I retreat to the bedroom. Or I sit in the corner, staring down at a book. I hear them telling stories in the next room. The comfortable small talk is deafening. It's not that I don't feel included, but that I have no interest in joining in. Oh, I can manage, for a time. I even enjoy it in small doses. But these holidays and weekend trips... all of this focused family time --
I am overwhelmed.
Unconditional love. Love without end. Irrevocable. Assured. Unequivocal. Indisputable.
That such a thing exists is staggering.
I have always experienced love with qualifiers. With doubt. Love that has been offered like a reward and then retracted when I no longer fit the definition of perfect.
I cannot sense unconditional love, and so it is certain that I cannot give it. Though my brain understands, my heart simply doesn't comprehend. It's being asked to describe the flavor of something it has never tasted.
The family that made me is disparate and shallow. Absolutely counterfeit, pawning "unconditional love" for a penny.
This perennial melancholy is imperceptible to them because I have pretty eyes.