Thanksgiving in the U.S. is over and you don’t have to look hard to see that we are in the middle of the holiday season. This is an odd time of year for me that has meant lonliness for many years.
My counsellor often says she feels like she is snooping in my personal life when she reads my blog. In this post I will freely share some very personal thoughts and moments for anyone who cares to read them. Only sharing certain parts of my life was always one of my ways of protecting myself. It procteted me from me and from everyone else. Being more authentic has been freeing though and writing some of these personal things is therapeutic, so here are some of my holiday memories. Maybe writing about Christmas past will help me change Christmas future.
I am not sure why this one always come to mind, but my first Christmas away from home was on a ship in the middle of the Pacific. 5000 people stuck in a small ship is usually not that lonely, but I think most of the crew was lonely that day. We seemed to bond over that, though and even though we all wanted to be somewhere else, it turned into one of those movie Christmas’. We sang, we cried, we prayed, we ate and we even laughed some. We were all closer that day than any other time I was on the ship.
Years later I experienced a much worse kind of lonliness at Christmas. I was going through a pretty nasty divorce and we shared custody of our 2 year old son. I was to pick him up at noon Christmas day. I went to see him and no one was home. I called my ex, but no answer. After waiting to make sure they were not just running a little late, I went to the police with my court order. Turns out there isn’t much they can do on Christmas day. No criticism to them, they were understanding and empathetic. My ex knew how to work the legal system to her favor and I have not seen my son at all in the 15 or so years since.
6 or 7 years ago, I had gone home to see grandma one last time. I spent a month or two after she passed with my parents. At that time, I think I was really struggling with my identity and I was realizing that no matter how much I love them, my parents are not good for the adult me. After a month of sleepless nights, I decided it was time to go home to Canada. This was in the middle if the recession and I had made very little money in the months I was away. Jobs were literally impossible to find down there. So nearly broke, I left about a week before Christmas to drive cross country to Victoria. I couldn’t afford a hotel, so I made record time, driving about 20 hours a day. I got off the ferry in Victoria with a dollar or two to my name, my gas tank almost empty and no where to go a day ir two before Christmas. I spent that Christmas in a homeless shelter and thankful for it. After the holidays I was able to stay at a friends, find a good job and start rebuilding my life. My parents and I have not spoken since I left on that trip. It is sad in a way, but I also think that allowed me the freedom to be who I am.
Christmas triggers a lot for me. I want to change that. One thing I know though, being alone at Christmas is not preferable, but it could be a whole lot worse. I am happy and healthy and more confident in myself than ever, so how could it be all bad?