don't add me to the weight you carry

For Christmas vaca­tion, Heather and I decid­ed to head to her home­town for a few days with her fam­i­ly. Every hol­i­day is unique­ly dif­fi­cult in its own way; this year I could tell it was hit­ting her hard­er than usu­al. She’s been my foun­da­tion since I met her, but under the strain of trav­el and the pres­sures of the par­ents, she began to crum­ble. It didn’t help that her broth­er — who suf­fers from schiz­o­phre­nia — went miss­ing in November1.

cute girl

One of the high­lights was see­ing old fam­i­ly pho­tos, espe­cial­ly Heather at var­i­ous stages of her life.

To be help­less in the face of such hard­ship made me feel like a bur­den, per­haps cause I’ve been strug­gling to regain my sense of self-worth. The most I could do was be present and extra atten­tive to her needs as she sat in her chair each night and chewed the inside of her cheeks for comfort.

It made me a ner­vous wreck. I couldn’t let my guard down or feel com­fort­able or be myself around the very peo­ple I want­ed to impress. At least my pres­ence meant every­one was on their best behav­iour; there tends to be less bick­er­ing and ten­sion with a guest around.

bonding with dog

I’ve been obsessed with dogs in the last few years, stem­ming from my desire to be around things that don’t hide their feel­ings from me. Getting to spend time with Leo (who Heather con­sid­ers an uncle to the kit­ties), was a dream come true.

I nev­er real­ized how much emo­tion­al labour is involved in spend­ing time with in-laws until I strug­gled to pass off an authen­tic laugh at one of her dad’s corny jokes. Not that my time there was entire­ly unpleas­ant. Her child­hood home is filled with instru­ments, and I had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to bond with her mom over our love of music. I final­ly got to meet her pup­per too2, a gold­en-doo­dle mix who’s more lazy than smart.

Christmas holiday

January is already over and I’m still get­ting my bear­ings straight. Between now and the new year, the only pro­duc­tive thing I’ve man­aged to do is escape the plan­et in Subnautica. Becca asked if I have any res­o­lu­tions; I told her I’m always resolv­ing when the strug­gle nev­er stops.

  1. The fact that we now know he’s home­less and liv­ing on the streets of Toronto is cold com­fort. []
  2. Something I was wor­ried might nev­er hap­pen, giv­en his age. []

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