I’m Dani Ward,

and I do lots of things.

Disjointed thoughts on Christmas.

Starting tomorrow, I will have been sick for a full month. A mix of bronchitis and asthma. Having a lack of both money and insurance has made this scarier than it otherwise would have been. I read old journal entries about going to the doctor and wonder at that kind of life, imagine what it would be like to get a prescription and be healthy and not spend weeks on end gasping for breath, hoping against hope that if I just hold out a little longer I’ll get better and worrying to death that I’ll end up in the ER and utterly unable to afford it.

Then I think over the past few months. October was spent taking care of my partner, who sprained his ankle so badly we and the ER doctor thought it was broken. November was spent traveling to say goodbye to my mamaw, then burying her. And December has been spent trying to breathe, remembering that Mamaw died from complications of pneumonia, then fighting tears at how scared I am not breathing and thinking about how scared she must have been.

Next week will end 2014 and begin 2015, and that makes me realize how hard things have been, where I was last year this time, how I’ve spent most of the past year suicidal and depressed and feeling so alone.

It’s been a year since we made the conscious decision to cut off contact with abusive family members. I’m unsure they’ve gotten the memo, as they continue to send extravagant gifts and passive-aggressive greeting cards. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the very personal and difficult decision of disconnecting from abusive people who have been nothing but toxic to your family, and how our society just doesn’t support such a thing. Which makes holidays like Christmas so much harder, because it’s all about FAAAMILYYY don’t you know, and just how do you comfort someone whose family has been the source of so much trauma? How do you explain to people who think that the abuse wasn’t that bad and FAAAMILY is more important than preserving your own mental health?

I’m so thankful for my friends and family this year. As far as I know, I’m the only active vocal non-Christian in my family, which can make things kind of lonely. But I appreciate the conversations I’ve been able to have with most of my close family over the past year, and how we constantly work to love and respect one another no matter what. And I’m thankful for my friends who are so supportive and wonderful. When I was at my lowest, they all came together and planned a surprise birthday party for me to show me their love and appreciation. This weekend, the first annual Friendmas will take place at Paige’s house, and I’m so excited for it. I can’t even explain the emotion that overwhelms me at the prospect of being surrounded by these wonderful people of various personalities and beliefs and how we all just…love each other.

My online friends mean the world to me, as well. I feel like I’ve found my people among you all. I’m able to be open in ways online that I struggle with in person, so in many ways you get to see a more raw and real side of me than most see in Real Life, and you all just…I can’t state how much I love having you in my life and being part of your lives.

There’s so much struggle. So much scary. So much sad and unstable. But I’m grateful for the good. Thank you all. Love to you all. May you have a restful, peaceful holiday season entering this upcoming new year. May our love of each other and of justice sustain us.

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