Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What Thanksgiving is NOT full of...

It is once again the Thanksgiving season in the United States.  Regardless of your beliefs regarding the 'Thanksgiving story'- whether you ascribe to the account the history books promulgate, or you feel that story is a fairy story to hide the ugliness of what really happened... Thanksgiving is a time for family to come together for a magical meal.  Or at least that is what Hallmark Greeting Cards would like us to believe.  For many of us, Thanksgiving is a source of stress, of unhappiness, or of sadness.  Chock full of it.

Being the adult child of a hoarder, I have few happy memories of holidays in general.  Each holiday was marred by my hoarding mother being angry at someone (usually me) and not speaking or participating, or flying into a rage at some point during the event.  If I had this discussion she would point to all the 'things' that I was purchased.  Materially, I had everything most kids my age wanted- except emotional stability at home... a home free of passive aggressive and narcissistic parenting... the gift of being able to make mistakes... not being emotionally, mentally and physically abused... being able to have friendships that included having friends over... the ability to have normal relationships with other family members... the list goes on.

Fast forward to now, I am in my early forties.  I am divorced, and did not have children.  I live far away from my town of birth, and those who are related to me.  Am I sad?  Lonely?  Unhappy?

NO.  Quite the opposite actually.  I have my feline companions who fill my life with laughter, unconditional love, and all the things cats have to offer.  I have the most amazing friends that are my family, and I will be spending Thanksgiving day with one group, and the next day with the folks that I consider my family.  I am off this week, and so far the past 4 days have been full of respite, and quiet enjoyment of my home.  

Why do I bring this up then?  <Sigh>

Because I called her today, to check in.  Her life is full- and it is not of the better things in life.  Besides the obvious hoard, her life is full of unhappiness, loneliness (her cats are just another item to be hoarded and controlled it seems), rumination and a testament to opportunity lost (or more specifically... taken from her).  Her envy of others, her inability to understand the reciprocity of friendships, her constant judgements and inability to see past her own skewed perspective fill her thoughts, her days, her conversations.  Her head, her heart, her house is full of unfulfilled desires, promises, and the hoard.

I will not travel the several hours to my mother's home to share a Thanksgiving meal.  I will spend it with my friends, resting at home with my cats, doing the things I want to do, or conversely... not doing what I wish NOT to. My apartment is furnished in a contemporary yet minimalist fashion, but is not stark or barren.  It is functional, and everything is actively needed, used, loved and has a place when not in use.  I am comfortable with guests any time, and am comfortable with myself, my life, my choices.  

Is my life full of good things?  Yes.  Do I have my challenges and struggles?  Undoubtably yes.  Is my life empty of the most things that made my first 18 years so traumatic, and my first 30 years such a struggle?  Thankfully, YES.  I am able to look at where I have been to ensure that I do not return or continue to do the same things over and over expecting a different outcome.  I honored and have let go of the hurt of a child who wants a mother, who wants connections to those she is related to by birth.  

I have much to be thankful for... and much that is not in my life any longer to also be thankful for.  I hope that someday that my mother will find that kind of comfort in her life.  I keep hoping, but I do not have any allusions.  The only life I can impact is my own.  And I work at that daily.

Happy Thanksgiving to all that celebrate it.

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