Christmas is, allegedly, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. But is it for you?
If you are struggling in an abusive relationship, or if you are processing the breakup from an abusive partner, Christmas can feel like the loneliest, saddest time of the year.
Because society and the media propagate a myth of how things are meant to be at Christmas, and your life doesn’t look like that. Nobody is meant to have emotional wounds or scars at Christmas. We are all meant to conform to the fairy tale.
It’s a time to spend money we may not have for presents our loved ones almost surely don’t need, and probably don’t even want.
The pay-off for doing that is the wonderful smiles of gratitude they will give you – the same smiles of gratitude that your loved ones, and especially your loving partner, will lavish on you for the enormous effort you have selflessly expended to create the perfect holiday.
Let’s have a reality check here. Being free of your abusive relationship over the Holiday Season can feel lonely. However, it is a lot less awful than enduring the Most Wonderful Time of the Year with an abusive partner.
Do I even need to tell you?
The holiday season is like a searchlight that highlights on all the cracks and faults in your relationship. You spend the time desperately searching for any shred of proof that the relationship is – or could be - better than you know it to be; while your partner is enraged, beyond all measure, by the seasonal expectation to play Mr Nice Guy.
Combine that with seasonally enforced ‘closeness’, alcohol, and the stress of the holiday season, and you have a time bomb; a time bomb that you simply cannot defuse.
Denial alone will not be enough to save you from the inevitable explosion.
Of course, if you’ve been out of the relationship a little while, this is the time of year when you could start to remember ‘The Good Times’.
If you find yourself doing that, please, please, take a moment to stop and think:
- Which good times?
- How long ago did they happen?
- How often did they occur?
- How did they end?
- Who got the blame for ‘spoiling’ them?
- What did your abusive partner do to make you feel good over the holidays?
- What price did you end up paying for ‘the good times’?
An abusive ex-partner may use the Holiday Season for leverage. Given that he is very good at exploiting your vulnerability, he may use the Holiday Season as a time to get back together with you.
Wouldn’t it be nice if he suddenly reappeared, tail between legs, to tell you he has finally ‘got it’, finally understood what a treasure you are and, from now on, he will be a reformed character, aka The Man of Your Dreams?
Wouldn’t that be the best Christmas present? Ever?
Actually, it wouldn’t. I’ve no wish to rain on your parade, but this is the time of year to exercise extreme caution. The bottom line is this:
Abusive men do not change their spots.
They may need you. They once really liked something about you – something they could feed off. You were really useful to them in lots of ways – maybe you still are. They get their feelings of power and control from putting you down. They may even have their occasional tender moments – they have needs, too, after all.
But your wellbeing is never anywhere near the top of their agenda.
The truth is that it is not on their agenda, at all.
If they don’t care about your distress – and they don’t – then your wellbeing does not even figure on their agenda.
How would you know that your wellbeing really did figure on their agenda?
The short answer is probably this: they would be willing to offer you their consistent, generous help and support so that you could achieve what you really want to achieve, in your own way.
Oh, and they would behaving in a loving manner also. Consistently.
That would be the ultimate giveaway!
But that is not going to happen, is it? Either during the Holiday Season, or at any other time of year.
The worst of it is that he taught you even to stop expecting to be treated in a loving manner.
This Holiday Season there may be many things which you would like, and cannot have. On the other hand, this is the perfect time to start treating yourself in a loving manner.
Not sure how? Find just two things that make you feel good, things that are cheap and cheerful, like a hot bath, filled to the brim with bubbles, or dancing in your bedroom to your favourite music, and make sure that you commit the time to doing them every day over the holiday season.
It doesn’t take much to make you
start to feel better.