The title above can be enough to raise the hackles in some people, however, before I am burned at the stake, please read on.
This piece is meant to inject a little “HO, HO, HO” into the “Bah Humbug” spirits of everyone who is suffering this Christmas.
It is NOT to tell you your feelings aren’t valid.
Rather, its sole purpose is to challenge you to rethink what you want to do with a season that comes once a year, every year, and isn’t going away anytime soon.
I know of the suffering this time of year that many victims of childhood trauma feel because of their unfair and harm filled pasts. Your mind curls up when you hear the Christmas carols begin to play, and you see the trees going up. You sneer at the Norman Rockwell vision of how a family is supposed to feel, all warm and fuzzy towards one another, as they gather around the turkey on Christmas Day.
I understand those feelings all too well, because I once was one of you.
I too was filled with grief, regret, and intense anger. I couldn’t enjoy Christmas because I was too busy spending my time licking my wounds and tell myself that I deserved to feel badly.
But did I?
Yes, I had a right to feel negative because I was so mistreated as a kid.
Yes, I had the right to be angry because my family had been so dysfunctional.
Yes, I had the right to wallow in my pain and sorrow.
These things are normal for the first stages of healing.
Did Feeling Badly Make Up for What Happened?
Did it make up for the mistreatment?
Did it erase the pain?
Did it make the people who hurt me pay for what they had done?
Did it make me happy?
The answers to all those questions is, no.
Anger Grief and Sorrow Had Become Who I Was
All the grief and sorrow that I clung to as an identity, holding it close to my heart like a war medal, was harming only me and holding me back from getting on with my life.
My therapist knew this and kept challenging me to let go of the identity of a hurt person, and become proactive with my life. She slowly planted the seeds of self-love which, when they blossomed, led me out of the prison of self-pity I had erected for myself.
I did not say I have forgotten what happened, nor did I say what I experienced isn’t an important part of who I am. I said I learned to move past the prison bars I had erected for myself.
There Will Never Be Any Apologies
My abusers are dead now, and even when they still lived they were oblivious to the heartache and anger I was experiencing because of what they did.
There was never going to be a day when they got on their knees and begged me to forgive them.
There was never going to be any kind of pay back from them for my suffering either in my past or my present.
The Following Honest Thoughts I am About to Present May Be a Trigger to Make You Very Angry!
What Were the Prizes I Won For Allowing Myself to Feel Horrible? What was the Payoff?
Plain and simple, I felt superior.
I was better than others who had not been abused in childhood.
I deserved to be miserable. It was who I chose to be.
Suffering made me someone special, separated from the rest of the “ordinary” people.
Anger was something I deserved by God, and I was sure as hell going to express it!
The world owed me! How dare they ignore me and what had happened to me! How dare they be happy at Christmas!
The rest of the world should be sad like me, and weep for what had happened to me!
The world owed me! I wanted paid back, and I wanted it now!
Look Honestly Inside
Sound even vaguely familiar? Oh, I don’t expect you to say yes right away. However, I challenge you to look honestly at your emotions and ask yourself if any of those thoughts are in your heart.
How I Got Past The Debilitating Identity of Victim
I got past those emotions, (well, for the most part I’m only human), because I had a therapist who just would not allow me to stay in my little fantasy prison.
One day she pissed me off royally.
After I had been truthful with her about my wallowing in my self-pity, one day she sat back in her chair and quietly said words that changed my life.
“Welcome to the human race, Shirley. Welcome to adulthood.”
When I sat glaring at her in extreme anger, she continued unperturbed.
“When you are ready to come off your pedestal of being better than the rest of us because of what you have been through, you will grow up and find you are now in control of your life. Only you can make yourself happy, or make yourself miserable. The ball is in your court now. You are totally responsible.”
I Was Pissed
I won’t lie, I was blistering mad at her. How dare she belittle what had happened to me! Didn’t I have a right to feel frustrated and angry? What right did she have to challenge my reality?
However, after a few weeks of contemplation, I understood plainly what she was speaking about that cold early December day.
Who Makes Me Miserable Today
No one can make me miserable today, except me. The life I have is mine to do with as I wish. I can live in the mire of the past, full of self-pity, and self-indulgence, or I can move forward and make a lovely future for myself.
One of the things I had to face was my attitude toward Christmas. Accepting Christmas and making it my own was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. No, my family is never going to be a Hollywood or Norman Rockwell vision of loving warmth, and that’s okay.
You know why?
No One Has A Perfect Family!!
No one, and I mean, no one has a perfect family! That is an illusion set up to sell Christmas cards and other products. Even the notorious Norman Rockwell paintings were painted to sell magazines! EVERY family is dysfunctional in some way, and most don’t have nice, warm, perfect Christmas days. Chaos is more the norm as folks rush about trying to make things perfect for themselves and each other instead of just relaxing and enjoying being together.
Why Did I Write This?
I guess the gist of what this article is about is as follows:
If you want to wallow in your past, and the pain you have been going through in your work to get past it, okay. That’s your choice.
However, remember, you have made a choice to do that, no one is forcing you to be there.
This article is to challenge you to try something different.
Life and Christmas are What You Make Them
Christmas, like any other event in life, is what you make it. The ball isn’t in the hands of your abusers now, it is all up to you.
I invite you to make the choice to live and live well. Make new Christmas traditions for yourself and begin to live in the now.
Choose for at least one day, to leave the past and it’s pain in the past. In this way, you laugh in the face of those who harmed you, whether they are dead or alive.
Living well and happily is truly the best revenge.
Merry Christmas my dear friends.
“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.”