Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Guilt

Warning: This is probably going to be a downer...

Normally, I love Christmas. My birthday is Christmas Eve, which means my whole family would get together for two whole days of wonderfulness. (Keep in mind my 'whole family' always consisted of my parents and my lil bro and my Grandma and Grandpa when he was alive and Josie, who is like my second Grandma but actually like my Great Aunt or something). Everyone was happy, almost every single ornament on our tree was made by us (mostly my mom)- including the one that is just a simple star covered in tin foil from the days when my parents couldn't afford anything else.

There would be cookies and smiles and everything would smell wonderful. We would pick out a tree together and we had special food (including leaving birthday cake for Santa instead of cookies), and everyone was nice to each other and happy for two whole days. It was so great.

One of the first things that I was sad about when my mom left last February was that there was no way Christmas would ever be the same. Well, specifically at that time I felt like she'd been lying to me for te last 23 years at Christmas time when everything was wonderful... but when your traditions center so much around togetherness, and all of a sudden you aren't together any more-- She took away Christmas.

So it's been really hard this year, I've tried to 'get into the spirit,' but it's not been easy. Ranger Man has tried to help, but his family is so completely different than mine that it's hard for his perspective to sink in. Last weekend was better as we got a little tree and I made little mitten ornaments and we baked some cookies, but it still feels crappy that what was wonderful about Christmas- that everyone is together- can never happen again. Christmas is broken and I don't know how to fix it.

But at least that was just me feeling crappy and sorry for myself. I got an email from my dad this morning which started talking about the snow they received over the weekend, and he said "There's not much Christmas spirit here with lil bro and I."

Geez. My dad is second only to me in his love of Christmas. He starts humming carols in July, and I've never seen him happier than when he gets to sort out the presents to who gets what on Christmas morning. So now, along with feeling crappy and sorry for myself, I feel guilty that I'm not at home trying to make them feel better, and in turn probably making everybody feel crappier and sadder. I made a pretty conscious decision to leave and not to be responsible for my parents' happiness or well-being. They're not that old, and if they're not going to try to work on their marriage, then why should I bend over backwards to work on anything else? They're they ones that broke the family, I'm not going to put it together.

Does my brother need to be caught up in all that? no. But is he old enough to leave if he wanted? yes. He's turning 19 in January, he's staying of his own choice.

So why do I feel so guilty that I'm not there wallowing with them?

We're going to go see Ranger Man's family. I can use the (true) excuse that I don't want to leave Webster, and driving to PA from GA is a long drive, but we can take Webster, where I really don't want to put the cat back on a plane again. Plus- people probably aren't going to be bummed and sad and screwed up there, and the only guilt will be self-inflicted.

I really just needed to write that all out- no resolution, moral or happy ending (yet, I guess), but man what a guilt trip.

3 comments:

loquita said...

I haven't gone through a divorce, but a close friend of mine went through all of these things herself while growing up. You're right that you are not responsible for anyone else's happiness. You're doing your best to recognize that Christmas won't be the same as it was, and you're doing your best to grieve that and also move on. *hugs* It sucks that you have to go through this, but I'm glad that you're going with Ranger Man to visit his family.

PS - Where in PA will you be? Email me. :)

Rebecca said...

My parents got divorced when I was six. I don't remember a lot about our family Christmases before they got divorced. But then my dad remarried and we had awesome Christmases. My step mom was SO into the Christmas spirit. Then when I was a teenager, they got a divorce too. Since then, Christmas has been so different. My dad remarried again, and his current wife is sorta anti family and holidays. She found out she had cancer over the summer and since then she's emailed me regularly and said she wants to spent together. We'll see how it all turns out.

Whew! I didn't mean for this to be so long. It's practically a post all by itself.

Lindsay said...

My mom left when I was 11. It was a difficult adjustment all around, but Christmas/holidays/special occasions were the worst.

Then my dad decided he was going to start our own traditions. He wasn't going to allow us or him to wallow. Sure, the first year it felt a bit forced, but soon enough it felt perfect.

You will find your own traditions! It may take a year or two, but you'll get there.