I can’t wait for 2019 to be over, especially November. It has never been a particularly good month for me, but I always looked forward to Thanksgiving. It became even more fun when my boyfriend moved in a few years ago. We created a new tradition where we would prepare the turkey the night before. I would make herb butter while he searched around inside the bird for the bag of giblets, which he seemed to always have a hard time locating. He would then rub the butter on, making corny jokes and pretending to run after me with his disgusting hands. We would spend the night together and the next morning, I would put the turkey in and start cooking. My family arrived early. Once we sat down to dinner, he would take an annual photo biting into a turkey leg. My mom always sat next to him at the table and would always lean in to be in one of the pictures. I have a picture of him from each year with a turkey leg. The first Thanksgiving he ate with my family, my dad was looking all around the table for the oversized meat serving fork, only to realize my boyfriend was eating his meal with it.
When we broke up a few months ago, one of the first things I said to my sister was that I was not hosting Thanksgiving this year. Luckily, she bought a house and so it seemed like a natural transition to move the holiday to her place. I am just dreading it. Everything about Thanksgiving reminds me of him. And it is especially difficult because I keep imagining him alone. I know that it is really his own fault that he is, but it still is really hard not to feel sad about it.
Each year, my sister and I attend a local craft show. There is a woman who will personalize Christmas ornaments with names. Each year, I bought a different one with his and my names on it. Last year, it was two little wooden stockings hanging on a mantlepiece that said “and the stockings were hung…”. The red and white stockings had our names written on them. This year, I was looking at the ornaments and noticed the same ornament, but with a solitary stocking. “and the stocking was hung…”. I wanted to get it, but my sister said it would just make me sad to see the ornament on the tree with only my name and a singular stocking. It was just another reminder of everything I have lost this year and how alone I am now.
When I got home from the craft show, I pulled out the box with all of my Christmas ornaments in it and went through them. I took out all of “our” ornaments, but he also had some ornaments of his own, two in particular that were from his godparents when he was a baby. I am hoping to be able to enjoy Christmas more than Thanksgiving, so I decided to mail him the ornaments now, rather than letting them just wait for me to discover them again when I decorate the tree. I packed them up carefully and went to the post office, where I proceeded to cry the entire time. It was like another piece of him gone, another reminder that our relationship is permanently over.
I was not expecting a response from him. He had messaged me a few weeks ago saying he missed me and I did not respond. I found out his grandfather died last week and he did not tell me. It was difficult, but I decided not to send him a sympathy card. We truly have had no contact. However, he did text me and it was not to say thank you. He demanded that I never mail him anything ever again and if I find something else of his in my house to discard it. He also accused me of knowing that he was at 90 days of sobriety and that I was purposely trying to upset him.
I talked to my therapist and told her that my intentions were not the way he interpreted them, although I can see now from his perspective how it might have been difficult to open a package from me, not knowing what it was. I truly thought he would want those childhood mementos and I also really wanted to get it over with as far as returning them. After thinking about it for a while, I have to admit that maybe a subconscious part of me wanted to hurt him. I certainly would never, ever do something on purpose to tempt him to drink and I find it unfathomable that he could even consider that. But I am still hurting SO badly and I feel like I never had the opportunity to really be able to tell him that. I know he knows he hurt me and I know he is sorry, but I do not think he really understands the degree to which I have been affected. I doubt he knows that when I close my eyes at night, I picture his limp body on the hospital bed, with tubes and wires all over him. I feel so traumatized by the experience. I really don’t think he knows that. I think he thinks that I am heartbroken by his unfaithfulness and hurt by how his family treated me and angry about his lies and those are all true, but he cannot possibly know what it was like for me to sit in that hospital room day and night for almost a month, not knowing if he would survive, but also knowing that if he did, our lives would never be the same and our relationship was over.
Growing up with a violent alcoholic father made holidays very unpredictable and often very volatile. I could write ten different stories about ten different horrible things my father did to ruin holidays while I was growing up. I am sure most children of alcoholics can do that. When I took over Thanksgiving and started hosting it at my house, it became a holiday that I could control. It became less about stress and more about the traditions that my ex and I created to prepare the meal. There were never any issues (my father is usually well behaved when he is a guest in someone else’s home). My family would arrive early and leave early and he and I would watch a movie or take a nap. It was just…nice. I feel like I am going to see the turkey leg this year and just bawl my eyes out. I miss him so much. It is so, so hard to not know what or how he is doing. He lives so close, but I feel so far apart from him now. Our lives have moved on separately and now there are things we don’t know about each other. His grandpa died (which I only know because my best friend is his cousin), he started a new job (someone told me he posted on Instagram), I am sure there are things I don’t know about at all. He doesn’t know about the problem I had with a student at school. He doesn’t know that my sister had a miscarriage last week. He is still the first person I want to call when something happens. I just can’t. It just all hurts so much still.
I bought a journal on Amazon at the recommendation of my psychiatrist. It is a gratitude journal where each night you can write three things that happened that day that you are thankful for. I plan to start using it because it is easy to slide down into the rabbit hole of sadness and self-despair and depression and only think about the bad things. I know I need to start recognizing the wonderful, beautiful, happy moments that have been overshadowed for so long.
So, to practice…today I am thankful for:
- The hysterical “30 Rock”, which I binge watched all day while grading papers
- My sister’s house being a five minute drive away, so I can see my niece every day
- Nyquil (bc I am sick and I know it will help me sleep tonight lol)