In a dark and twisted way, Pieces of April is my favorite Thanksgiving movie. Ever. It's a story about a girl and her struggle to build some sort of relationship with her estranged family in a final attempt to make contact by inviting them to her apartment for Thanksgiving dinner. Her and her mother have a vile relationship and she refers to herself as "the first pancake" aka the one you're supposed to throw away. Every time I hear this character say that, I can't help but cry. There are several similar moments scattered throughout this film.
Relationships are hard. Family relationships are even harder. But the hardest relationship that I have ever encountered in my life is the relationship that I have with my mother. She's not dying, and she has never told me that I was worthless or that she's happier without me around, but we [like most mothers and their daughters] have our fair share of "issues". Growing up we were in constant battle, and I remember laying at her feet screaming and crying and spouting out how much I hated her with so much anger that I felt as if my body would explode and shatter into a billion peices. I am "the first pancake" and sometimes I have felt as though I was her experiment... that she learned what worked and didn't with me and saved the best parenting for my younger brother. Sometimes I feel that she favors him, that she tries harder to understand him and in general just likes being around him more. It's a lonely feeling. And in response to these feelings, I tend to isolate myself and put up walls. In the process, I have done a really great job at becoming an outsider to my family members. It's not really something that I'm proud of.
I don't have a relationship with my brother, and to be honest I try to keep my distance from the rest of my family because we have trouble talking to each other and in general, just being together. I can always talk to my dad, he's the exception, but it's my mother that seems to be the ultimate challenge. It's amazing that some one has as much control over my thoughts and feelings as she does. She has the power to make me the happiest or unhappiest person, the power to brighten or ruin my day. And the funny thing is, no matter how many times I tell myself that I never want to see her again -- within weeks I am already talking to her and trying to find a way to spend the holiday's with her. It's difficult. And I know it's confusing for the people around me. It's confusing to me. But there's something there that keeps me coming back to her; something about her that I cannot live without.
Sometimes I feel like I am still attached to her by an imaginary umbilical cord - when the connection isn't there I feel as though I am suffocating, starving. But when we are reconnected, I feel as though survival is possible. I feel almost unstoppable.
For a while I thought that I could find a make-shift family. I surrounded myself with my friends and for a while I had myself believing that this could work, that I was totally okay with cutting myself off from my mom and brother. But something always pulls me back in. I think that no matter what happens in my life, I will always strive for that relationship with my mother. There's a hollow place in my soul that only my family can fill, and I think that this movie reminds me of that. It reminds me that no matter how much pain they may cause, how many hurtful things are said or done, I need my family. I need my mom. And that's the perfect message that I need to be reminded of, especially around the holiday's.