So, what happened and how did I manage this orphan stuff? I tried to let my friends know that I felt like an orphan, but no one paid much attention to that description, so I kept silent on the topic and dealt w/ the understanding of the loss by myself.
Friends wanted me to go to their families for Thanksgiving and Christmas…I couldn’t go! Most didn’t understand why I would not go. They would say, “You would rather be alone than to be w/ me and my family?” The answer for 9 years was “yes.” I needed to grieve the loss of traditions, for as long as I needed to…I stopped trying to explain. No one ever understood…except one friend…who didn’t exactly understand for awhile, but allowed me space and time and stopped inviting and asking and finally got it!
That helped tremendously…it allowed me the opportunity to start thinking about what could work…what I could manage…I started to think about if I were a child and became an orphan…what would have happened? What would have been different?….Every adult in my life would have come to my rescue…my friends at school would have still been my friends, even if they didn’t know what to say initially, I would have been taken in by my aunt and uncle…still not my family…they would have loved me to death…still not my family…but they would have helped me w/ my own direction in life…I wouldn’t have thought about traditions because they might not have been so well formed. I would have been involved in my aunt and uncle’s traditions and that would have been how life was because as a child you couldn’t make decisions around things like that.
I began to think that I could enjoy some friend’s traditions, which were not tied to family traditions or involved families. I have friends who have traditions w/ other friends and I began to ease myself into those invitations. This seemed to work because they didn’t involve families and they were not on the particular holiday, like Christmas Eve day rather than Christmas Eve or day. This has become a yearly event now and really works for me.
Oh, I almost forgot…for Christmas and Thanksgiving, I now have my own traditions. I go away w/friends or I invite individuals, who have no place to go or families live too far away, to dinner. It works…these are now my traditions and my family’s traditions are tucked in my memory in a special place for them…they cannot be replaced.