If memory serves (not always a guarantee), I once told a bedtime story to my oldest son about a turkey who couldn’t gobble correctly, and he ended up saying “Gooble Gooble.” Then again, it could have been a duck who couldn’t quack but instead said “Quackle.”
In either case, Thanksgiving has come and gone. It’s never been a particularly important holiday to me, which I know is heresy to some. I have nothing against it, and I’m especially thankful this year, but the rest of it–all the food, people milling about, football games–isn’t appealing. Add to it my aversion to eating around people, and perhaps you can see why I wasn’t pumped about driving down the road a ways to share a meal with my extended family. I did pretty well, though, and my kids had a blast. I got to see my in-laws and nieces, which I enjoyed. Really, if food hadn’t been involved, I probably would have been happier overall.
I know why I’m hesitant about eating in front of people. Growing up, dinner time was especially stressful due to my father’ mercurial nature. There were also rules at the table we had to follow or else; we had to hold our utensils in the proper way, sit up straight, and have impeccable manners. None of these things are bad necessarily, but having them enforced by barking commands was nerve-wracking.
I don’t expect my own children to follow such rules at the table, though I do get upset when one of my children decides to stand in his chair rather than sit down. We’re also just as likely to eat in the living room and watch a show as sit down at our dining room table. Despite all the progress I’ve made, I’m still genuinely uncomfortable eating in front of people, especially if they’re strangers.
When we got home, I hopped on my laptop. I made some comments to myself, and my oldest son asked what I was doing. “Checking in on my people,” I said as I read sobriety blogs. “I want to make sure they’re OK.”
“People who used to drink?” he asked.
And so I did. I thought about you all during the day and sent prayers and good vibes for strength during what for many is a very stressful day. And I know that the stress continues even if family has left and it’s just you and the left-overs. The holiday season is officially underway now and triggers abound.
Remember the importance of self-care and sleep. Remember to breathe. Remember that feelings come and go.