Facebook is being polluted, or the more charitable would say “populated” by daily posts about that which each person has to be thankful. It would be a lot nicer if these weren’t daily obligation posts, but instead posts straight from the heart, a moment of pure thanksgiving – given when truly felt.
I even had the traitorous thought of giving in and doing it myself, but each time I did, I was impeded by the notion that, sooner or later, I would run out of polite things for which to express my thanks, and I would dive right down into the biggest cesspit of thanks that lurks in my soul right now. So, I’ll come right out and say it: I’m thankful to be free from my birth family.
Over lunch today, I was thinking about this, and I wound up in the unenviable position of being alone at lunch with my thoughts. With these particular thoughts. And, like poison gas, sticking around with them too long was bound to sicken me. Instead, I grabbed a sheet of paper and a pencil and jotted down every depraved thought in my head, trying a cathartic approach to this ambivalent season.
The end result? A great piece of vitriol, a sheet of paper so incendiary I thought my pocket might explode. That, and a stomach that couldn’t stomach food. And hands tingling with cold, like I’ve got a pinched nerve. And a headache that reaches around my neck and up the base of my skull to throb in sullen pain.
Because when I was done writing it, I realized I wasn’t free after all. I was still captive to all the murky emotions and guilt and anger and hurt, and that I, while I may be free of them, I am not truly free of what they stand for in my heart.
One of the most painful parts is the worry, the fear that my children will not understand. That one day they will grow up and be resentful that I cut off dealing with their extended family, that they will not comprehend the soul-searching and pain severing that gangrened limb of my heart has required.
I know I resented my father for not building relations between me and my cousins. On the other hand, I don’t think he ever had the kind of drama which has been played out over the past nearly two years of my life. Will my children ever understand the difference? Will they hate me for the decisions I’ve made this year? Or will they realize that I loved them too much to keep them exposed to the toxic nature of my birth family? Will they grow strong in the knowledge that they are loved and that a person can choose to accept conventions or, alternately, to create their own traditions?
Intellectually, I know that the future is what I make of it, that the holidays are holy when I make them so, that I have the power to create the future in which I want to live. But fear trumps intellectualism, doesn’t it?
Well, maybe not. I’ve got to hope that the future looks as bright as… as that first taste of freedom.