I hope y’all had a Merry Merry…whatever it is you celebrate, even if it’s nothing. If you were alone, I hope you found some joy in that. If you were surrounded by people, I hope you realized how lucky you were and found compassion where it was necessary.
My holiday started off really well. I was in such good spirits and was really encouraged by that. Usually, Christmas Eve itself is my rough day–as it’s the anniversary of the day my mother passed. In the past, I’ve spent the holidays in various degrees of fetal position or traveling and in fetal position–so to be home alone and not be in bed–hating life–was a good thing. That’s not to say I haven’t cooked in years past. For the last few years, I’ve cooked varying things to various degrees–sometimes coming close to what we did when I was little. But never the full meal we used to do–and I never had the fun of cooking it. Of course, when I shared my cooking forays this year, my roommate tried to take credit for all that past stuff…and I didn’t take the bait. I gracefully (as gracefully as you can in that situation) stuck up for myself. Because it wasn’t true, and it was actually pretty inappropriate.
But even that didn’t bother me. I was also not bothered by the fact that no one gave me gifts and that I gave no gifts. I wanted to, but Amazon back ordered till oblivion some of the things I wanted. I ended up canceling them. All in all, it was kind of refreshing to have a gift-free holiday. It made it far less awkward. Certain friendships have changed. Those I considered family before, I no longer really feel that connected to. So, giving some hollow gift would have felt weird. Besides, I really don’t need more things to unpack and find space for.
Sunday morning, I woke up sick as Hell–with stomach bug symptoms and a nasty head cold. I get sick every year. It’s a grief thing. I was determined to cook anyway, but before I could get started, an innocent comment from my cousin on FB opened up a whole can of worms for me, emotionally. (Yes, I am actually FB friends with 2 of my cousins…the Hell!). In that moment, I realized she and I had a completely different understanding of what happened in my family that basically had made me the outcast since I was a little girl. I don’t think she had any idea of what my grandmother did or the fact that I literally had zero relationship with her as a child. She really seemed to think I, too, had these fond memories of my grandmother–when–reality? She was a cold, meanhearted person who spent her entire life punishing my Papa, my mother, my father, and me. And she continues to torture me from the grave because of the wedge she put between all of us. And, in that moment, I had this devastating realization of how intentional it was on her part. That really fucking sucked. The fact that she was a decent human being to all her other grandchildren, but purposefully set out to ignore and hurt me every day of my life? For nothing I did ever? Well, it made me hate her a little bit. And them for being so oblivious to the shit she pulled. Accomplices to it–even now. She robbed me of the only family I’ve ever had–even if it sucks. And that’s kind of unforgivable. So, I had this dilemma yesterday–do I tell them what she did? That–no–I don’t have grandma’s recipe–and no–I don’t remember those things because she never cared enough to share it with me?
How do you redeem that? How do you undo what a bitchy, dead, old lady did years ago?
I decided to be the bigger person. To just say I didn’t have it and to mention how I make a good version of it–but that I don’t have a recipe because I eyeball everything. It made me mad to do that because it was dancing around the white elephant. But my cousin was a child too when this happened. Why hurt her? She has been the only one to be kind to me, all these years. It served no one to tear down her vision of a woman she clearly loved. And honestly, my healing over this won’t be fixed by her hating her. Or me for telling her.
So that cast a heaviness yesterday. A reminder of how unloved I’ve been, which made being alone hard because there’s a real part of me that will eternally feel unloved and will eternally feel like I’m alone because of how unlovable I am. But I carried on. Celebrating this year wasn’t about anything except my own happiness and healing.
For me, this year wasn’t about people. And it hasn’t been since my mother died. Mostly because I don’t really have a lot of close relationships these days. Part of that is just time and how people drift. But part of that has been intentional. I’ve taken stock of my friendships and have made tough decisions. I’ve placed boundaries, and when people run all over them, I take a few steps back. It’s been painful and lonely. But part of moving away from Colorado has been me letting go of the shit that doesn’t belong in my life–including people who treat me badly. It’ll be a while before I’m completely rid of them, but I have faith that letting them go is the right thing–even if it means feeling lonely and disconnected almost all the time.
This weekend was the first weekend that California felt like something that wasn’t awful. And I think it was mostly because I was finally free to do what I wanted. I didn’t have to worry about being too loud or offending someone or forgetting something. I could just go and do things. And honestly, I’ve realized that’s a big part of what I’ve been missing these last several months. The ability to be me and not have to apologize when people don’t understand or judge it. The ability to breathe and exist without someone trying to control it. The ability to leave when I want–to not perpetually clean up someone else’s mess–and have routines I can control. It made me realize how uncomfortable I’ve been in this living situation and how crucial it is that I change it.
Not having a car here is really inconvenient. It helps me choose isolation. Even though I have a zip car membership, I’ve yet to use it for fear of driving here in someone else’s vehicle. Plus it’s damn expensive. Work has been oppressive since I moved here–with much more BS to contend with. While I’m working my normal hours, it’s such a mental drain that I find myself holing up just to recover. And I haven’t found my tribe. Not that I really HAD a tribe in Denver. I isolated there, too, but there were people I could call if I wanted human interaction. I mostly didn’t, but I COULD. And those people, now, have kept me sane here–just as they always have.
I have people out here–a surprising number actually–but nearly all of them live 2 hours away by traffic. It feels like living in the suburbs (which I guess I am, sorta)–only not at all. I’ve not really been able to go anywhere because of the car thing–and let’s face it–no one makes that effort for me. I’ve always had to do the heavy lifting. I’m not saying that in some angry way. Just acknowledging what is. And I’ve got to say–knowing that–makes me know they’re not mine. So, why give them my time? And yes–that has made me isolate a lot more than I want to. But I also feel like part of me has been hibernating. Steeling myself up for whatever this next chapter is. As an introvert, I know I can’t isolate forever–so I have to be in a good place mentally to put myself out there again and again in what feels like a very unwelcoming city.
Which brings me to this–I know my time here is limited. The first weekend I was here, I texted my great friend and told him I was moving home as soon as I could save the money. He laughed at me, having talked me down from many ledges in the past, and told me he felt the same way about Denver when he moved there from St. Louis.
But I don’t see myself ever identifying this place as home. It’s a pit stop for me, and I know I won’t be staying here long-term. I have been heartened by the rain and the extended autumn. I’ve been surprised by how cold it gets here. But the people feel wrong to me. While I like my apartment a lot, it triggered some major self-worth issues in me–which I feel like I’ve dealt with pretty well. Mostly, this place feels like a place to endure, not exhale. So, that’s part of the reason too for my self-imposed isolation. It feels like a lot of work to connect to anyone here. And my friends who have lived here feel different in ways I can’t stand. More superficial, less connected to the world, less real/vulnerable, more obsessed with things. And I just can’t relate. But maybe that’s all a good thing–and what I need for RIGHT now. Because I’ve always felt this disconnect with people. Here? It’s just magnified to intolerable degrees. And it’s time to clean that up.
I know there HAS to be people here I can connect to. But I’m not going to find it in some upscale apartment complex or in some cute Japanese strip mall. I’ve been wanting to volunteer here–to go to events and just get out of this neighborhood. And that’s part of a big plan I have to stop feeling like an exile here. I came here to confront my issues with people–so it’s time to confront them–and have fun doing it. So, I’m working on that. On unpacking all the BS and truly clearing out what is not supportive of that. I’m not going to lie–it sucks.
For now, though, by big focus is on making myself as good as I can be–for myself. Working on the shit keeping me stuck. Setting up good habits. Dealing with my issues. Really nourishing myself. Doing all the things I was taught to do in therapy. Doing things I know fill my cup. Because I have to, just to stay sane here. I never really understood why my ex hated California so much when he lived near LA. When I visited, I always liked it enough–but when you live here–it’s much different–especially when you’re from a different kind of place. I’m hating it less and less, but it’s not mine.
Well, all of that apparently needed to be said. I’d intended to review something–so I guess that will wait for some other day. Haha. I’m off to cook some more.