Words can’t describe the how horrible the first Christmas was for me without my children. Even though this was 10 years ago, I remember the stinging pain as if it had occurred yesterday. As I ponder writing about suggestions on strategies to get through this type of event easier, I am left with very little to suggest that is different that the other strategies I have written about before.
What I do know is that it took me years to find happiness during the Christmas holiday season. If you are where I was 10 years ago, please don’t be to hard on yourself. I have concluded there are just some things in my past that are going to take longer to heal than others.
How to Co-Parent with an Abusive Ex
By the time Christmas gets here, I find that all the holiday decorations, advertisements, and my children’s excitement have triggered me to the point that I can’t calm down my racing thoughts. Face it, we can’t even go our local food store without seeing Christmas decorations and reminders hanging all about. This means ever time we do something as necessary as food shopping, we sublimely end up being reminded of painful pieces of our past. As much as I love Christmas music, during those painful years this previously enjoyable past time ended up flooding me with painful reminders. And the children’s excitement to be out of school or their constant asking for presents drains me completely.
The Christmas present scenario was extremely painful for me: here I was scrapping together money to provide thoughtful gifts and inevitably, their dad would find a way to outspend me and give them exactly what they wanted. Pain from this stripped me of every ounce of strength I had to not scream to the children how their dad was buying their love versus my earning it by being with them through all of their lives events.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, as I said earlier please don’t be to hard on yourself. Focus on what the children’s needs are versus what you think needs to be done. I remember crying with my mom when decorating for Christmas when my children were younger because I couldn’t get the garland on the stair railing correct. My mom’s advise was simple: those children won’t notice if you skip the garland this year. They will notice your mood tonight though.
Remember that by the time Christmas actually gets here you have been bombarded by holiday triggers for weeks! Chances are your mind is constantly racing with painful reminders that don’t seem to stop. I continue to struggle with painful memories of Christmas eve; being stuck wrapping or putting together my children’s gifts till way after midnight. Given the build up of painful Christmas eve memories, it took me years to calm my head enough to enjoy Christmas day.
And then there are the dreadful Christmas mornings when we don’t have our children. It is on these days that my world stops and I find myself unable to climb out of bed. Thoughts of my abuser sharing my children’s joy of Christmas morning rip a stinging hole in my gut. When this happens, I know I should be focusing on the painful reasons I am divorced from my abuser. It’s funny though; those painful thoughts are harder for me to remember while struggling with the loneliness of not having my children on Christmas morning.
If you can find the strength, I know attending church services during the holiday season is a positive reminder of the reason for the season. Focusing on the reason for this special holiday does lessen the pain I feel when I become stressed out about my holiday to-do list. But, I also realize how lonely attending church can be.
If you find your world becoming to overwhelming during this holiday season, please reach out to someone who can assist.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline
The National Domestic Violence Hotline
I will increase my prayers for my readers during the days leading up to and following Christmas. Please leave a comment below for specific prayer requests.
Blessings to all,
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.