I spent Thanksgiving alone, and it was mostly ok.
I slept until almost noon, which is decadent even for me. (I really need to work on getting to bed earlier!) Then I read a book, and ate some pie, and went to dinner at a restaurant in Cleveland Park, and called my parents, and put up my fantastic aluminum Christmas tree with the hot pink and purple ornaments.
My cousin in New Jersey had invited me for dinner, but it’s three hours of driving each way, and I have to work tomorrow. Plus, I wanted a day to indulge my introversion. You know, like the life coach said, and if I can’t have a year to do nothing, at least I can have a day once in awhile.
I started thinking about other years, other holidays, and that may have been a mistake. Thanksgiving was CSB’s parents’ favorite holiday, so for years we spent Thanksgiving at their place. We convinced my mother to make Thanksgiving dinner on Black Friday so that we could do it all again at her place the next day with my parents and my sister’s family. I always liked having Thanksgiving at both places.
The year CSB and I got married we spent Thanksgiving apart. His sister, who was living in Canada at the time, decided she wanted to do Thanksgiving there, but I didn’t want to miss Thanksgiving with my family. I told him to go. I said we have our whole lives to spend together, go spend Thanksgiving with your family. So he did, and then of course I was mad and sorry that he went. Still, maybe it should have been some kind of sign, that I would send him off like that when we were supposed to be a family.
For two years on MDI, I made Thanksgiving dinner for both our families. I sort of hated it. I mean, I liked the idea of it. Getting the two families together. Doing the young wife thing. Putting on some kind of show of domesticity straight out of my childhood Donna Reed fantasies. (Yes, I had Donna Reed fantasies. I was an odd kid, okay?) But the thing was, I was never good at it. Sure, I had the mechanics down. But I don’t know how to play hostess, and I really have no interest in it. So more than anything else, it was stressful and emotionally draining. It was a day to managed, not a day to enjoy.
Last Thanksgiving CSB and I were already living apart–he was in California. Things had not actually fallen apart at that point, but I had a feeling it was only a matter of time. You will note the use of the passive voice in that last sentence, as if I were not the one who decided to rip everything apart with my own two hands.
The first year that I cooked Thanksgiving, we had people stay overnight. I can’t remember if it was my parents or his, but we let them sleep in our room. I slept on the living room couch and CSB slept on the floor next to me. And I was so stressed out from trying to be good all day that after everyone was in bed I ended up crying and crying, with CSB holding onto me and comforting me, which he was pretty good at. I think about it now and wonder what was wrong with me. Why couldn’t I just enjoy being with the people I cared about? Why did I have to make everything so hard? Why was I trying so hard to please everyone? I guess there was a part of me that thought if I could just make everything perfect for everyone, then maybe everything would be ok. Maybe I’d be happy for a change.
The second year that I cooked was the start of the worst holiday season ever. That year it seemed like everyone’s favorite holiday pasttime was picking on Carlita. I still don’t know why that was. All I know is that something snapped inside me that year, and nothing has been the same since. I had spent years taking care of people, trying to make everyone else happy, and still no one was happy, including me. That holiday season was the beginning of the end. Hard to believe that it was just two years ago.
Everything from that time and place is gone. CSB is gone. Somebody else lives in that apartment where we used to be happy. Even that Carlita is gone, or at least parts of her. I’m still not really sure who this new Carlita is, who sent her husband away and left behind all her family and friends and moved to a new place to try and start everything over and not mess it up so badly this time.
I don’t know if I’m ever going to be satisfied, let alone happy. I think maybe my expectations might be too high. But I will tell you one thing, I would rather be lonely than trapped. I would rather be where I am right now than anywhere else I can think of. I only get sad when I think about everything I had and wonder why I don’t want it–because I wonder what is wrong with me. But I still don’t want it. I don’t know what I want.