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.
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.
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.
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.