For a lot of families, the ideas of courtship, dating, marriage, and eventual childbearing experiences, are traditions that everyone is “supposed” to want, but in my case, I have an aunt, and a mother who taught me that they didn’t choose men who would devalue them, but instead chose their independence.

Are they happy? That’s not for me to decide, is that the life I want? Not overly, but nor do I want to be asked every second of the day why I’m not dating someone, or why I am not in a relationship.

After everything I’ve been through, the idea of being in a relationship is scary, downright petrifying some days.

  • What if he hits me?
  • What if he cheats?
  • What if he breaks me in ways I can’t heal from?
  • Can I survive that kind of breakdown again?

It’s taken me four years to get to a place where I can actually just look at my life and realize how fucking tired I am from trying to sort it all out, let alone heal. There are people in my life who want to do nothing but focus 100% of my energies, and I do mean, MY energies, on making me talk about abuse.

Then there are people who get it, who get that I don’t want it to be the focus of everything I do but don’t know how to talk about anything else, and when we do move on to other topics, we come at things from such different experiences, that it can be hard to find common ground.

Family is supposed to be a refuge, but for too many of us, it’s often the thing that we’re running from. If I could, if I were 100% honest, I’d probably take my mom and tell her I’d rather go to England for Christmas, without the family.

Largely because my mom knows how to bug me, and how not to bug me. She doesn’t expect me to do anything she knows that I don’t want to do, and she doesn’t pressure me anymore, to be something that I am not capable of being, because she has seen firsthand, what happens when I lose my identity.

For years I spent a life being everything I was told to be. Good, Christian, Catholic too at a certain point, and all it got me was abused, creating a shell of myself by hallowing out everything I could have been, that’s what abuse did to me. And when I stopped being abused (finally) that whole part of my identity was gone, and I lost my shit because I had no idea what it meant to be free, I’d never had freedom before, and it scared the crap out of me.

I imagine that’s what it feels like when people are stuck in jails and institutions their whole lives, as soon as they escape, suddenly they go hog wild, and they lose the person they swore they were trying to become. Well I am who I am now, and that’s the only person I know how to be, so if you feel the need to ask me why I’m single, or to even point it out, I’m going to burp, fart, and say “yup” with a bit cake-eating grin on my face. (Seriously, shit-eating grins do not appeal to me though.)

If you or someone you know is going through a similar stage of growth, Christmas is probably, more than likely, going to make it come out because these traumas that we hold onto, fester all year long.

The fake cheer, the booze, and the old resentments always come up at Christmas, but when they do, instead of running away, try to face them head-on. Have the uncomfortable conversations, and if you absolutely can’t 100% stand it, then yes walk away, but this year it’ll be my mom, my aunt, my brother, and myself. A far cry from the giant Christmas events we had as children.

If you have family that you get to see, if you’re not sitting in a jail cell, if you’re at home with the people you love, who irritate you, piss you off, challenge you, and push you to be your best self in spite of their awful words and behavior, appreciate it. Appreciate the moments, because the bad moments are a part of the good ones, and there is always going to be one person, maybe just one, but one nonetheless, who is going to be glad you are there.

This year we lost a lot of famous people, a lot of not famous people too. Over 2 million people have died since Joe Biden took office – I’m not saying you need to put up with crappy behavior or words, but I am saying, just take a moment, in the chaos of it all, to take a photograph of what you see with your mind.

Take it because on the lonely and the cold nights, you’re going to want to remember that moment. Make it a moment when you’re smiling and happy, just stop and take a breath and look around, and remember every face that is there, because you may not see them next year.

Maybe someone’s relationship is over, maybe someone has moved onto another city or town may be another is even gone forever, but one way or another, you’re going to want to remember that they were there. Maybe not tomorrow, and maybe not for a long time, but eventually you’re going to think back and smile, and remember that in the middle of a pandemic in 2020, the first person you saw or hugged in a year, was the girlfriend you loved, of the brother who irritates the crap out of you.

You’ll remember how sweet she was, and how she was kind and protective over your little brother, and how you respected her, and you’ll wish you’d gotten to call her, but you know, life gets busy.

The uncle who is a total jerk and did some crappy shit as a kid, who reminds you that you were a kid, at least in his house, who dropped your third favorite cousin on his head, which is why he’s such a genius today. You’ll miss the people, the laughter, and even the fighting, so just take your moment.

Go to the favorite places you had when you were a kid, find time to take some time for yourself in your old room, spend some time remembering all the shit you went through to get where you are now, so that you can take it home with you and unpack it later.

Take these moments because life is fucking fleeting. There are a lot of people I wish I could have over to my house for Christmas, that I won’t see this year, that I won’t be allowed to see for a variety of reasons, and I miss them.

There will be a lot of things that you don’t want to remember that will come up, so you’ll need that moment, take it when you’re able, and hold onto it, let that be your anchor.

And if it gets really bad, grab a slice of pie, find a corner to sit in and stuff your face while the fireworks explode. Whatever works.

And if you’re out there, and you feel the need to pick up and use, please…consider what you’d be throwing away, consider what you’ve worked so hard to build. Consider that we love you and that this time might be the last time.

If you are already using, and you want to go home….baby go home. You deserve to go home, it’s Christmas, and if you can’t…just know wherever I am, you’re with me.

Sending all my love,

Devon J Hall

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