I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving.
I spent my Thanksgiving with two people who up until ten years ago I had not spent any Thanksgivings with. It made me think about how time passes and how things change.
Thanksgiving was always a big deal to my father so I think we usually ate at home when I was a kid. Christmas, we went visiting but Thanksgiving my dad had to have his own turkey. It was sad to me that the last Thanksgiving of his life, in 2007, my dad could not enjoy his dinner. He was going through chemo at the time and so had no appetite and everything tasted like cardboard to him.
After he passed, the first Thanksgiving after his death, in 2008, we really didn’t have Thanksgiving. My mom spent the day volunteering at a homeless shelter and ironically, I spent the day in a similar fashion on the other end of the table, attending a dinner at a church with an AA meeting afterward with friends and family of the members. I being the girlfriend of a member.
Thanksgiving brings with it so many memories. As I said, I spent this year with people who are recently in my life….my friend and housemate and my cousin and other housemate. Neither one was in my life ten years ago. My friend I had just met for the first time about ten years ago, and my cousin is about 25 years younger than me….he is actually my cousin’s son….and he and I did not begin to get close until his mom…my cousin, also passed away in 2008 after my dad died. He moved away after that and came back into my life about 5 1/2 years ago.
My mom is getting too tired to have company at her house so my brother brought her over her dinner. We haven’t even had our usual after dinner Thanksgiving sandwiches as she has been complaining that she doesn’t like turkey and the weather is too cold and she has been tired lately so….
I’m also reminded of the time when I asked the priest I worked for if he would like to join us for Thanksgiving dinner. It sounded to me that he had no family left and we had always had priests visit and join us for dinner when I was growing up. I did not feel comfortable really ever around my boss but once again, I told myself that it was the Christian thing to do to ask him to join us. He declined, saying he had plenty of friends and he would not be alone. Which makes him saying he wanted to stay with me when he came up this way after he retired even more strange when he said it.
But thinking about that day when I asked Father if he wanted to join us for dinner, I was wondering at the time why it seemed so awkward an encounter. Despite the fact that he was not what I would call a real sociable guy, I felt strange asking him if he would like to come to my house. I am pretty sure now that the vibe I was picking up was due to the fact that his intentions towards me…unknown to me at the time…were not very priestly.
I read something this week about people with different attachment styles and how insecurity and lack of love, or abuse and neglect, in childhood can affect how one attaches to and interacts with a love interest as an adult.
I get this. Without proper security and self-esteem, navigating through the world of romantic love can be rather like trying to find your way through a maze blind-folded. Unsure if the next step you take will have the floor disappear beneath you or if you may blindly walk into something that will hurt like hell.
Now, this article that I read….from the internet and not from a Psychiatric journal….also said that some people with fearful attachment styles may navigate towards priests.
This is what I will say to that. First of all, none of the people I have ever spoken with, have said that they went looking for a thing with a priest. Most of the comments I have heard from people are things like, “He was not even my type”, “He was not attractive”, “He was supposed to be helping me with my marriage”, “My child was sick at the time”, “He was kind of strange”, “He was my mentor and like a father to me”, “I felt sorry for him”, “He had many physical ailments and I was helping him out”.
Nobody I’ve spoken with has said their involvement began because they thought it would be fun to flirt with a priest and see what happened. I do think, though, that because we believe that priests are safe with our secrets and are supposed to be “asexual”, that there may be a feeling of being comfortable in opening up to them and of feeling affection for them in a safe space which can be then taken advantage of. But that is not the same thing.
Another thing I have noticed this week of Thanksgiving is the sadness around this time of year and the feelings of loss this week can bring. The loss of family both alive and deceased can stir such feelings of depression and loneliness.
I know myself that I have gone through enough in my life to know that my mom feeling too tired to come over or to have company at her house may not be just a passing thing. There have been many people I have shared a Thanksgiving table with that are now just in my memory of the past. And although I wish everyone happiness, it is sometimes difficult for me to see posts on social media of people sharing their happiness. Their large families and all of their grandchildren at the table or their posts about their blissful relationships and how close they all are and where they are travelling, etc.
I’m happy for them, but it’s better for my own mental health and well-being if I don’t have to see it. I find it tends to remind me of what is lacking for me, and that is not what the holiday is about. And I know that I am not alone in feeling this way as many people who have gone through abusive relationships are estranged from family members or have lost loved ones way too soon.
In speaking with one such person this week, I said, “Count your blessings”. And by that, I didn’t mean to say that the person did not have the right to feel sad. Or that their loss was in any way their fault because it was not. Or that I was being preachy or saccharine or trying to get a job writing greeting cards.
Because I felt sad this Thanksgiving. It hurts to see people with their grandchildren when mine aren’t talking to me. It hurts to see the celebration of a new baby when I know that I will never see the newest grandchild in another state because the parents feel self-righteous and we are “toxic”. I’ve been through that more times with more kids. I think this one is the fifth child lost because the parents or new step-father felt threatened by the old family. Five. A niece. A nephew. And three grandchildren. And so, I understand the loss a grandparent can feel when they are not allowed to see their grandbabies.
My kids either ate with their father or the “other family” this Thanksgiving. I did hear from and get to bring sandwiches and pie to them. The rest of the older generation is gone and I am no longer married so there are no longer crowded tables laden with food in my life. So I get how people feel if they are heating up a turkey dinner for one from Swanson. I have done that myself at one point in time when snowed in alone at home during the holidays.
So, when I say, “Count your blessings”, I am being serious. Many times, in our life, we don’t have control over the cards that we have been dealt. It can seem like the Bluebird of Happiness has flown over our house and forgotten us. We can look at social media and compare our lives to those with tons of food and family and wealth and health and a life that appears to have suffered no hardships and we can feel that we got the fuzzy side of the lollipop, or we can turn off our computers if it bothers us, turn off the news if it depresses us, and if we need to, make a list of our blessings.
For me, my grandkids can choose to cut me out of their lives….but I know that I am a good person. I am someone who will always be here with love and no matter how far away they go, we will always be tied by our DNA. I feel blessed that they are happy and healthy and that their lives are okay.
For my mom, I am cherishing every moment and every memory and everything she has taught me to prepare for the day she will no longer be here.
For those who have passed away, I was blessed to have had most of them in my life.
I also feel blessed to understand what it feels like to know loss and loneliness and the comfort of friends and my home and my dogs. And I enjoy spending time alone with myself.
This person I spoke with this week who has suffered so very much is kind and beautiful and talented and has made a beautiful life for themselves.
And I told this person, just let your light shine. Don’t try to convince anyone else of your worth. Take care of yourself and send love to others. Continue to grow and to learn. And I don’t really need to tell this person that. Just reminding myself really.
Keep counting your blessings and be thankful for them.
I am thankful that I had a nice turkey that came out okay and that it took me an hour to toss together the rest of the dinner that would have taken my grandmother about three days. I am thankful that my ex-husband is doing okay and that both my oldest son and my youngest grandson do not have COVID as both were sick this past week and had to be tested.
I am thankful for my wonderful new therapist who didn’t interrupt me when I went off on a tangent for God knows how long because when I came up for air I said, “I’m sorry, what was the question?” And found I didn’t need to apologize. I’m thankful that my dog is okay as I thought he was dying last week but it was a neck sprain and he is doing better.
Did I mention I got a new microwave? Works so great. No guesswork.
But the thing I am most thankful for this week is that I finally, finally got a pair of shoes that I can wear. I am walking now, unassisted, by the way. But…the foot that had surgery has a mind of its own and swells up when it feels like it so I’ve been wearing slippers and shoes that don’t match. Found a pair of shoes on-line that have Velcro instead of laces.
Yes, I am very thankful. And there was pie. Two kinds of pie. Pie makes every day better. Yes, I said it.
Have a wonderful week everyone. Remember how wonderful you are and let me know if you had pie this week. Take the poll.
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