Growing up as a kid the holidays were known to be a time for family to come together and celebrate the season, and of course each other. It was “supposed” to be a special time of the year, filled with hope and happiness, where ideally, being “together” was valued highest among all other things. Of course life happens, parents get divorced or separated, relatives and good friends leave this Earth, and the dream is sometimes crushed… often with a lot of pain associated with it. Then one year, sometimes after a lengthy pause, the season becomes special again and we celebrate with great joy. Somewhere during my upbringing, the knowledge of my sexuality threw a new variable into the equation and instead of feeling like I was a part of something, I began to feel alone… even though I was surrounded by people. Not having someone to connect with… someone to share with, while the awareness of couples and family was everywhere, was a bitter pill to swallow. Since most LGBTQ+ people experience some degree of intense isolation and fear during their lifetimes while becoming aware of their sexuality, the holidays can be a nasty reminder of darker times, especially when there’s no one special to call your own.
Thanksgiving is just days away, and although I’m in a happy longterm relationship of almost eight years with my partner Eric, the memories of being gay and single during the holidays are still fresh in my mind. I thought it would be helpful to write about this from my current perspective, not only to let others know they aren’t alone, but to validate that life is constantly evolving. Your relationship situation will most likely change eventually, but even if it doesn’t, we can focus on ways to make the holidays special for person number one… yourself. I’m almost certain that my painful desire to feel unconditionally loved and to “belong” while I was discovering who I was, makes this part of the year extra difficult at times.
“Since most LGBTQ+ people experience some degree of intense isolation and fear during their lifetimes while becoming aware of their sexuality, the holidays can be a nasty reminder of darker times, especially when there’s no one special to call your own.”
I can still remember the first New Years I spent alone after ending a relationship of almost ten years. The year before I was standing on a dance floor alone at Midnight, while my partner tried unsuccessfully to acquire champagne from a bartender. The lines for drinks were super long, and I came to the realization that while his intentions were admirable, he didn’t understand how much his presence by my side meant to me, and that the champagne could have waited until after the stroke of 12. I knew our time together was wrapping up, and the following year I found myself on the couch with my dogs, bringing in 2013 alone.
You might be visualizing this scene as tragic and dark in your head, with light of the television being the only source of illumination in the room, but nothing could have been further from the truth. Every light in the place was on, I had a bottle of champagne with a cheese plate to snack on, and I was treating myself like the king… or queen, I knew I was. I made the conscious choice to celebrate the occasion as an opportunity for new hope, opportunities and abundance, and not to wallow in self defeat. I was loving myself %100 and it felt amazing, and most importantly, empowering.
Now I would be lying if I said I never experienced a dark and lonely holiday, alone in my living room with an empty wine bottle next to me… with the only light in the room coming from the television, because I have. So I get it, I know what despair feels like… all too well. But we can also choose not to let it overpower us and bring us to our knees… because I have made that choice myself and I speak from experience. Even when things seem utterly hopeless, we can choose actions that don’t reflect what we are feeling inside, as a way to keep us afloat. This applies to any holiday you may be dreading… make the choice to do something contrary to your emotions, no matter how hard it may seem.
While I’m hoping the person reading this never has to go at the holidays alone, if you are, know that others have walked this path before… more than once. As dark as things may be, as painful as they may feel, times will eventually get better and you’ll experience joy again. Nothing in life is permanent, the Universe sees to it that everything is constantly in motion. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you, just because you can’t see the light at the end of the dark tunnel, it doesn’t mean it’s not there. If at all possible, summon up the strength to throw yourself a gala of one, or at the very least, draw courage from happiness you will most certainly enjoy in the not so distant future.