Why I Chose to Spend Thanksgiving Alone
Thanksgiving, a holiday for family, food and letting everyone on social media know what you're thankful for. We get together and stuff our faces without shame while surrounded by family, friends and maybe even some that we aren't too fond of, but we put up with in the spirit of the holidays. It has always been one of my favorite days of the year. I mean...I adore food and feeding people so it's kind of my jam, but this year I decided to mix it up, much to the chagrin of some well meaning people in my life. I decided to spend Thanksgiving alone. Yes...I decided. I chose to. Why in god's name would I do such a thing you ask? Well..you wouldn't be the only one to ask that question.
As you may or may not know, I have recently done a dramatic pivot in my life and I am really taking some time to work on loving myself genuinely and fiercely. This year, my son was spending Thanksgiving with his Dad, which left me with several options of friends and family to spend the day with, and as I considered all of them I couldn't shake the feeling that maybe I was supposed to just spend the day with myself. For me, this is really unheard of because anyone that knows me knows that I live for this holiday, but that is exactly why I felt a need to do something totally different. Stepping outside of my comfort zone and doing things that push me to face myself and own the good and the bad has become something I am obsessed with lately. In the moment it is hard, often painful and I have to force myself to really see things for what they are and not make excuses. I have to recognize the stories and lies I tell myself and face them, but the result is knowing myself better and loving myself better. The result is that I don't underestimate myself as much and I am beginning to be my own biggest fan. I knew the choice to spend the holiday alone would be difficult and uncomfortable, but could be well worth it. I knew that my mindset would have to be right to really make the most of the day and I would have to get real with myself about my feelings of being alone on a holiday, but I decided to do it anyway and to get excited about it.
Some people felt sorry for me and kept inviting me to their Thanksgiving (out of love of course). Some people envied me for having alone time with no obligations. Some people thought I was selfish for not spending time with others, but I released myself from giving a crap about what anyone thought of my decision (with love of course). I still made food. I just did it for other people's meals and dropped it off on Wednesday. I ran a 5k in the morning, something I had never done. I spent the day meditating on my blessings. I wrote letters to people that I needed to thank. I read, journaled, thanked my pain for bringing me to this point in life, made my favorite homemade pasta and watched the final episode of Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown (something I had been avoiding) and cried a little. It was a glorious day of growth, gratefulness for others and and self love as well as facing some of those deeper emotions of being alone on a holiday, silence and facing the fact that I absolutely have a choice in whether or not to be lonely or not. I had spent the previous 12+ years of Thanksgivings taking care of other people, and loving it, but for this year I was taking care of myself and absolving myself of any guilt about it. For me it was very powerful.
Something that I have discovered is that when you are hurt, especially when the hurt runs deep. There is a figurative hole in your heart. It's only natural to want to fill that hole. We may fill it with food, with a new hobby, with a person, with our children or a great many other things, but there is still a hole there, it just has a temporary fill. Instead, I have decided to be very careful not to fill that hole, but to feel it instead and to work to help it heal itself. It will take longer that is for sure, but in the long run, isn't that what we all want; just to be whole again? I don't want a heart with a filled hole...I want a whole heart. Glennon Doyle once said, "When pain knocks at your door-wise ones breathe deep and say: 'Come in. Sit down with me. And don't leave until you've taught me what I need to know.'" Putting myself in situations where I am stripping down all of the expectations of who I "should be" or who I'm expected to be, forces me to face who I actually am. To be honest with myself and to make decisions about who I want to be without outside pressure, to face any pain and let it teach me.
Self respect starts with self for a reason. We won't find it in others. Self love and taking time for yourself is never wrong. Taking time to heal in whatever way you need is never wrong. It is never selfish, in fact, quite the opposite. Remember that only when you are loving yourself completely you can love others completely. When you are at your best you can help others be at their best. When you fill your soul it overflows to the people closest to you. Napoleon Hill so wisely said, "If we do not conquer self, we will be conquered by self." Take time for you, no matter how little, no matter when, no matter what anyone thinks. You are your own best friend or your own worst enemy...the choice is yours. Most of all, remember that this is your journey. Just like the race I ran Thanksgiving morning where there were walkers, run/walkers, sprinters pushing their way to the front and the steady pacers, but all were conquering the same course. We all did it in our own way and no one way was right or wrong. This is your journey, your race. Don't let anyone make you feel guilty for how you run it. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, be proud of yourself and enjoy the journey.