Just so y'all know, I am not going to be smart for the next month and a half or so. I was having issues on Tuesday getting distracted from both the proofing and the porn in the story I was supposed to be editing. Boss lady told me to go home and go to sleep.

As an inadvertent demonstration of this, I've just now been reminded that A) there are only 30 days in November, and that B) today is November 30th. This should have sunk in when I tried to miss a show I had tickets to on Friday because for some reason I thought it was on Sunday, but no. My bank is closed on Sundays now, because the universe hates me, so anyone I promised anything complicated to on the 1st is actually going to get it on the 2nd. You have no idea how sorry I am that I managed to fuck up counting and months, two things we all learn in kindergarten. Mainly because digging anything out of my brain and making it known to people on the outside takes a lot of energy, and it seems fruitless to grovel when it won't turn back time and fix things anyway.

The reason I'm going to be stupid for the next five or six weeks is because the next five or six weeks are incredibly depressing for me, and nothing makes you into an idiot faster than misery. I cope perfectly well with the world getting dark at 4pm, but the holidays are here, and the holidays are the time of year you're supposed to spend with your relatives, who are supposed to love you and treat you with the respect due to an independent human being. I'm glad other people have that, but I don't. I don't have any relatives worth talking to, or at least none who won't immediately pass anything I say to people I moved thousands of miles to avoid.

Normally I would cope with this by spending time with my friends, but my friends generally have families who don't function entirely on the whims of someone whose state of mind can best be compared to a narcissistic 17-year-old, so they all fuck off at the exact same time. I would have just skipped the show, in fact, had I known that not even the local regulars would be there, and that having no one to talk to during intermission would make me feel small and oddly queasy.

People occasionally try to fix this by inviting me to spend the holidays with their family. I really cannot think of anything that would help less, short of giving my parents complimentary airline tickets and directions to my apartment. I understand the logic, but by their very nature, these invitations come from people with reasonably friendly, sane families, and there are some finer points to the problem that they always miss. They're generally too smart to say, "Pretend they're your family!" on account of I don't like my family at all, but "Pretend you're part of my family!" doesn't work either. I have no idea how normal people spend their holidays. I'm aware enough to know that TV is a really bad reference for this, but I haven't got a good one. You've just invited me to a holiday party full of total strangers, all of whom have known one another for decades, at the time of year when I am least likely to be able to make small talk without feeling like it's murdering my soul.

I always spent my holidays in a house full of very loud, self-centered people who didn't listen to 'no'. No, I don't want to tell you about that, it's none of your business. No, I don't want you to tell me about that either, it's also none of my business, and furthermore I am your child and not the appropriate person to be discussing this with. No, I do not want to play board games with you, you have specifically banned all the ones I'm any good at because you don't like losing, and you spend most of your time arguing over whose turn it is anyway. No, I'm not being a weenie when I say that cigarette smoke bothers me and that your house reeks of it because you've been chain smoking inside for the past twenty-five years. No, I do not want to come back out of my room and socialize, and if you don't understand why by now, there really is no hope for you.

[I thought I was being terribly clever the first year I told them that no, I would not be coming to camp at their house over Christmas, because I was scheduled to work for the entire break. (I volunteered and made damn sure that I never had enough days off in a row to get argued into visiting anyway, but I elected not to mention that to my parents.) My mother's response was to light up excitedly, turn to my father, and tell him that they could absolutely afford to just hand me an amount of money equal to the pathetic paychecks I would be earning at my student job! In the middle of a restaurant, mind you. I cannot begin to articulate how many things are wrong with that, so it is left as an exercise to the reader. You may be unsurprised to know that I did the math once, and figured out that my mother could not possibly ever have been self-supporting for more than maybe six months, back when she was nineteen or twenty.]

Despite what your DARE officer told you, there are plenty of good reasons to drink. Because it's fun, because you like the taste, because you want to celebrate, because you've just finished your exams and none of the grades will be in before Monday and you need to kill a weekend you'd otherwise spend biting your nails off. Holiday dinners with the family are the only times in my life I have ever started drinking specifically because I wanted to be drunk, and I wanted to be drunk because it sounded like a much better idea than being there. I even knew that while I was doing it, which is one of the reasons I decided to quit attending. It was not unlike the time I cracked a molar and discovered that Vicodin doesn't work on me, and I suddenly understood that there are indeed circumstances where beating yourself unconscious on the nearest block wall really does seem like a reasonable alternative.

Xanax doesn't help with this bit. You can see where 'asleep' works pretty well as the opposite of 'irrationally terrified', but it's not even on the same axis as 'miserable'. Nothing helps with this bit. I always end up broke by Christmas, not because I'm having fun, but because it becomes increasingly difficult to make myself eat unless I get someone else to make it and bring it to me. Finding pants and shoes and a coat and walking to the store and dealing with the self-check stand and then walking home and finding cookware and heating things etc etc etc, is much more than I can manage, and mainly I just lay there and reflect on how stupid that is.

So please don't expect me to be happy, charming, or brilliant until about 2014. I have a show to do on Dec 20, and tickets to the Slutcracker on Christmas Eve, but other than that I expect to be leaving the house as little as possible.

Comments

  1. I want to write something back - just so you don't feel you dumped all this pain out on the world - and nobody noticed.

    Your problem is very real - and is going to be there every single year for the rest of your life - or unless you form your own family and start doing it 'right' - whatever that is going to mean for you.

    You explained it so well as to make it obvious - including the part about being too depressed to eat properly (and less expensively). You write well -

    I don't know if that is your bent, but could you use it in writing something - self-help or fiction? You are not the only one - but you are a writer. I always say we writers exist to put into words what everyone else (okay, lots? some? other people) goes through but can't put into words.

    Maybe you can do your own dark stories every December - and throw them up on Amazon with the power behind them that I hear in your words. Find your tribe - maybe even make at least enough to fund the food deliveries. I'm not telling you to make light of any of it - just to use it, instead of letting it beat you in any way. You are a survivor.

    That's what I do with the stupid illness that ruined my life.

    If I'm being totally stupid, I apologize.

    Alicia

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    1. Meh. That would require motivation. I don't have any. I don't like thinking about this and try to do so as little as possible. I don't like being identified as a "survivor" of anything any more than I like being identified as an "activist". It's not an identifying attribute; it's just a bunch of stuff I think, and it's not really all that important to me either. It will go away in January, like it always does, and in the meantime I would really just like to be left alone. I run an advent calendar every year as a distraction, so people will quit asking me about it.

      Nor will there be any 'new family' or 'doing it right' for me. I have never wanted a spouse or children. Ever. As a small child when people asked me to imagine myself as a grown up, I always lived by myself in a house full of books, probably with some number of animals. I have gotten good at avoiding being pestered about children under normal circumstances, but the holidays add insult to injury as most people assume I'm sad for entirely different reasons than I actually am. They mean well, but fail to check first, and often execute poorly.

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  2. My doctor explicitly banned me from seeing my family for the holidays. She's a good doctor.

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    1. I described my mother's behavior to a university counselor once. His reaction was to alert me to the fact that it was possible to get oneself declared financially independent as an undergraduate on the grounds that having to bludgeon tax information out of my parents every year was detrimental to my health. I would have done it, too, if that hadn't been my last semester already.

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