve been struggling. This time last week I was absolutely sure that I was not going to decorate for Christmas. I just couldn’t bring myself to decorate the apartment just for the cat and myself. Initially, the motivation was there to go all out and prepare for house guests, but circumstances beyond my control unraveled and the rug has been unexpectedly pulled from under me. There is a saying in German “Hinfallen, aufstehen, Krone richten und weitergehen” (Fall down, stand up, straighten your crown, and keep going) that keeps me going, but is difficult to follow on some days, especially when I get stuck on the getting up part.

Lenningen2
©MTHerzog

Last year, my excuses for not decorating full scale were death and mourning. Everyone and their uncle in Manila would have crucified me for celebrating Christmas so soon after my parents death, and quite frankly, I just didn’t have it in me to even say Merry Christmas. This year, I had even more reasons for not celebrating, divorce, relocation, and depression to name a few. The long winter nights are scary for one who is used to 12 hours of sunshine 365 days of the year, and the bitter cold outside keeps me indoors stuck in a swamp of murky thoughts and emotions that bring out the worst in me, keep me awake at night, make me question the validity of my life, and above all, prevent me from moving forward with my writing. This emotional roller coaster that I seem to be trapped in is good, I tell myself, for I will become my own source for my next books, saving me the trouble of having to interview people extensively on the subject matter.

In addition to dying alone, crowds, and mirrors, one of my greatest fears in life is a blank page. Some people are terrified of dark alleys, skinheads, being hungry, homeless, or dirt poor. For me it is the horror that my life becomes one huge blank page – uninspired, empty, and insignificant to others. So when writer’s block, depression and sorrow hit me all at the same time, to say that I find myself struggling is an understatement.

If life is supposed to be like a book, I know for certain that I have closed many a chapter, even those I didn’t think I would ever close. But here I am, reviewing the table of contents and deleting some planned chapters and trying to find the motivation to move on. Fate has been unkind to me in the past two years, teaching me the meaning of loss, rejection, and unworthiness on so many levels. This has made me ultra sensitive on one hand, and over-courageous on the other and I am desperate to find that beloved balance again.

As I sat in the dark living room the other day debating with the cat whether to decorate or not, I came to the conclusion that I owed it to myself to bring in a little Christmas cheer into my darkness. So I hauled the decorations up, much to the horror of the cat who thought we were moving again when she saw the boxes, and got to work. It was sheer chaos for the next 24 hours, and we barely had room to move, but now that everything is up, I don’t regret my decision at all. I may be facing my first Christmas ever without a single family member, but at least it’s cozy.