To Hell and Back: Surviving the Holiday War Zone
Sometimes, people ask me how I did it… how I made it through the dark times… and you know what I say? I not every part of me did make it through. When you’ve seen what I have seen, some part of you—the innocent, pure part—dies. I returned much less whole than before. I’ve witnessed things you can’t imagine, sometimes I still dream about it. I can still see the shredded wrapping paper swirling in the air, and most nights I wake up screaming convinced that I’m at home, once again. Think of the worst nightmare you’ve ever had, and then triple the terror you felt, and you still wouldn’t be able to conceive the horrors I’ve seen during my month on the outside. I vividly recall the artificial camaraderie of an extended family who barely knew each other, the careful avoidance of touchy topics, and the debates which were bound to ensue after a few bottles of wine.
It’s a cold world out there, beyond the safe zone of the liberal arts campus. Danger lurks around every corner, so keeping your guard up is essential. I was constantly terrified; I couldn’t let myself slip up, even for an instant. God forbid I voiced the wrong political opinion; familial vultures would pounce in a second and rip me apart (even though I was, of course, entirely right). But neither side would give way, not even an inch, so the war raged on, tearing fathers from sons and sisters from brothers. The holiday season of 2016 will be remembered as one of the most contentious periods in domestic and international history. We were at each other’s throats and angry Facebook posts and tweets flooded the web. Worst of all were the debates about the recent presidential election. Just thinking back makes my pulse quicken and my muscles tense in some phantom confrontation with one of my numerous Trump-supporting relatives… that’s the price I pay for survival.
For now I’ve bought myself some more time… but summer looms over the horizon, and we all must venture out into the dangerous world once again.