Not just for Christmas
Here in the UK we’re frequently reminded, at this time of year, that “A Dog Is Not Just For Christmas”. True enough, decent, responsible people don’t buy a dog just for Christmas.
However, the fact that we are constantly reminded that a dog is for life suggests that a lot of people must be very short-sighted, and easily swayed by emotion.
What has that to do with emotional abuse recovery?
Simple really: an emotionally abusive relationship is not for Christmas. Still less for life.
An abusive partner is not for Christmas – or for life.
An abusive partner isn’t For Christmas” either. Let alone for life.
At this time of year, the temptation to play Happy Families and Happy Relationships is almost overwhelming. So, it’s really important to know that the choices you make now are not just for Christmas. Choices you make now will affect the whole year ahead, and may well impact on future years as well.
An abusive ex-partner may rear his head again, for Christmas, with tales of being a reformed character, and Fresh Starts, and all the usual clichés (all to be found in the Christmas section of “The Abusive Man’s Hymn Sheet”, p.49-52). Chances are, he has spent some time practising his best lines. So, they may sound sweet to your ears.
But are they true?
What makes the best con men utterly convincing? Is it that they totally believe whatever they happen to be saying at the time when they say it? Or is it that they are just extremely good at noticing and storing what matters to you so they can come out with it, with a straight face, when that serves their best interests?
In the end, there’s no more point worrying about that than there is agonizing over whether an abusive man does what he does deliberately.
More useful questions include:
- What do abusive men want over Christmas? and
- What are they prepared to do to get it?
What do abusers really want over Christmas
So, what do they really, really want over Christmas?
Is it really you?
Have the Christmas lights, and carols, and Santa Claus suits everywhere triggered new pathways in their hearts and minds?
Do they really, sincerely want to make it the most wonderful Christmas ever for YOU? And are they prepared to do back flips, ‘sleep out in the rain, and trade the world for the good thing they’ve found’? In short, is your emotionally abusive (ex)partner finally having a Percy Sledge moment?
I didn’t think so.
Are you merely their Feel-Good-Factor Provider
Or do they want you to provide the feel-good factor for them at Christmas?
Do they want you to provide all their creature comforts, yet again?
Can they use you to make themselves feel important, and powerful, and… well, lovable?
Can they get a festive high out of seeing themselves at the centre of your world, yet again, and, ultimately, treat you however they please?
That’s heady stuff for an abuser.
You may be thinking ‘love’, ‘happy families’, ‘happy ever after’ and finally getting the validation you deserve. What they fancy is giving themselves a good emotional tonic. They may be dimly aware that they are less than perfect human beings. But being around you -and comparing themselves to you – makes them feel like gods.
What do you think they would be prepared to do to get that high?
- Tell a few lies?
- Make a few glib promises?
- Play Mr Nice Guy for a while.
- Turn over the New Leaf that has a very short shelf-life.
- Take their hand off their heart long enough to buy you something to put you in the Christmas spirit – and their power, all over again?
If you look at it from their point of view, for once, that sounds like a pretty reasonable trade off. Sometimes an abuser just has to speculate a few ounces of charm in return for a ton of convenience…
Christmas is not an easy time to get through.
We’re all familiar with the sentimental hype around Christmas.
And then there’s the commercial stuff…
Underlying the frenzied consumption is the message that Christmas will only be a wonderful time if we deluge loved ones with a mountain of gifts, and stuff our faces with more food in one day than we would normally consume in a month…
And, as if that weren’t bad enough, Christmas makes increased demands and expectations on you. For a lot of people Christmas means being closeted for a mini-eternity with people who either you can’t stand, or who can’t stand you.
And then we wonder at our failure to make the whole thing perfect for the people around us!
The season of relationship breakdown
This is the season of relationship breakdown. And so it should be. A lot of flawed relationships finally crack under the strain of enforced togetherness, and unrealistic expectation.
When bad relationships fall apart, it should always be cause for celebration. Because it leaves the way open for new learnings, new beginnings, and true happiness.
If Christmas is the trigger for the – hopefully, final – breakdown of your abusive relationship, that is a real gift. Even though it may not feel like a gift at the time.
And if you feel swept along by the tide of sentimentality, and goodwill to all men (including abusers) to give him and the relationship one more try, please remember: an abusive man is NOT for life, and definitely shouldn’t even be for Christmas.
But if you do get hooked back into that destructive relationship, even if it’s only for a few weeks, it could throw you off the journey back to happiness and wholeness by years.
As ever you have a choice.
If you so choose, Christmas could be the season where you try your hardest to be jolly – especially if you haven’t felt jolly for a long time.
The problem is: it’s a pitifully short season.
Plan for your future happiness
Or else, you could say, “This is the season when I start to plan for my long term future happiness. Why would I settle for ‘jolly’ a couple of weeks per year, when I can have happiness 52 weeks a year.” (And, trust me, with him out of your life – and out of your head – you CAN.)
So, here’s the thing, that will never happen for as long as you rely on an unpredictable, self-obsessed, unkind abuser to make you happy.
But I guarantee it will happen when you become self-full, and allow yourself to be at the heart of your own world.