Some things never change. Families will forever be dysfunctional and create angst, drama and tension during the holidays. Mine is no exception.

I’ve been known to skip the family get togethers if I emotionally cannot handle the added stress. I just know my boundaries and limits when it comes to those kind of things and the health of my heart and sanity is too damn important to knowingly throw myself into an environment that will literally make me feel as if my soul is being gnawed at. But that’s the thing. I have the choice whether or not I let them make me feel that way. If I was perfect and the strongest human being alive I could single handedly just smile, say to each his own and then continue enjoying the time. BUT, I am far from perfect, I have feelings and sometimes I screw myself over when I choose to believe the best and almost delusion-ally project that this time will be different.

Maya Angelou said, “This first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.” That lady had a lot of wisdom that came from a lot of pain. I just don’t understand why there is so much god damn judgment and negativity in this world, especially in families. I mean seriously, each and every one of us knows how it feels to not be accepted for who we are. We know that we have breaking points, we know how it feels to be around energy suckers and we know how it feels when we as individuals don’t matter to people. Sigh. But on the flip side, when someone shows you who they really are, it’s up to you on whether you are going to just accept them and then take the necessary action to guard yourself.

Ok. I’m having a moment. I’m just venting from the bullshit that was yesterday. My original plan a couple weeks ago was to skip Thanksgiving this year. Like seriously pack up my car, drive somewhere a few hours away and write. But I changed my mind and instead figured I’d do what I “should” do and just go put in some face time. Fuck you, Mercedes. Fuck you.

Oh and don’t worry, by the time I finish this post, I’ll be back to my happy go-lucky self. This is my therapy and how I work through issues. My mind is like a pin-ball machine if I don’t write shit out. If I want to make any headway on working through issues, “I gots to write it down, yo”. Otherwise,  I try and get it out verbally and it comes out as a hyperventilating ball of jibber jabber and the person on the receiving end looks at me like I have genitals sharpied across my forehead. Still with me?

My family is a perfect example of what is wrong with this world. Seriously. I am not the one that can shout from the rooftops that I don’t know where I would be without my family. Ha. I actually do know. I’d have a whole hell of a lot more money because I wouldn’t of had to pay for all the psycho-therapy to help me process my childhood, I would be very boring and lack the ability to empathize with people and show compassion because I would have no idea what heartache, disappointment and straight up infuriating aggravation feels like. Oh, and I probably wouldn’t have the aversion to publicly talking about politics and religion that pumps through my veins at full force. I also would have used my resources, scouted out grounded, secure and non-judgmental adults and asked the “facts of life” questions all parents are supposed to either tell their children or just lead by example. But let’s get real, we all have our issues. Our family included. Every member of my family is only doing the best with what they have. The same can be said for anyone else. So, I try not to be too hard on myself or others for that matter; I know I can say that and mean it 100% because I’ve spent 27 years having others issues projected onto me and being put through the ringer because of it and you know what? Immature, wounded and insecure me is guilty of doing the exact same thing. But when you recognize your own bullshit and commit yourself to resolving it, and more importantly healing and growing from it, it all changes and things start to shift.

On a normal day, I’m ready and out the door in less than 30 minutes. I’ve got my routine down and I don’t spend a whole lot of time putting myself together in the morning. But when I’m nervous, anxious or just really dreading something…I take my sweet ass time. That’s precisely what happened. I started getting ready at 10:15. I left the house at 1:19 to head to family Thanksgiving. It took me 3 fucking hours to get ready. I tried on probably 20 different things making sure it made me look healthy and not overweight because I knew my father would have something to say about the fact that I was no longer 89 pounds. Still subconsciously needing your father’s validation Mercedes? When will you learn…I should have known that I was literally shaking inside when I stopped at the gas station and bought a double Rockstar Lemonade and downed the whole thing in 15 minutes. Side note: I’m a redbull kind of girl. Rockstar makes me feel bullet proof, which shouldn’t be a bad thing, but it seems that I only drink Rockstar to avoid things instead of just dealing with them. So freaking weird the things that people use to escape their problems. I’m just glad I don’t have to scope out cocaine and strippers to do my avoidance dance.

“Hello Thanksgiving Day, This is Mercedes’ subconscious. On the outside and even in the loud ass voice in my head I’m going to tell myself today is amazing, bright and glorious and everything good is going to happen. There will be no family drama, no feelings of utter emptiness and loneliness and it’s going to be one of the best days of your life.”

“Oh Hi, Mercedes subconscious, this is Thanksgiving Day. I’m gonna blow that delusional image you have of today to fucking bits. Yeah, I’m just gonna take a big bucket of red paint and have a party all over than clean little canvas of a rainbows, glitter and ponies day you have built up in your mind.”

Every year prior, I’ve had a significant other to provide a sense of comfort and “I got your back” mentality. It was a little easier to walk into the lion’s den of emotional fuckery when it was with someone else. There was just a calming sense of “you can do this” when I could blast music on the way there and get my game face on, grasp their hand as we walked in and shoot them “please come give me a hug because I want to scream, cry and drown myself” looks throughout the night. I knew they’d be driving me home after I downed 2 bottles of wine to get through the evening and then I could pass out. Then they’d be looking at me with confusion then next morning when my depressive hangover and hyperactive analytical mind went crazy. They didn’t have to understand it or even help me work through it. They just needed to be there with me.

This year I was going stag and it didn’t bother me. One thing I’ve learned, it is much better to be alone and taking on the world, then be with an asshole or someone who is not right for you. The amount of stress and unhappiness it brings to even the smallest details of the day will make family holidays look like a cake walk. But we can talk about that another time.

So there I was, cruising down the highway, jacked up on a false sense of invisibility. It was like the scene in 8 mile when Eminem stares at himself in the mirror. INTENSE.

I pulled up, one of my cousins is outside. One of the one’s I’m not close with. We say our surface hellos, I go inside. Ugggggggh. Energy was bad. Not good, Mercedes. I tightened up but threw my shoulders back, put a smile on and took the deepest breath I could have. Then the inner panic started. I immediately started missing Mia. She’s the second youngest cousin of all of us, but also one of my best friends, my mini-me and the person I mother hen severely. I felt like if I had her there with me, I could get through this. Shit, Shit, Shit.

That just set the tone. Everything that happened seemed 10x worse than it really was. When my father called me chubby less than 5 minutes after arrival, I more or less threw in the towel and opened myself up for the predictable holiday I was about to experience. To me, it was all too familiar.  The rest of the day needs zero elaboration. I am fully aware of the problems that exist in my family and that it’s all about acceptance. So I went into the bathroom, burst into tears, sent Mia a video telling her how much I missed her and then spent the next couple hours seeing how much has divided our family and turned us all into little countries silently fighting each other with an ally here and there.

Then I looked at Savannah and McKenzie. The second set of twins in our family. Adorable little things. The pain in my heart I felt at that given moment was awful. I missed my sisters and my nieces and nephews. All I wanted to do was hug my family. But we are so distant and broken in our relationships with each other and our parents that even  a Happy Thanksgiving text message is something weird and foreign. I couldn’t hold back the tears. My dad saw me and said “I got a tearful phone call from Mandy earlier too. She’s having a rough time with today.” Oh how every ounce of me wanted to grab both him and my step-mother and say things that I’ve been waiting years to unleash. And with that emotional tidal wave, I said my goodbyes.

Bottom line: I allowed myself to get worked up, I went home and spent the next 12 hours in a depressive state and then picked myself back up because I cannot allow myself to be sucked into something I have no control over. My family is my family, plain and simple. Do I want to be happy or do want to try and take responsibility for issues that aren’t mine? I can only take responsibility for myself and act on my own accord. Instead of wishing that my family was different, I better just accept them they way they are.

I wish I could say I am strong at every given moment and can get through everyday life in perfect, sunshine fashion. But alas, I am human. Sometimes this ray of light is more like a very broken bright-lite with a short in it and that is totally ok. Trials, tests, difficult relationships, dysfunctional families and all that other nonsense are what we are given to transform into better people.

I have to be proud of myself. I showed up. Though I probably should have stuck to my original plan and ducked out of Thanksgiving this year, I guess my heart won over my mind. Deep down, even though my family drives me crazy and sends me into sheer panic sometimes, I love them. I don’t want to regret not showing up later on in life. I got to hug my grandmother, give my cousin a pep-talk and see my aunt, who is battling cancer eat an actual meal and with a smile on her face. And you know what, this is the first year I stayed sober through it all. My father may have hurt my feelings, my step-mother may have been her callous and condemning self and political talks coupled with really negative family members may have sent my blood pressure through the roof, but I survived it; With an appreciation that all those things make them who they are and I still have love for them regardless. Plus, I’m sure they have a few choice words to say about me so I guess it all comes out in the wash.

They all teach me how to be better and how to love better. So learn from your family members. Accept them for who they are because that’s how you want them to see you.