The Fiery/Fragile Child – Part II

Not everyone saw the same side of me on Thanksgiving Day this year, because not everyone is perceptive enough to grasp the complexities of being a Fiery/Fragile child. I have one face I show the world (“the best defense is a good offense”), and there is another layer to my personality that I reveal only to my closest confidantes, or those discerning enough to see beyond the veil. Here are two different perspectives of my Thanksgiving this year, one as seen by the masses and the other I generally keep to myself.

Ferocious Tiger1. THE FIERY WARRIOR

Family holidays are an introvert’s worst nightmare. Particularly if you come from a large, loud family. I swear I must be the milkman’s kid.

I had only been at my grandmother’s house for ten minutes when I had to escape to a back room to be still. And quiet. And regain my sanity before re-emerging into the chaos of simultaneous conversations at yelling volume:

“Is the turkey ready?”

“DO THE SWEET POTATOES NEED TO GO IN?”

“Has anyone seen Kevin?”

“Are you going to drink red or white?”

“Here, take this out to the car.”

“HAS ANYONE SEEN KEVIN?!”

To make matters worse, I somehow didn’t prepare myself for the fact that Thanksgiving this year fell one week before my brother’s wedding. And his fiancé is here in town, meeting some of the extended family for the first time. Not good news for someone trying to forget about a certain wedding of her own that got called off earlier this year. Almost every conversation (once we got all the food on the table and everyone settled) was about the wedding. Awesome.

“Are you guys getting excited?” What a dumb question. Why even bother asking this question? Even of the answer was no (which is unlikely), it’s not like either of them would announce that at Thanksgiving dinner.

“Tell me about your bridesmaids! Who did you pick?” Another dumb question. You’ve never met any of the fiancé’s friends, so hearing their names will mean absolutely nothing to you.

“Where are you guys going to be living? Do you have all of your stuff moved in yet? Are you going to get a pet?” Just stop already.

Grumpy Cat ThanksgivingWorse yet, my aunt hung a banner over our Thanksgiving table that said in sparkly lettering, “She Said Yes!” You’re about eight months late to the game. And isn’t today Thanksgiving? I thought I had another week of preparation before I had to start dealing with all of this wedding brouhaha.

What was that post I wrote on Thanksgiving Day? Oh yeah. Being thankful. Bah humbug.

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Fragile Tiger2. THE FRAGILE WOUNDED

I had a slow, quiet morning alone in my apartment this Thanksgiving. I prepared my assigned dish, sweet potato casserole, and put it in the oven to bake before hopping in the shower.

Once in the shower, I allowed myself to cry, happy for my brother and sad for myself at the same time. I prayed in my closest as I picked my outfit for the day. I prayed that I would have the strength I needed to get through the inevitable wedding-centric conversations that would surround me all day long.

I carefully applied my makeup and chose my jewelry, wanting to look nice in front of my fashionable future sister-in-law. Then I drove alone to my grandmother’s house where we’ve had Thanksgiving at 12:00 noon every year for as long as I can remember.

I knocked on the front door, set down my casserole, and had been standing in the kitchen for no more than 30 seconds before the wedding discussions began all around me. It was suffocating, like their words were causing my chest to constrict.

I went in a back room to lie down and give myself a pep talk. “You can do this.”

I made it through the meal, although I didn’t lead the family in prayer as I usually do, and one of my aunts commented multiple times that I was being too quiet.

FemaleWarrior2After Thanksgiving dinner, I went to a back room again to try to gather my strength and center myself. I grew up in a military family where we weren’t allowed to say “I can’t”, and our family motto was “No wimps.” But after nearly an hour of sitting alone in the back room pretending to nap, I admitted defeat. I walked slowly to my grandmother’s kitchen, gathered my dishes, hugged my grandmother goodbye with a soft “thank you” and made my way to the front door.

Only my daddy noticed my quiet movements, and he came over and offered to walk me out. I started crying as soon as we made it outside, and for the first time in twenty years, I said quietly, “I’m sorry, Daddy. I tried. I just can’t today.”

And he hugged me.

Authentically Aurora

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8 thoughts on “The Fiery/Fragile Child – Part II

  1. The introverts nightmare yes. At some points of the day, I try my best to become involved in the conversation and try to be funny. But my family doesn’t understand my very sarcastic sense of humor and then think I take it too far, so I retreat and hope they just move on without me. I just want to fit in, but that would take wanting to do small talk about things I just don’t care about. Sorry about your Thanksgiving. It can be hard when people are talking about weddings and it’s the last thing you want to talk about.

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    • Bitter Ben, when you are not being bitter, you can actually be pretty sweet. I was initially surprised to hear that you are an introvert, but then I remembered that most of the best comedians are in fact introverts who shine on stage but are more reserved 1:1. Then it made sense for you to be an introvert! 🙂

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      • I have facades and defense mechanisms just like everyone else. I hide behind bitterness and humor but there is some good and happy in there too. Just most people don’t know it and that’s fine for me. I’m happy to play a character on my blog to make people laugh and help them feel a little better about not being perfect and feeling like they can complain a little about their lives without feeling like such heels when they see me complaining so much about little things. Plus it helps me cope with a job I don’t exactly love. Thanks for seeing through the facade. Like your friend Bryan says you are pretty perceptive!

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        • “I’m happy to play a character on my blog to make people laugh… plus it helps me cope with a job I don’t exactly love.” We are cut from the same cloth! Thanks for allowing me to see beyond the facade. I think you’re pretty great.

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  2. I am sorry to hear how meeting with your extended family was so stressfull, but I am also happy to read a well written inside description of the curious holiday. Here in Finland we do not have thanksgiving – naturally, as we do not have anything to be thankfull about. We live right in the neighbour of Russia. 😉 Not really, and I have some lovely Russian friends, but you know why that holiday is not celebrated here…

    I have a big extended family and we are all loud (well, in FInnish standards anyway) because of our Carelian ancestry and cultural heritage. However, it is only natural for anyone to become a bit tired of the noise for a while. Even though I consider myself rather social, I still get really tired of people from time to time and seek for solitude, especially if the celebration, or family union takes several days. I can only imagine what it is like when you really are not into big celebrations and gatherings, but your post reminded me of the fact, that I also have relatives like you, who feel awkward about the crowd and that I should maybe be even more considerate of their emotions in such situations. Thank you for that, especially now that the yuletide is coming and we all will propably be gathering (me too, if I can escape my job).

    I really hope your aunt was not being deliberately nasty at you, when she pointed out you were too silent. Perhaps she was only expressing her concern for you? I hope it will be easier for you next year.

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    • Thanks, Rautakyy. Ha – I had not realized you had such a dry sense of humor, but it came through in this post! Your descriptions made me smile. I am thankful to have been able to share with you an introvert’s perspective during the holidays, and I am equally thankful to have gotten more insight into your Finnish culture. I hope you are able to get some time away from your job and enjoy the yuletide.

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  3. Pingback: VOTE!!! Humorous or Heartfelt? | Authentically Aurora

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