I remember how excited I would be if I met someone who showed some real relationship potential in the months or even weeks leading up to the holiday season. Finally! This Christmas I might actually be a part of a relationship - a couple! I might actually have someone to show up with me for the office holiday party and family Christmas gathering! Someone to exchange romantic gifts with and to snuggle with in the cold nights; to kiss under the mistletoe.
And the best part was that I’d have someone to spend New Year’s Eve with – it wouldn’t just be another year with me babysitting my nephews so my sister and her husband could celebrate their togetherness (as much as I loved being Auntie Jane, seriously - they could find another babysitter for one night!).
But most of the time the timing didn’t work out and I was, once again, alone for the holidays. Alone in every sense of the word, regardless of how much time I spent with my family. Alone in a season where everyone was full of excitement about the season of love, peace and joy. Alone in a world where it seemed everyone else had someone to spend it with, except me. I was on the outside looking in with no way of getting through. There was no me and him, just me.
So there I’d be, single again during the holidays. I’d go over to my (married) best friend’s house or my sister and brother in law’s place. And, of course, they were all oblivious to what I was going through. To me they had everything: a husband, children, the house, a pet or two – I loved being around them but it also only highlighted for me what I was missing in my life. And that I didn’t have a life like theirs. Like I wanted. To have someone in my life. Even if their life wasn’t always perfect, it was so much more perfect than what I was living.
The conversation would always eventually get around to how I was doing. As soon as it did I would feel the sense of dread in the pit of my stomach, because I knew what question was coming next. What about that guy you were dating? They’d ask. What was wrong with him? What I really felt like they were asking was “What is wrong with you?” I mean, it wasn’t as if I hadn’t already been asking myself those same questions. But to hear it come from the very people who were supposed to be my support system, well, that just made it so much worse. Because I really didn’t have an answer.
The truth was I really didn’t know what had gone wrong with the last one. Why any of my relationships hadn’t worked out for that matter. Why none of them evolved into the relationships they had showed such a potential for being. I didn’t know if there was something wrong with me, but I was sure beginning to think there was. I think that was the hardest part of all.
As I left their cozy little worlds to get into my car alone, to drive back to my one bedroom apartment alone, the tears would start. They’d begin with a trickle until they were rolling down my cheeks; I could barely see through them to drive. I’d run in the door, lock it behind me, and let it all out. It was like my sad little annual Christmas tradition.