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I had a sadly truncated phone call with a very good friend last night (I’m sorry, I escaped from my misery by going to bed promptly at 9) who mentioned this movie. I saw it once and even then it struck a chord. Holly Hunter visiting her semi-functionally dysfunctional family for Thanksgiving and everything that can go wrong…well, you know.

My parents left yesterday after being here for the week. I don’t get to see them very often—perhaps once or twice a year. My son had been talking non-stop about their visit for months. He was so excited to get off the bus on Monday to find all three of us standing in the driveway awaiting his arrival. He was an angel. For about 3 hours. Then…he turned into some kind of demon spawn for the remainder of the week. At one point I became so frustrated that I thanked him for the behavior that testified to my crappy parenting skills.

I was dealing with a massive sinus infection when they arrived and didn’t get to the doctor until Wednesday for antibiotics. I was also dealing with a massive project-from-hell that still hasn’t gone away and there are no antibiotics for a global health book with different contributing authors for each of the 20 chapters, none of which match in style or content. I spent the majority of the week seeing my folks when they would periodically come into my office to check their own email.

As the week progressed, I sunk deeper and deeper into a major funk. By the time they left I couldn’t stop crying over the utter mess that is my life. Don’t get me wrong, I have much to be thankful for, but I now believe I understand why the suicide rate is the highest at the holidays. You see, this is the first Christmas I have ever spent alone. Not alone alone, because, of course, I have Lucas. But I have always been in a relationship so Christmas morning, no matter how bad things had been or were getting, was a time of love and sharing and joy and laughter. My apartment is already decorated and Christmas music fills the air and what normally lifts my spirits high into the heavens is just making me remember what should be…and isn’t.

Last year at this time, I was engaged to be married. I was planning our wedding. We had a wonderful Christmas with my parents and his. We didn’t have a lot of money for each other but we had fun shopping together for Lucas and his stocking was filled with all manner of old fashioned toys like pick-up sticks and jacks. Lucas woke us up early and we took turns opening presents, the five of us, peaceful and happy.

This year, I sit in my living room of hand-me-downs generously donated after he took his furniture. I look at the lights on the tree and try to imagine what Christmas morning will be like. I miss him beyond words. I love him like no other and completely against the urgings of my friends to learn to love myself so that I will find true love, I desperately want what we had. Well, a slightly different version of what we had, to be really honest. I want to be less pushy and I’d want him to feel less of a need to run away. As it stands, I don’t really know where we stand. We have separate apartments, we have separate lives, he has his own goals to focus on…and I…I focus on him. After all these many months alone, the hole in my heart just seems to enlarge of its own accord. As though some invisible drill bores its way through my soul and forces more and more blood and bile out into my system, encouraging my depression and unhappiness and utter alone-ness.

And that’s the other thing. Alone. My upcoming 45th birthday is kicking me in the ass with steel-toed boots. I have never felt the anguish of turning another year older than I have this year. I am five years from 50 and I should have romantic love in my life. I suppose I do, actually, I mean we acknowledge that we love each other…but the future is so unclear and my hand is devoid of that ring of promise and I will be the first to admit it, I HATE being alone. I want nothing more than to go to bed every night listening to his gentle breathing, his goodnight kiss lingering on my lips, and waking the next morning to badger him into getting up early to go off to breakfast as a family. I loathe the fact that in four days I will be five years from 50 and I am single and see no signs that my status will change. With all that is going on in the world I am spending my days feeling totally sorry for myself and dragging my kid into my pit of despair right along with me.

I realize I can’t rely on anyone else for my happiness. It is unfair of me to ask him to shelve his day-to-day existance just to make me feel loved and wanted again. I don’t know what the future holds but I can keep taking baby steps toward it and see what it will bring. Perhaps 45 will be my best year yet. Perhaps I will see myself published, finally. Perhaps I can turn my financial situation around. Perhaps I can truly spend time embracing my friends and nurturing those relationships instead of trying to force one that isn’t happening. Perhaps he’ll come around. Perhaps not.

In the meantime, my parents and friends need not fear that I am on the verge of hanging myself from the shower curtain. I have too much going for me to waste it. I know that I won’t always feel this down. I will get through this birthday and my son and I will get through this Christmas while I try to live mindfully and focus on his joy in the day rather than the big, pink elephant in the room that was once my fiancé. I will get through it and I will turn my attention to living and to resisting expectation. I will try to be surprised by life. To let it happen and deal with it as it comes. I will strive for personal happiness and yes, my friends, I will learn to love myself and learn to be okay with living alone with me.

In the meantime, I will rent Home for the Holidays and laugh with the knowledge that this too, shall pass and life will go on.

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