Thanksgiving has come and gone and Christmas is only a day away. December has always been a bitter-sweet month for me. Actually, the entire holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Years. I don’t fully understand why this is, but I have some theories.
December was always that time of year when I was ultimately forced to choose between my abuser and my family. Ironically, it was also the time of year that he was the happiest and brought the most joy to our marriage. He loved Christmas and I loved being with him at Christmas. But, being with him meant not being with my family, with my traditions, or at home. We grew up in the same area and had a lot in common when it came to the holidays, but his parents had since moved closer to us and that meant not going home to where my family and friends still lived. During the short period of time that both of our families were only a few minutes from each other, it was still a constant battle to spend time with my family and we often ended up spending many more days with his.
Fast forward to the end of our marriage; December 2008. I spent this month in “hiding,” avoiding him at all costs in a hope to survive finals. We argued non-stop, he threatened and then demanded divorce while simultaneously demanding dinner and a decorated home. After finals I packed a bag and flew home, never to return to our marriage. I spent the entire Christmas break depressed, crying, and second guessing my decision to leave, while he called, proclaimed his love for me, and threatened to destroy all I owned on rotating calls.
Now, eight years later, I sit at my parents’ kitchen table writing to you. The holiday season still brings me waves of doubt, fear, and sadness. Although I spent Thanksgiving morning balled up on the couch crying for hours for no reason, I do believe that the sadness is much less than it once was. I find myself having moments of deep emotion for unknown reasons and strings of anxiety that come without warning, followed by anger that I have no control of my emotions and guilt that I am in such a wonderful place in my life.
You see, I have no reason for sadness, anxiety, or guilt in my life. I am happier than I can ever remember being as an adult. I’m surrounded by love, am more at peace with who I am, and am moving forward with dreams that are 100% focused on my path – not anyone else’s. And yet, I find myself reliving feelings of years ago without warning. Yet, through all of it, I’m also beginning to believe that I’m taking on other’s sadness and fear.
I read your posts on Facebook, I see you on the street, I notice your frustration and stress as you shop, and I see the sadness in your eyes. My heart breaks for those who feel lost and are alone; for those who are in a dark place. I see your hurt and I remember mine. I know what you are feeling and the deepness of your sadness fills me as if it were my own.
But I also know that you will persevere. You will come out of this time, but you must allow yourself the chance to find happiness and peace. You will find yourself surrounded in love, but you must love yourself first. You will find joy in your life, in December, in the holidays, and in your new year…but you must allow the joy in.
This time of year is hard for many; a reminder of all they have lost. I hope that you will focus on all that you have and grow. Grow into the beautiful life you are meant to have and enjoy.
I wish you peace and love this holiday season and I look forward to growing with you in 2017.