I try to get into the holiday spirit every year for the sake of my son. Before him, I tried for my husband and his normal, happy family. I don’t like feeling like a scrooge or ruining other people’s joyous moods, so I spend most of the season disengaging or forcing a smile–which reminds me of my entire childhood. But on holidays there are added expectations and forced interactions. In my case, it means spending a lot of money to allow the people who hurt me to have a relationship with their grandson, and continue the facade that we have a wonderful, normal, healthy family.
It can be hard enough on regular days to pretend to fit in and appear happy and well-adjusted. I want to kick myself because I have so much. I have a wonderful husband and a beautiful boy who I can see myself in. He heals me in ways that I never thought possible, as does my husband’s love. So, why do I feel miserable inside during holidays? I guess it’s because it all seems so fake. Worse yet, I contribute to the phoniness with my forced smile and cheer, and thoughtful presents to the undeserving. It awakens memories of all the senseless Christmas fights and drunken words used as weapons, excused by time but never apologies. It reminds me of being laughed at for the Christmas photos because my eyes were closed, and the commentary that it didn’t matter because no one would notice since my eyes were so chinky anyway. But I was supposed to laugh then, or be told I’m uptight with no sense of humor. I can’t even laugh now. So Christmas conjures up all the policing of my emotions, which I continue to do to myself in order to feel kind.
If I was brave enough, I’d divorce my adoptive family. I often wish I could wipe my memories clean of them all. I’d stop buying them gifts, sending cards, and including them in anything. But I still feel like I owe them, I guess. I tell myself that it’s all minor things to keep the peace and that I can get through these occasions like everyone else does. However, deep inside I fantasize of moving away with no forwarding address.
I haven’t felt suicidal in several years, despite spending the bulk of my life that way. I have people to live for now–my son and my husband. And I honestly accept myself a lot better now that I’ve been in KAD groups and feel some sense of belonging and understanding. It’s just my damn adoptive family who I’m supposed to be eternally grateful of for saving me.
So, as of last week, my new year’s resolution is to get through this Christmas and starting in January, find a way to create some boundaries and learn to live free from my adoptive family’s negativity. I’m not really sure what that looks like yet, but there are a couple of therapists on this site that I’ve saved to contact. I’ll start there. I guess my way to end an otherwise negative story is to say that I know it’s on me now to make changes if I want to be happier. From other people’s stories on here and elsewhere, I’m learning that not only do my loved ones deserve a happier version of me, but I do, too. I love living for my son and my husband, and making others feel good. But not everyone deserves to feel good at my expense. I need to start living for myself as well.
May everyone reading this find peace, too.