As much as I hate to admit it because I feel like such a Scrooge saying so, I hate Thanksgiving on some level. I like the parts where it's just me and my sister, who is basically my best friend. Every year we participate in a two-mile fun run on Thanksgiving morning. Lately we've been working on a screenplay together so we spent most of the time coming up with plot points and dialogue as well as rolling our eyes at the snobby parents and bratty kids jogging by.
I hate the other parts though. I hate the stress that permeates the household as the deadline of 5 o'clock dinner looms closer and closer. I hate the panic my mother sets into which then sets my sister off. I hate the way my dad shuts himself away into his study until guests arrive, just like he does every day, isolated from us as if to insulate himself from whatever it is that makes us not good enough for him. I hate realizing as the afternoon wears on just how bad at entertaining and socializing we are and how weird that makes us. But most of all I hate how much I dread having my extended family come over.
I mean, people are supposed to love their family. I see all the pictures on Facebook of people posing with their cousins. I guess I never got that experiences because mine are significantly younger and I feel really awkward around children, especially when their parents are around. And I hate that I feel awkward around children because that's so stupid. People are supposed to love children and feel free to be goofy and stupid with kids. I avoid talking to them, making eye contact with them, and even being near them because I feel so uncomfortable. I feel this obligation to be a good cousin, a cool cousin and play with them, but I feel so overwhelmed by my inadequacy that I can't bring myself to do anything. This is the first thing that makes me feel like a failure.
I also hate how I feel generally terrified by the adults of my extended family, even my own grandfather. I'm afraid to look at them, be near them, talk to them. I try to find tasks in the kitchen to keep busy or I just sit in a corner as far as possible from the apex of conversation. Most years I hide out in my room until I'm forced out by the announcement of dinner time's arrival. And while I didn't start in my room today, once dinner finished, I immediately slipped away to retreat to my quiet haven. I spent most of the remaining night there, guilty but alleviated from the overwhelming discomfort or being in a room full of strangers and potential awkward encounters and uncomfortable small talk.
I hate that I'm that shy, anti-social girl who will only talk to people she knows, leaves other people out, and is afraid to look you in the eye. I don't want to be a rude person or someone who doesn't seem to care because I don't like people like that. But I'm not sure how to conquer this deep-seated inexplicable discomfort with strange people that takes hold of every fiber of my being when I'm in situations with strangers.
Lately I've been wishing I could make friends and be normal. Go out and do stuff. Get a boyfriend. I think about what a freak I am for being my age and not having dated anyone. I berate myself for not having the courage to talk to this really funny guy who I sit next to in not one but two classes. But he's always so absorbed in talking to other people and I hate breaking into conversations. But I hate not even getting the chance to get to know what a guy's like.
I guess though, on this day of thanks, I should take time to realize that I've come a long way. It's small steps that take you places. We can't put too much pressure on ourselves in recovery. And even if I don't have a boyfriend or a lot of other friends, I have my sister who I have so much fun with, my mom who is always there to listen to my stupid ramblings, and a couple other people who I sometimes adventure with. Sometimes that's all you need. Maybe a boyfriend would just end up being disappointing. After all, what guy would want to listen to my emotional rants, rambles on historical theory, petty daily grievances, in-depth evaluations of Dancing With the Stars, or gossip about friends and celebrities?
I think we spend a lot of time making up stories about what we should have, what we should be like, what our lives and families should look like, but we're just making up stories. We're just jumping to conclusions about other people's lives. I'm sure most people's families are embarrassing, awkward, and/or dysfunctional too. I'm sure a lot of people feel awkward at holiday gatherings. I bet a lot of people feel like the don't have enough friends, or if they do they feel like they don't have many friends who really care. Maybe it's time to stop focusing on what I "should" be and accept myself for what I am while striving to achieve realistic goals for what I can be.