I Don't Need Anybody and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves For the Holidays

This Thanksgiving was tough.  They say that "in each life a little rain must fall," and sometimes it feels like everyone I know is dealing with tempests at the same time. This year that storm fell on Thanksgiving, all while I was trying to throw a pity party for myself.    

Grandma Plumb with all her grandkids (one more is on the way). 
Besides my strange hesitancy against turkey, Thanksgiving is usually one of my favorite holidays. My family is a rock, and no matter any our personal gales, we have a way of laughing, arguing, friendly wrestling, talking, laughing, eating, giving thanks, praying, laughing, and 
eating our way back to normalcy.  

I was having a hard time finding things to be thankful for this year, though, which is total bull sh!t on my part. I have a great life, a great wife, a decent job, great children, a home over my head, etc. But something in me wants to complain about the holding pattern my life has been in. Those of you paying back student loans and working no where near the hours or pay scale that your college degree promised you, know what I'm talking about.  

I joke about burning my house down (because it was supposed to be our starter home), I complain about never having any extra money after all the bills are paid, no time to clean the house or do the maintenance a home needs, I gripe about still being temporary after 7 years in my district, and grumble how all my once gleaming possessions are all now outdated (seriously my 4th generation iPod is maxed out and glitches). I'm having some serious 1st World Problems. 
Oh, it's not easy being green.  (At least I'm not in the red). 
The best cure for 1st World Problems is by getting slapped by other people's problems (OPP). If you think I'm down with listening to OPP, yeah well, you don't know me (Yes, I know what the actual song lyrics are referring to). I mean, I do listen, and I usually try to give some advice, but it's never taken. 

Sometimes, however, listening is what's important. So many people, including myself, don't talk about our problems. 

At my in-laws house (which we celebrated Thanksgiving with on Black Friday), they have mastered the art of not talking.  We have this huge elephant in the room called CANCER, which has plagued the home for over 7 years.  My father-in-law has survived his death date by almost three years, but still suffers through stage-four lung cancer, and now it's infecting his joints, which makes simple movements grueling.   

He doesn't talk about it ever. His pain is his alone. He is a rock.  

But as the disease carouses around his body it has also latched onto his mind and at times he says or does things that are almost unforgivable. The only way he communicates his feelings are though imprudent outbursts. The family has learned to deal with this the only way it can. By trying to ignore it. But many of his words are internalized and turned to anger, frustration, depression, isolation, fear and hate.  

And as the family has aged with the cancer, they all have crawled into themselves. My poor mother-in-law has desperately tried to keep some semblance of normalcy and decency in the house.  But she's losing the battle, as the family for the most part just does it's own thing.  

"Ah, that sucks, I had a fridge full of Hamms at home!" 
We're just islands in the same home.  I sit hiding in my room, safe within my womb. I touch no one, and no one touches me.  I am a rock, I am an island.  A rock feels no pain, and an island never cries. 

And so the events of my Black Friday put me in a mini-depression. This is my extended family that I love deeply and they are languishing on an island of independence. A land of "I can do it myself, I don't need nobody." They don't need me, or my faith. They don't need God. They just need to be left alone. A rock doesn't feel, and never has to cry.  Sadly, this has become a theme in many "self-happiness" books. Find yourself, make yourself happy, and only then will you succeed in relationships.  

And for many, I call "bullsh!t."  Humans are social beings. We need to communicate our pain. We need to be open to change and alternative opinions and other people's idiosyncrasy; and that acceptance, that tolerance, allows deep relationships to develop. It's only by completely investing ourselves in other people's lives, do we allow ourselves to love, and receive love. Many people are a cancer to their own happiness. Their refusal to allow other's into their inner circle, is the tumor that stymies healing.  

I need my family and God to not fall into cancerous self-loathing (Even though in general I like myself). I have put such lofty expectations of who I am and where I need to get in life, that when I'm alone too much, I get down on myself for not meeting my ambitions. But when I talk and laugh and eat and pray and horseplay and argue and listen to my loved ones, I, in turn, am happy.  So I'm thankful for the balancing of family and friends who keep the tempests at bay. It always seems like islands take the brunt of the storm, anyways.  

I know I'm not cool by posting Collective Soul songs 
(how 1995 of me), but this one always gets me in the feels. 


  1. Chris,

    Thanks for sharing such a person topic with all of us. Your family will be in my thoughts and prayers.

    Communicating feelings is never easy for me. At least only the happy ones are easy. I don't mind sharing joy, happiness and love. It's hurt, fear and anger that are difficult for me. I do feel better when I do share them. Makes me wonder why I don't do it more often.

    1. Yeah, it was tough (hence the ten day break since my last entry), but it had to be said.

      I completely agree (and relate) with your second point.

  2. I understand. My family has things everybody knows but nobody talks about, either. And that Simon and Garfunkel song is kind of a mantra - granted, not the healthiest of mantras, but still.
    I'm sorry about the holiday mini-depression. Hoping things will clear up for your family.

    1. Yeah, thanks. I did link up your blog up there because I loved that Simon and Garfunkel entry.

  3. This culture appears to have more difficulty being up front and honest with one another than any I've encountered. Watch BBC to see a culture that demonstrates a much greater capacity to say what they mean. I have always found that the most touching and satisfying moments of my life are those blessed by the company of people willing to be real with me. By the by, that's why I read your blogs, Chris. Al things pass in time. Just keep your keel deep in the water when the storms are blowing..

    1. Thanks Christina, good advice, and thanks for reading. The Brits do (at least in television) seem to talk through situations a little better...or maybe the BBC just has better writing.

  4. I understand that "elephant in the room that no one talks about" scenario. My family has different elephants, but the negative effects are the same. Praying for your family.