and that is mostly because of Thanksgiving.
I love holidays. When my daughter was little she was interested in everything. Truly, she had no filters on her desire and energy to learn every darn thing she could about the world.
One of her most ardent interests was religion, and one of the ways we learned about those religions was to research and respectfully celebrate the associated holidays. But, that is another story, or actually lots of stories, all of them wonderful.
How that applies here is that because I left this year, most of the family stuff got left behind. I am not missing my stuff, well, mostly, but the winter holidays, well...I always spent lots of time with my ex's family, telephone calls and visits all the time, much more than he did, which was practically nothing. So, even though his family has sort of banded together, I am still missing that. And, that is inevitable because I have been hiding since I left, and all they have is what he has told them. There was the regular contact at the beginning of the whole end thing, which is when I learned about the lies he has been telling about me for the past several decades. Again, another story, but it informs what is happening now, and that is that I will never have contact with any of them again.
They were, are my family, too. More than they were his. Two of his sisters tried to make contact with me at the first, but I ran for my life and was in a secure hiding place.
After that initial period, it was still clear that I was in danger, so I continued to hide as best I could. Did a pretty fine job of it, by the way, and that I am still here, still complaining about every damn thing, is proof of how well I have kept myself safe.
Silence about everything to family and friends was, well, sure a good idea, necessary even, and there is no benefit to me to share anything with anyone in my life. My sharing and venting is with the people who gave me shelter and kept me safe, my therapist, my attorney and a couple of close friends and those I know in the virtual sense. My original intent was to keep our daughter from knowing the truth about everything that has happened. It is said that children always know more about things than we give them credit for knowing, and that is true, but in this case, mine, it has become very clear that I was successful in hiding the abuse from her.
I now sometimes feel some tiny regret about that when she says things to me, but there are no circumstances under which I would ever have done any of the concealment any differently. It is much better for her to not understand as opposed to having her know of any of that stuff. Frankly, anyone who has been misused, abused and mistreated knows that this is a burden that only we can carry.
To put it on to others seems sinful. There is a host of people who know that things happened, but none of them know the specifics. My therapist insists that I need to unburden myself of those experiences, but simply thinking about talking about any of that is nearly paralyzing. So, I do not. I have no intention of doing so. Ever. There are moments when holding the knowledge and the experiences is crushing, but to put that information in the awareness of another person is something I cannot do and could never bear having done.
And, that is why my holidays are in need of re-crafting. I cannot allow the burden of my presence to be borne solely by my daughter, and the rest of my family is either too far away or is the family of my ex and they are effectively not a part of the life I now have.
Which means that the ornaments I was making this afternoon for Christmas will not be going to their intended recipients. In the midst of making them that realization was like a physical thing. There was no air to draw into my lungs for just that moment. My nose and eyes and chest filled. I mean, I still have friends and my side of the family with whom I can share these holiday things, but I have already made so many and printed lots of cards, completely forgetting that half of my family is gone, I am dead to them. Not as dead as my ex had hoped, but deceased nevertheless.
No more funny and repetitive stories from anyone. No more family fights. No more sisters-in-law and their families. No more nieces and nephews and their children. No more games and songs and silly stuff. No more love and warmth and sharing. At least not from any of them.
I wonder sometimes if any of them miss me or wish that we could talk or get together. I wonder if they remember me for who I am, the person I always was with them. I wonder how much of the lies they believe, especially since I have not defended myself from any of it. I wonder if they still love me as much as I love them. I was the safe place for several of them and I wonder if they ever think about that, our relationships.
I wish that I could just break down and cry about this, but it has been too longs since I was able, felt safe enough to indulge in weeping. I know that I would feel better for a while, but I still cannot do it. I have tried, and the barriers I built against that kind of vulnerability are too strong and I am not able to move past all of that. Now that it is safe to do so, that release is lost to me. Fine. It is what it is.
I was thinking that this is a good opportunity for me to move outside of myself and this pain. I am fully aware of how truly blessed and downright lucky I am. I have shelter, a nice home for me and CoolCat. I can pay the rent and utilities and buy food and some of what it takes to have a good life. All of the good things exponentially outweigh the negatives.
I struggle no more than anyone else in my circumstance and fare better than most, and for that I am most sincerely and eternally grateful. So, perhaps it is not reasonable or fair or grateful enough to long for the release that tears would provide.
I think that I will be helping other people this season instead of dwelling on my own crap. The shelter that protected me could use help at Christmas, as well as the homeless shelters. Maybe the Veteran's group, or one of the community centers. Maybe the holidays will be just fine. A new life, with new practices and new rituals.