Looking through the window, you would think you were watching a family. Two people are playing video games. A baby is walking about with toys, showing his cars to everyone who will look. Folks are gathered around the table, still strewn with dishes. All of the people are related by blood or marriage. Family.
Then there’s me. The lone person in the room who isn’t actually attached to anyone. This is the Thanksgiving celebration of my best friend’s father and family. To some extent, I feel out of place. A Pagan vegan amongst diehard Christian carnivores. I used to think of myself as easy to throw away. No divorce needed. No separating the family in to factions. They could just point me toward the door and send me on my way. Little by little over this past nearly two decades, I am changing.
This year is different. This year, I am trying to connect. I’m trying to drop my well-honed guard long enough to let these people in. And I am bloody terrified. Immersing myself as part of the family feels dangerous. The more people you love, the greater chance you have of being hurt. The greater the chance for betrayal and pain. Is it worth it just to be part of a family? I’m still trying to answer that question, but I’m leaning toward ‘yes’ these days.
We have plans for most weekends in December. Family plans, and it’s just assumed I’ll be there. These people don’t consider that I won’t be part of family situations anymore. It’s so odd. I have no biological family, but I seem to have acquired a great deal of family somewhere along the way. I sit surrounded by these people, terrified that they’ll see whatever it is in me that those who hurt me saw. And then my best friend’s father nearly crushes me in a warm hug, telling me he loves me. Part of me loosens a bit inside. Part of me enjoys that. Who would have thought a girl with no family coming from a history of SRA and garden variety abuse would find herself surrounded by the love of a family someday?
So t his is my struggle this holiday season. I want to be present in the celebrations, rather than so mentally-guarded that I miss out on things. I want to talk with people, even when I feel they’ll just judge me anyway. I want to function as part of the family, comfortable in the knowledge that that’s how they see me. I want to take this chance for once and hope things don’t come crashing down. My past says this will end in heartache and loss. My current mindset dares to hope it won’t. Here’s to trust!