Anyone else hate opening presents? No… Just me then?
Okay, so hate is a strong word. I feel… anxious… around wrapped gifts that are addressed to me.
But hate is not even a strong enough word to explain how I feel about surprises in general. Each year, around my birthday, I make sure to voice this fact aloud to all those closest to me, ensuring no one gets any crazy ideas about hiding a bunch of people wearing cone-shaped hats in a dark living room to jump out and scare me into cardiac arrest. NOT my idea of a good time.
It’s not that I don’t LIKE presents. Or birthdays. Or cone-shaped hats. I just don’t like the anticipation leading up to it.
When someone hands me a gift-wrapped package, it’s like they’re bestowing me with a tiny box of agonizing uncertainty. I usually make a play at sloowwwllyy untying the decorative bow, not wanting to rough-handle such a delicately-knotted piece of sheer elegance. But really I’m just stalling for time – preparing to fake a giant whoop of appreciation so animated that my other cone-shaped-hat-wearing friends can only assume I’ve just unwrapped the keys to a Ferrari. Not because I’m a filthy stinking liar. I just don’t want to offend anyone who likes me enough to brave the intricate world of bow-tying when they could have just as easily grabbed a cheap bag and some tissue paper and called it a day.
What if the contents of the box are revealed, and it’s something I already own? What if it’s a lumpy sweater that looks like the carcass of a particularly ancient muppet? What if it’s a severed human head? I have no poker face. Bluffing my way out of such a situation would prove tricky, so I overcompensate by pretending like I’m a 13-year-old girl at a Justin Bieber concert. Most of the time it’s unnecessary, but I stick to the routine just in case.
So do you get it now? Why gifts are so terrifying that I literally shake when someone watches me open one? It’s the unknown that I fear. The inability to predict what lies inside, or the effect it will have on my life. I have virtually NO control over the situation, and as most addicts tend to be… I’m a bit of a control freak.
Now… when I was in my earliest stages of recovery and the deepest pit of depression, I felt so hopeless and out of control that I was left cowering under the blankets of my bed, wishing that the karma fairy would come along and sprinkle her magic pixie dust, forever transforming each of my life problems into a giant rainbow. I stopped answering my phone and ignored text messages by concerned loved ones. I had no means of paying my bills, so I just gave up and resigned myself to a life of horrible credit and endless phone calls from collection agencies. I stopped opening my mail. I simply, gave up.
It’s incredibly embarrassing for me to admit all of this. I haven’t really described the full extent of the damage I’ve done to my finances on the blog yet because it’s not exactly something I feel like shouting from the rooftops. But as shameful as it is, I think it’s necessary to share with all of you. Because I’m finally in the early stages of being able to do something about it… and I want to prove to others that it CAN be done. The damage can be repaired. Not erased… but repaired. I say this not from experience, but out of confidence that I have the skills necessary to man up and take responsibility for this shit. Which is a journey that I started just this morning, as I approached the box of unopened mail that I’ve been avoiding for the past week of my packing frenzy.
I seriously considered for a moment just shredding the entire pile without breaking open a single one. Sitting in front of this stack of ominous-looking envelopes, I felt that familiar twinge of panic I so often get when I’m faced with a plethora of unwrapped presents. The thought process was eerily similar too. What’s inside all of these? Court summons? Death threats? A human head?
I threw on my happy face and tore them all open one-by-one in rapid succession, eyes glancing quickly over the dollar amounts before discarding their mangled wrappings onto the floor like the peanut shells at Texas Roadhouse. When I was finished, the scene once again reminded me of the living room of my childhood home on Christmas morning… just after the last present is opened and the carpet is littered with crumpled red paper that sticks to the fuzz of your Holiday socks when you try to step over it. With a few subtle differences, of course.
The ripped paper on my OWN floor is rather plain, boasting no maniacally-grinning elves or dancing snowmen, except for the occasional “Past Due. Open IMMEDIATELY”… which isn’t nearly as festive. Not a single toy or game has been produced from the wreckage. A small stack of papers is all I have to show for my efforts, most of which contain scary words like “delinquent”. THIS is what it would look like if the Grinch really DID steal Christmas. And Easter. And Thanksgiving. And then kidnapped the tooth fairy for good measure.
I guess that makes me Cindy Lou. And that’s not altogether a bad role to assume, I suppose.
Now that all my horrid presents have been opened, I feel an odd sort of release that surprises me. Is the damage extensive? Yeah, it’s pretty bad. Can I devise a plan to go about fixing it? Absolutely. Now that there’s no uncertainty, I can stop prepping myself for the apocalypse I’d convinced myself was awaiting me inside those envelopes. It’s not pretty, but hell… It’s not a human head either.
– Liz –