Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankful

Thanksgiving is a very difficult holiday for me.  It serves as a reminder for what I am missing in life.  If it were up to me, I'd take a long road trip and camp in the wilderness until this gluttonous holiday is over.  I can only really remember foster care after the age of eight.  I don't remember much of my time and placements before then.  There are 10 Thanksgivings in foster care that I remember.  I spent every single Thanksgiving, except for a couple, at a strange table with strange people in a strange house.  Every family had their own traditions and quirks.  One family made these special cookies with Hershey kisses in the middle of them and everyone had to eat one and say what they were thankful for that year.  One family had a treasure hunt.  One family played a basketball game before dinner and the list goes on and on.  I never got to enjoy these things as tradition because I was always the new person.  I was always unknown.  I was always just a guest.  I was never part of the family.  I spent every thanksgiving as an outsider.  I observed.  I sat quietly and watched families enjoy the time they had together and studied them.  I would watch my foster family interact with each other--everyone grazing on appetizers, hanging out and enjoying each others company.  This is what family is, I thought.  I want this.  I want to be part of this.  Will I be here next year?  Will they be my family next year?  Do they remember my name? 

Thanksgiving is a day that reminds me that I've never had that kind of connection.  It reminds me of what I'm missing.  It reminds me that I don't have family.  It reminds me of all the Thanksgivings I cried myself to sleep overcome with desire for family, stability and tradition.  It reminds me of how different I am from the average American.  It reminds me of how undeserving I am of family.

While I have somewhere to go this year, that wasn't always the case.  After I aged out, I always spent Thanksgiving by myself but not by choice.  When I lived in the dorms in college, the entire dorm would shut down for the weekend.  I would be the only person in the entire building.  I would run up and down the hallways, check out all the laundry rooms, and lounges on each floor.  From my room on the 12th floor I could see a family sitting down to their Thanksgiving dinner.  I watched them for a little while and made up conversations I thought they might be having.  One year I lived with my now ex girlfriend in a dorm room.  When Thanksgiving came, she went home and I was all alone in an empty building again.  She couldn't take me home with her because her parents were against gay relationships.  I know her family is more important than I am/was, but it still hurt. 

Thanksgiving reminds me of how lonely I am and how much I fear I will always be.  It reminds me of how alone I've been my entire life.  Thanksgiving also makes me angry.  I'm angry that I've lived in 42 foster placements.  I'm angry that I never got adopted.  I'm angry that I almost never spent Thanksgiving in the same place twice.  I'm angry that most people have families and I don't.  I'm angry at myself for not being cute enough, smart enough, special enough to be adopted.  I'm angry that no one ever wanted me.  I'm angry that I'm serving a life sentence for the crimes and mistakes of my mother.  I'm angry that she gets to live a free life while I'm confined and caged by my anxiety and memories.  The night after Thanksgiving dinner is also an anniversary that haunts my dreams and thoughts today.  Thanksgiving night was the beginning of my three year sentence in hell.  Thanksgiving was the beginning of my second long term living nightmare of my childhood.

I don't mean for this entry to be so negative.  I want to like Thanksgiving.  I really do.  I want to enjoy this special family centric day despite it's controversial background.  I am thankful for a lot of things in my life now.  I am grateful for having somewhere to go this Thanksgiving.  I am thankful that I will know most of the people at dinner this year.  I am thankful that I love the people that will be around that table.  I am thankful that those people are in my life.  I'm thankful that no matter how alone I feel, I'm really not.  I am thankful that I have people in my life today.  I am thankful for that little boy that shares my DNA.  I cannot imagine my life without him or his parents.  I am thankful that they are still in my life after everything that happened.  I am thankful they didn't drop me when things got hard like I expected them to.  I am thankful that they didn't even have to invite me to dinner this year.  It was just expected that I would come.  I've never had that before.  I've never had a home for Thanksgiving.  I am thankful that I have a home and a job.  I am thankful that I am healthy and relatively sane.  I am thankful I don't have schizophrenia.  I am thankful that I have access to health care and therapy.  I am thankful that I have a great girlfriend who loves me very much even if she can't read my blog or hear my life story because it upsets her too much.  I am thankful that my childhood is over and I am thankful that I am an adult.  I'm thankful for pecan pie.

I truly am thankful for all these things.  How do I get myself to focus on the good things in my life today and not the pain?  I want to find a way to make the darkness and memories to go away.  I want to just forget all these things and enjoy the holiday.  I want to be excited for holidays and not dread them.  I hate this time of year but I want to love it.  I want to feel festive and excited and happy.