I couldn’t even set up Christmas lights outside the house correctly. It didn’t matter how hard I tried, I continuously put the lights either to close together, not close enough, too high, too low, and always not fast enough even though my fingers were frozen. Of course, the knotted-up strains were always my fault for how lazy I was taking down the lights the year prior. Although tempting, walking away with a “you just do it then” clearly wasn’t an option. Instead, year after year I was heavily critiqued during what should have been a fun evening with the kids.
Holiday Triggers Recovery
Honestly, I would have been fine with my abuser just doing the outside decorating however he wanted. Yet, he didn’t seem to give me that option. I guess to him this was a once a year reminder ow how incompetent I was. My abuser knew how much I loved Christmas and during our last few years together he made sure he took every ounce of celebration away from me. I look back at his creativity:
Divorced in May, I thought my first few holidays away from my abuser would be better. Yet, what I wasn’t anticipating was the wave of painful memories as I unpacked the decoration boxes. I’ll be the first to admit I have memory issues yet, I remember the background to every Christmas tree ornament or decoration for the house.
Once again, my abuser was impacting my ability to function and he wasn’t even close by. But really, what was I supposed to do?
I don’t know what the right answer is, but the first two Christmas’ I set up all the decorations. For some reason, I couldn’t let go. Maybe I was subconsciously punishing myself by surrounding myself with painful memories. Maybe I was believing the lie that I was a horrible decorator so I might as well just follow what I had been taught because I definitely couldn’t be creative enough to figure it out on my own.
What I do know is it took until the third Christmas away from my abuser to start donating my decorations to a local charity and removing them from my attic. Talk about painful; in both the material world of losing my decorations but also the emotional side of knowing my abuser took one more thing away from me.
But, looking back, I had to let go. I had to give away anything that enabled my abuser to have power over me; even if the power was a painful memory. I couldn’t focus on the true meaning of the season if I was surrounding myself with unhealthy reminders of my past.
The following year, decorating seemed a lot easier. The grip from my abuser lessened even more. And, with the lessening of my abuser’s grip, the true meaning of the holiday season became my focus.
What grip does your abuser have over you this holiday season?
Hi, I'm Sue
Welcome to my blog! I served twenty-one honorable years on active duty, living a double life of capability and accomplishment in the service while enduring brutality and abusiveness in my twenty-one year oppressive marriage. Today I'm happily married and have three children who are my inspiration and motivation.
My goal is to help combat the lies of abusers with the truth of God. I hope you find my words to be healing and helpful through your own life experiences.
Being separated from my abusive husband didn't make me a domestic violence survivor. It surely didn't release me from the grip of his brainwashing control and the innate power he had on me.
Read the full raw story in my new book, Rock Bottom and Faithless.