Before I knew it, the holidays were upon us. It was Thanksgiving week. Work was starting to become more and more hectic, which provided a continual sanctuary for my battered soul. As the actual holiday approached, I found myself struggling with how to celebrate. I mean, we were still married. Still husband and wife. This was a time to be thankful for any and all blessings. Surely he could handle the sight of me for a weekend. Shouldn’t we plan something? Try our best to go about life as usual? Or, at the very least, go through the motions of pretending to be a family?
The previous Thanksgiving, our first married Thanksgiving, was wonderful. New York City is a magical place to spend Thanksgiving. I’ve always thought so. We lived on the Upper West Side, near where they blow up the balloons for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. On Thanksgiving Eve you can actually walk around near the Museum of Natural History and watch as all the balloons come to life and get ready for their early morning flight the next day. It had been uncommonly warm for that time of the year. We held hands, drank fancy over-priced coffees, took pictures, and frolicked between all of the balloons; remarking how different they looked up close and in person. It seemed so long ago, like a scene out of a children’s fairytale book. After experiencing the grandeur of the balloons, we had met up with friends for wine and cheese. It was a perfect evening, spent with my new husband. I had so much to be thankful for.
What a difference a year makes. Ever the optimist, I was sitting at my desk thinking about what a special evening that had been and I thought to myself, “We live in the greatest city in the world. Let’s do it again. A tradition. A tradition for my little family.” I felt like it showed good faith to make this plan. I was declaring to the world that my marriage would not fail. I was creating traditions. Traditions we would be thankful for in the years to come. I called my husband. I needed this. Please. It would be fun. A great way to kick off the weekend…we had had such a blast the year before. It took some convincing, pleading, begging, but he finally agreed. Baby steps, I thought. Baby steps.
This year the weather was not in our favor. It was cold and damp. As soon as we met up, I could tell he was miserable. In his defense, it was chilly…and we were fighting against a multitude of tourists who had no idea which direction to go or how to walk single file (side note: if you ever travel to New York City, please learn to walk with a purpose and don’t take up the entire sidewalk. We hate that). “Katherine, it’s cold. Let’s get this over with and go home.” His voice was bitter. Curt. It was my mistake. Trying to recreate a feeling. A memory. In my foolishness, I hadn’t bothered to truly listen to him. He didn’t want to do this. He had been clear about that fact, but I pushed. I was always pushing…pushing him further away.
We made it halfway through the maze of balloons before I relented and let us leave. We took a few pictures, where I smiled, pretending this was clearly the best idea in the world. We walked home in silence. Shivering. There would be no wine and cheese. No holding hands. Only silence. I fought to keep pace with him. The tears stung my eyes as the wind whipped me in the face. I had done it again. Why did I insist on being so difficult? So demanding? Maybe if I hadn’t forced this trip down memory lane, we might have actually had a nice evening. I was constantly over-reaching. My heart was in the right place, but that wasn’t enough. It never is, really. That’s just something people say to make themselves feel better, when they haven’t truly assessed a situation from all angles. I hadn’t bothered to look at the evening from his point of view. It was time to start being honest with myself.
This weekend is when the wheels in my head finally started turning. When I looked around and admitted to myself that I was drowning and no one was going to save me. I needed a more concrete plan, but I wasn’t sure what that plan looked like. Hating myself constantly wasn’t working for me anymore. I was tired of feeling like a victim. I’m not a victim. I’m a girl who got dealt a rough hand. I wasn’t the first gal to get sucker punched by life. It was time to find the strength I knew I had inside me. The strength that would help me learn to love again. Not love him. Not love marriage. Not love our life. But the strength to love me.
Ephesians 5:29 “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church.”