Some years aren't so bad. Some are great, even. But this year, I'm feeling the loss of my family.
Yeah, I know, you can't lose what you didn't really have, and we were never one big happy family, even if we liked to think we were, but in my head we were, and I miss that feeling. And at the very least, there was never a lack of people. Family = more people to go Christmas shopping for, to share traditions with, to have big gatherings with. I like all of that stuff. I like the planning and the feelings of anticipation and the gathering. And now I don't have people to do it with.
Holidays can bum me out because my friends are all hanging out with their families. Their big, smiling, families. They have plane flights and long car rides to other states or grandmas coming to stay in their guest rooms. They have cousins baking cookies together and photos with four generations on one couch. I know that many of those smiley happy tableaux are masks for the dysfunction underneath, I know. But some of those families really are functional and loving and happy. They really are kind to each other and happy, truly happy, to be together. And I wish I had that. I hate being an orphan at Christmas.
This month, it has been 2 years since I last saw my oldest brother. I will probably see him at a mutual friend's house tomorrow, and that is freaking me out a little bit. I am feeling so, so sad for my kids that they barely know his children, and almost never see them. My kids know their other cousins, my second brother's kids, so little that they wouldn't even know their names if you were to ask them. My kids don't really have a grip on who their aunts and uncles are. I don't think it bothers them, this is their normal, but it bothers me. I'm feeling sad and angry about my brothers being more loyal to my mother than they are to me. It didn't have to be this way. We could have been closer, might enjoy each other more. But when I stood up to my mother and ultimately decided that being near her was unhealthy, I lost my brothers. Collateral damage.
I still have my husband and our awesome kids and the traditions that we have forged together. But it just feels so impoverished to me, so anemic. So isolated.
We also have my in-laws, who live in our city now. In general we have a good relationship, although they've been annoying me a bit lately. Nothing huge. Just imperfect human stuff. I don't particularly want to share Christmas with them...so yeah, I'm whining about not having family, then whining about not wanting to hang with the family I have.
So, anyway, to sum up: I'm feeling depressed and lonely. So I'm blogging after another long break, and googling looking for things to perk me up or people sharing their own similar stories, because solidarity helps so, so much. And now, a few links to holiday-estrangement-type stuff - mine and other people's.
- So good to remind myself that two years ago, I was feeling down and lonely and then had a totally lovely Christmas day. (Also worth noting that the ornament mentioned in the down & lonely link is on the side of my tree this year, not the back. Progress!)
- Also so good to remind myself that the holidays of yore were not all that great. Oh, ghosts of Christmas past, thank you.
- From E-stranged: "Family estrangement does not shrink your heart. If anything, it touches it with deeper awareness about the essential, universal, human need for connection and belonging." Dig into the holidays/events archive.
- From Chicago Now: "10 Reasons I'm Grateful to Be Estranged During the Holidays". Accentuate the positive! I should make my own top 10.
- The Invisible Scar's list of 10 Tips for an Emotionally Healthy Holiday is a good one. I love this one: "purposefully seek to see things during this season that are uplifting and good". Amen.
Ok, I really need to get some sleep so that I can tap into more zen and less loneliness tomorrow. I hope that life is treating my fellow estranged ACONs well. Happy holidays, y'all.