Every Thanksgiving I tell myself, “It’s just another day, don’t be weird.”
And every year I get weird.
My depression unwelcomely and inconveniently paid me a visit yesterday. I was supposed to be happy. After all, I have SO much to be grateful for. But, I kept noticing how different I am from what, in these moments, seems like the whole rest of the world. I slow down in the Fall too, which distorts my thoughts, and I don't have nearly as much energy or pizazz as the summer tends to effuse.
I didn’t go out on the night before Thanksgiving like the rest of my family, the biggest drinking night of the year. Instead, I meditated, pulled an Oracle card, and set some New Moon intentions. I went to bed early so I could get up for a special Thanksgiving hot yoga class at my favorite studio.
Though I kept telling myself it’s just another day, as I do every freaking holiday, it didn't feel like it. We naturally compare to past holidays and on Thanksgiving one year ago, I was in the middle of a horrible breakup. I sobbed on and off the whole day.
I thought to myself: Here I am alone. Again. And I have been for nine Thanksgivings over the past ten years. I am the oldest sibling, and the only one that is single. I gagged when I saw the photo of the turkey on the family text thread. I learned there was not one thing I could eat (because I specifically told them they didn't have to make me anything special, which they gladly would have - Love you all). Sometimes I get tired of being so special. Sometimes I want to blend in with everyone else like I used to—grab a beer, eat turkey with impunity, and just chill. But, that's not me. For more reasons than one.
I sat with my family for a while, but I’m not good at idle time and “hanging out,” so I went downstairs, put on sweatpants, and laid on the couch, borderline tears. One of my best friends FaceTimed me (thank you, angel), and we openly griped about our feelings, the difficulty of being single at 35 in moments like this, but that we really do love our lives on the other 360 days of the year that aren't major holidays.
It wasn't even 1pm when I decided to spend the rest of the day alone on the couch. I dove into my novel . Then it occurred to me I can still spend time with my family even if I'm not feeling stellar. I microwaved my TV dinner of vegan meatloaf, mashed potatoes, corn, and peas, and up the stairs I went. I didn't say hi to anyone and I just sat at the table because I am awkward with hellos. It turns out my thoughtful sister-in-law made a salad without cheese, just for special me. These little things that make a difference when I am feeling so out of whack.
My brother said, "Hey Lindsey!" and I felt bad I hadn't greeted him. "Hey, I’m sorry I’m just in a bad mood today, well, not a bad mood... a sad mood." Naming it gave me a sense of relief. I could be me, exactly how I felt in that moment, even if my energy didn’t match the conventions of the day or the vibe of those around me. I don't have to pretend to be anything I'm not.
I haven't ever shifted gears like that and turned my day around, when I had just felt so slumped and alone and defeated. This probably doesn't seem like a big deal for most, but for me it is huge and I am proud.
We ate and laughed and went for a walk. I ended up having an okay time - I wasn’t all happy or all sad, it wasn’t all good or all bad, it was just another day.