Editor’s Note: This is part 59 of Marie’s Story, continued from I Think I’m Committing a Passive Form of Suicide.
This evening, I joined my mom for her company’s Christmas dinner at the Hibachi Japanese Grill. It is a really cool place to eat because the food is prepared right in front of the diners, complete with an entertaining show by the chef.
My mom has worked for this little mom and pop company for 20+ years and has worked for three different owners. I’ve attended, as my mom’s “date” every Christmas dinners and July 4th picnics the owners have thrown for their employees for the last 10+ years. So, I know everyone there quite well. I enjoy catching up with everyone every few months.
One of the current owners and his wife had both their kids with them at the restaurant. The little boy is less than a year and their first born—a girl—is almost two. Throughout the meal, I noticed the dad hugging and cuddling with his daughter. She sat on the table, facing him, and nuzzled her face against his neck. She relaxed into the comfort and safety of his arms.
Seeing that caused a pang in my heart. I am so glad that she will have that kind of experience with her dad. At the same time, I felt incredibly sad that I never knew that kind of experience. I wish I knew what that would have been like.
I wish I could have that kind of experience now, as an adult, with a lover or with a close male friend. But, I find myself having no hope of that happening. I know it happens with people, I wish it could happen for me, but I don’t have hope of that. I want to have hope, but I don’t. It feels to me that such an experience is not an option for me because I feel broken.
At the end of the dinner, I walked my mom to her car. She handed me an early combined Christmas and birthday card with a $100 bill in it. She said that she wanted me to take it and buy a really nice holiday outfit to wear to all my holiday recitals. She said she didn’t want me to use it to pay “necessities.” She wanted me to splurge on myself. She said I should find an outfit that looks really nice on me so I can feel good about myself as I am in front of people—so I can be polished and snazzy.
I really appreciate the thought…and the money. However, I hate shopping for clothes in general. And, I really hate shopping for dress clothes. I hate the process of going to a store, putting on dressy clothes and looking in the mirror hoping fervently that somehow magic will happen and I will like what I see in the mirror.
But, I never do. I guess there is no such thing as magic clothes.
I thanked my mom for the gift and we parted ways. As soon as I turned onto the highway, the song performed by Lady Antebellum titled, “American Honey” came on the radio. The lyrics rang out:
She grew up on the side of the road
Where the church bells ring
And strong love grows
She grew up good
She grew up slow
Like American honey
Steady as a preacher
Free as a weed
Couldn’t wait to get going
But wasn’t quite ready to leave
So innocent, pure and sweet
Well, bah humbug—just rub it in, why don’t you?
All the way home, I wrestled with the weight of knowing the words in that song don’t apply to me. I’m not one of the “good girls” or one of the “desirable girls.”
And, I wrestled with the heaviness of being obligated to go shopping for an outfit to make me feel “pretty” despite feeling like a beached whale. I’m looking forward to that task as much as I’d look forward to a root canal.
The 30-minute drive home felt like an eternity. I couldn’t wait to get home to make myself numb with ice cream or alcohol or whatever I could find, to get through the minutes until I could find relief by falling asleep.
Now, I’m home, and the ice cream isn’t helping.
I wonder how my mom would respond if I told her I hate shopping for clothes, if I told her she was asking me to do something that filled me with dread. Would it make a difference?
You know what? I think I just hate the “joy” of the holiday season. It’s the time I feel most sad and alone. Maybe I’d tolerate this kind of nitpicky stuff better if it were a month from now.
Maybe I just need to tough it out.