That special time of year when people who despise each other but share the misfortune of being blood relatives unite under one roof to seethe with bitterness under the guise of Thanksgiving.
How appropriate that a holiday celebrating the coming together of pilgrims and "Indians" - a relationship that would later devolve to mass genocide - should be reenacted 'round our collective dinner tables each year.
What sadist came up with this?
I know I'm not the only one dreading the insensitive comments about politics, religion, life choices. I'm the 4 millionth person this week to point out that "the holidays" can be a difficult time for humans with actual souls.
But I'll try a more original tack here and say something that's really on my mind 24/7, 365:
HOW THE FUCK AM I RELATED TO THESE PEOPLE???
If the facial resemblance wasn't undeniable, I'd swear I had been switched at birth - that my liberal, Jewish, artistic, sensitive, neurotic birth parents who were forced to raise someone else's conservative, evangelical, hardass, Trumpian child are equally confused about it.
Because, for me, the differences between me and my kin go deeper than politics, religion, life choices.
Indeed, those are just outward manifestations of a deeper, inner truth: that - hot temper and dark sense of humor aside - I am literally nothing at all like my birth family, and my inherent difference has been a problem since I emerged from the womb.
A problem for me anyway.
See, while my biological family repeatedly chafes me like an ill-fitting pair of pants (and I'm certain I've caused them a rash or two), they have the good fortune of not giving a fuck about me most days, so those rashes I do inflict have adequate time to heal.
(Overly) sensitive soul that I am, I ne'er seem to take the pants off...opting instead to try to "make them fit," and hurting myself repeatedly - and more - in the process.
You can guess how that's working out for me.
I chafe them. They scar me.
Half the time I cannot decide if I actually love or loathe these people.
But what I do know for sure is that I give them my power.
And that's actually not their fault; it's mine.
My asshole brothers shouldn't be able to say something that ruins my day/week/year.
But they can. And they do.
And, generally speaking, I don't think it bothers them at all.
They haven't the time or inclination to waste on my feelings.
The same can be said of my step siblings and folks.
Maybe that's a healthier way to live - who knows? I certainly don't.
Many's the time I thought: that's it. The straw that broke the camel. I'm washing my hands of the lot of them!
It's the only solution I've come up with to address the truth: that so broken am I - so singed my armor - that the sting of their words and actions repeatedly pierce.
The battle is lost.
Forego the war.
Wanna stop hurting? Avoid those that hurt you.
But the knowledge that even my absence wouldn't effect them just twists the knife.
I've got bookshelves of books on codependence, letting go, boundaries. I've spoken to so many therapists I've lost count.
None of it stems the dread that builds on the car ride to every family function (those to which I am invited anyway).
Thanksgiving's in a few days, and the internal pressure is already mounting.
I'll lose sleep and appetite over the next few days.
And I have no one to blame for that but myself.
I mean - they're not sitting around worrying what abominable thing someone's gonna say or do to them over the course of dinner.
How fortunate for them.
I wish I could be so self-satisfied.
But I'm not.
And whether that's a consequence of my upbringing or merely a manifestation of my nature, I dunno.
All I know is that it hurts.
And that I will be blamed for hurting. I will be told - if my feelings are acknowledged at all - to "man up," something about bootstraps and your-life-is-your-own and all that. That they can't hurt me if I don't let them. That my pain is therefore not their fault for being shitty, but my fault for being so sensitive.
That is the way of things.
For they are the pilgrims, and I am an Indian.
Welcomed at the table today, perhaps, but an obstacle tomorrow.
I dream of walking away, but like as not, I'll be forced out.
Walking my own Trail of Tears.
Because my presence is undesirable, and they need the space to form their own, more perfect nation.