Thanksgiving isn't a holiday that is celebrated in Russia, though I'm American, I don't celebrate it either. While it is undeniably a time for family gatherings and feasts, it is also a holiday that has its roots in the oppression and violence against Indigenous people. For me, it is a reminder of my own personal trauma – that I don't have a family to celebrate with. To cope with this feeling of loneliness and pain, I turned to food, and gained some weight (though only in the butt, so it's all good!)
I dream of my siblings and myself meeting at my mom's house to eat, laugh, and love on each other. The dream consumes me at night and leaves me feeling sad when I'm awake. And this vibe will persist until after New Years. It's an inevitable hell that Ive learned to endure every year.
The first year of escaping the cult, that first holiday alone crippled emotionally and mentally. Being fresh out the cult, I didnt know who to turn to for help, nor how to seek it. That Thanksgiving night, I had a Golden Girls series marathon and wine. I know it's weird, but i adopted the characters to be my grandmas.( My real grandparents werent apart of the cult, so we werent allowed to see them often). They were exactly how i would imagined my grandmothers would have been. As the storm of Thanksgiving subsided that day, I felt proud of myself for not falling into a deep depression. I had survived the evening. The next day I went to the grocery store. It was PACKED. Families were out and about, enjoying Black Friday shopping. People smiling, joyous to be spending time with their family. And there I was, alone in the midst of it all. Triggers.
I cried uncontrollably all the way home. I hurried in the house, Iwrapped myself in a blanket and retired to the couch to watch television. I didnt care what i watching, I simply zoned out. Then, a commercial from Charter Peachford hospital cappeared on the screen. It was talking about mental health. "If you dont get help here, get help somewhere.", the commercial said. That statement moved me to drive to their hospital.
"Hi, I keep having horrible dreams. I can't sleep. I need help erasing them or I am going to kill myself." I said to the administrator at the hospital's front desk. At this point, I was no longer crying. I felt a sense of relief knowing that one way the other, the unbearable heartache would end.
"Okay, just take a seat over there. And someone will be with you." She calmly responded, and pointed to the sitting area. I sat down. The place was empt, of course. Everyone was at home enjoying their family. I was the only one waiting for a doctor. A doctor came over, and introduced himself. He took me to his office, and sat across from me, at his desk. We spoke for a few moments.
"These nightmares are memories?" he asked. I nodded my head yes. I asked how much was the medicine to delete them. "Well, theres no medicine to erase them from your memory. But I can help you deal with them better." He obviously didnt understand that another night with my nightmares was not an option. So I thanked him for his time, and I started to leave. "Unfortunately, because you threaten to kill yourself, I cant let you leave the hospital. It's against the law." I slumped back in the chair, and cried hysterically. Cut to today, I now have the mental tools to endure the holidays. But it's hella exhausting.
Have you ever seen the movie A Beautiful Mind ? It's a true story about a Pulitzer prize winner, who suffered from schizophrenia. His disease caused him to see imaginary people everywhere he went. No matter what he did, the imaginary people were always near him. At the end of the movie, his wife asked him if he still saw them. He looked to his left, and spotted them a few feet away. "Yes", he replied.
Thats similar to my situation. The doctors have given me the tools to cope with the nightmares. They have taught me how to not let the nightmares control me, especially during the holidays. Over the years, my coping mechanisms have changed, depending where I am in certain stages of healing.
I still fantasize of a pill that will help me forget about past tribulations that made me want to kill myself. Weed is the closest thing to that fantasy, so far....and Golden Girls.