It has been on my heart to write about abuse and the difficulty of living in it during the holidays. However, the right story didn’t really come to me, so I turned to my journals from my abuse years for insight and personal memories.
Sadly, I found that Decembers were blank empty pages. My entries would end several days or weeks before Thanksgiving and pick up again in early January. I had never noticed this, but it was consistent throughout my journals until, after I was living free from abuse.
I would like to tell you and myself, the reason for this was the holidays changed the mood and issues in our home, allowing us to at least spend several blissful weeks being a healthy family. Setting aside the abuse to celebrate Christ’s birth, family and friends, but I know that wasn’t the case. These months tended to be even more dark and difficult than the rest of the year.
Busyness, denial, procrastination, I am racking my brain to remember exactly what my thinking was during those blank pages, but the truth is, I’m not sure I can remember.
Yet, I know those blanks happened for a reason. I know there are others right now who are not journaling their dark days. They are hunkered down inside themselves, just trying to hold it all together. Trying to put on just the right smile and be just the right portrait of perfect, so they can attempt to make the holidays as special as possible for their children. Have the appearance of all is well to their friends and family. Even deluding themselves that the life they are trapped in isn’t really true.
You might be one of those they are trying to convince, if one in four are in abusive relationships, you probably know someone like this.
You might be one who is trying to convince yourself that it will get better.
Holidays are difficult times, but they also hold some of the best opportunities to be in genuine contact with a victim of abuse. Some of the guards come down, there are more opportunities for one on one interaction. My ex would send me away with blessings to a cookie exchange during the holidays, but belittled and guilt me out of having dinner with a friend any other time. Getting together with family and friends is an expectation, the abuser has less control than they do the rest of the year. School programs, church programs, and holiday parties all hold opportunities for expressing the love and concern if you suspect that things aren’t right.
Earlier this year there was a big social media push for placing black dots on your hands to signal that you were in an abusive situation. I personally don’t see that working, I would have never risked doing anything that bold, for fear of being caught. But, I may have been more open to a side conversation at a party or the school play.
Don’t underestimate the seeds of friendship and love that you can plant during this time of the year. ‘Tis the season to look for opportunities.