Christmas is the hardest time
For emotionally abused women Christmas can be the hardest time of year. The hype of Christmas becomes a magnifying glass through which everything that’s not right with their lives is judged – remorselessly.
Of course, that begs the question: by whom is it judged?
Obviously, by those people in their lives who first taught emotionally abused women to feel Not Good Enough.
In other words, the usual suspects: parents, siblings, and partners.
But this is the time of year when the media dive in – to a man.
Even on Planet Zog, birth planet of all emotionally abusive men, the rules of how emotionally abused women should – and don’t – present to the Universe are well-known.
You should be:
- Perfect in every detail
- The ultimate status symbol, in terms of sex appeal, role-model performance (perfect wife, mother, housekeeper, social secretary etc.)
- As unrufflable as Barbie – or a Stepford Wife
- Young – there are no excuses for not being young, especially not chronological age!
- Possessed of a magic wand – all the relationship toxicity created by an emotional abuser should be magically dissipated by you
and so on.
In other words, Christmas is the Most Wonderful Time of Year to feel far worse about the things you already felt bad enough about.
There’s nothing quite like Christmas to trigger all your feelings of failure, and inadequacy.
Whether or not you’re aware of it, it becomes a time for Despair-Searching.
Emotionally abused women do this a lot. They do it as bravely as they can, imagining that they are actually engaged in soul-searching.
Having done the work I’ve done with emotionally abused women for so long, I know that the despair feels like the bed-rock of existence.
But it’s not.
I’m no gardener so, please, cut me some slack, if this isn’t put as well as you could put it. I’ve just moved into a new house. The house itself is well enough built. When it came to the garden, though, the company lost interest. They just turfed over the builders’ – and other – rubble that had built up there over who knows how long. So, the garden is not much use for growing anything in, as it stands. They didn’t remove the rubble, because they weren’t that bothered. If they had, they’d have created a far better environment for growing healthy plants. Sure, it would have needed some topsoil, but that always be found.
Your bad feelings are very like that layer of builders’ rubble in the soil. Beneath that, there is normal, fertile soil.
I know this because I’ve seen it so often in my clients: beneath the brokenness there is a fundamental wholeness. Beneath the fear, there is a courage. Beneath the misery, there is a deep joy. Beneath the dependence on other people’s judgement, there is a profound knowing what’s right for them.
Christmas is a great time for experiencing all your painful feelings on steroids.
Maybe you can’t see beyond them, right now – that’s part of the ‘Magic of Christmas’, which states that there is only one way to be happy. Conventional Christmas happiness involves several generations of unbroken families parked around the Christmas tree, enough food and drink to cause apoplexy, and significant, pointless expense on yet more unnecessary consumer goods.
Make Christmas your season of love
Christmas is, ideally, the season of love.
It’s time for that love to begin at home.
One thing emotionally abused women don’t do is love themselves.
Loving yourself can seem like a tall order when you’ve been through emotional abuse. You might like to think of it as the destination, rather than the means of transport.
Maybe you don’t feel able to love yourself yet. That’s okay. That’s where you are now. Here’s what you can do.
Have yourself a little Christmas Amnesty.
This Christmas, whatever you do or don’t do, choose to accept that it’s good enough: it’s where you are right now.
When you stop fighting and start accepting, change becomes much easier.
So, this Christmas, see if you can put down your weapons of self-criticism, comparison, and judgement.
You’ve worked incredibly hard to stay afloat this year. That’s much bigger than you know.
Nastiness belongs to the denizens of Planet Zog. Don’t you go there. Give yourself the amnesty you deserve this Christmas.
Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.
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