Thanksgiving is a big deal to my heart, and has been for a long time. It's a family, love, and gratitude focused holiday that I've always adored.
Thanksgiving this year was a bigger deal than I realized.
A year ago at Thanksgiving, I was still married to a man who had gone MIA. I was brokenhearted, on the verge of feeling defeat, feeling a bit like a failure, feeling lonely, feeling anxious, and feeling a bit out of place in my own world.
The children and I were invited to Thanksgiving dinner with our friends and some of their family. I accepted, knowing that my friend knew my heart and emotional state quite well, knowing I would feel safe, and that my children would have fun. Still, I was nervous, not knowing how the others at dinner would approach the fact that he was not with us this time, as he had been months before when we were over for Easter. I was cautiously optimistic that no one would ask a single question or even mention his absence in our lives. The day, as far as I remember, was wonderful, filled with joy and laughter, friends and great food.
But I missed him. I felt like our family was incomplete in some way. I came home that evening, without my kids, I believe, and cried as I realized I went the day without him and made it through. I longed for the vision of life that I had thought we were creating.
I spent a little bit of time over the past few weeks in prayer, trying to prepare myself emotionally and mentally for what this year might be like, whether the children and I were home alone celebrating in solitary fashion, or if we were fortunate enough to be surrounded by people we cherish somewhere. I knew in my heart I would be emotionally and mentally okay if we were going to be celebrating alone, although I hoped we wouldn't be. It wouldn't have been devastating though, like I may have felt it would have last year.
This year, he's still missing, and I am divorced. This year, we were invited to the same family home for Thanksgiving dinner. I've not been feeling well, so I was a bit quiet this year amidst all the hustle and bustle, but I felt at home anyway. My friend still knows me well, and I know her family accepts me and my children for who we are, as we are, how we are, even without him.
When the children and I arrived home tonight, they were all fast asleep in the van, and I sat there for a bit, realizing that it was my first Thanksgiving as a divorced, single mother.
I didn't cry. I didn't even emotionally flinch.
I then realized that I didn't miss him at all today.
This year, he was mentioned. We discussed how the son who used to look so much like him looks less like him this year, and how my other son looks much more like him now. I talked about how some of their mannerisms are very much like their dad. I mused over how my daughter doesn't have close attachments to men, except my friend's husband, my dad, my brother-in-law, and she's somewhat close to a co-worker and her uncles. But she's never felt a relationship with a dad that she would remember, and it affects her, somewhat, I think.
I was even asked by one of the family members if I would ever consider remarriage or having children in the future if "the right guy" came along. I didn't freak out or withdraw really, although I was completely taken aback, I didn't act like it.
I didn't cry.
I didn't miss him. Not like I used to. I mostly miss him on behalf of my kids, and I feel sorry for him missing out on them.
But I didn't hinder me.
It didn't overwhelm me.
It didn't cause me anxiousness or nervousness. I didn't even think about him before going. I didn't sit and wonder if anyone would ask about him or mention him or worry about how I would react if it happened.
That's a lot of healed wounds.
Thank you, Jesus.
If it weren't for the Cleansing Stream retreat less than a month ago, I am sure I would be in a different emotional state tonight.
But I'm okay.
The kids and I are okay.
I don't long for him to love us. I don't feel like we are missing out on his love. I know we are, realistically, but I don't feel that soul-crushing overwhelming longing that was there a year ago.
Because we don't need his love. It would be nice, but it's not a necessity.
We have God's love, first and foremost, and because of His love, we are loved deeply by many others. It's obvious to me that we are loved more deeply by others in our lives than we could be by him at this point anyway. My children are lacking their dad, but they're not lacking their Father's love; they're not lacking love at all. Today, they were surrounded by love, like they are every day.
Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, to me, are especially important emotional holidays. They flood my heart with appreciation for God, family, friends, love, memories, laughter, and companionship.
For the last 15 years, up until this year, a huge portion of all of those holidays were invested in him- even the last two, when we was sort of here and then not here at all.
This year, that chain is broken.
This year, I see so much more clearly the love that we are showered with. I saw it last year through clouded lenses. This year, it's more real.
I can see so much more clearly this year that I am not alone. I wondered a few days ago, while the enemy was after my mind, that I would be alone eternally, spending holidays without adult cameraderie, huddled up with my children, forgotten by the world, because I was just a pity case or that people were sick of the burden I am, wishing for interaction aside from only children (I know that sounds horrible, and I love my children dearly, so please don't assume I hate spending time with them).
But that's just crazy. I have family, and friends that are family, and friends beyond that who love us so much.
I am not alone. We are not alone. And God wouldn't allow us to go through this life alone anyway. I get reminded of that on the regular. Sometimes, I just get in my own way of seeing it.
Thank you to the many friends and family who have sent me messages of love, empowerment, gratitude, prayer, and blessings. Your love is deeply felt and appreciated more than I find myself able to express at this time.