Thanksgiving is the time for family. Regardless of how we feel about holidays we are inundated with the holiday spirit. It’s almost as if you don’t spend time with your family you are in the wrong. Yet if you are survivor of abuse from family members or family friends, you have a difficult choice to make.
Your abuser may be a father, mother, brother, or sister and they may be at the family gathering. Do you want to put yourself in that situation? Will you even be able to enjoy it? Even if your abuser isn’t present. The presence of judgmental or defensive family members could make it a tense situation. If your abuser is someone close to them, they may take the opportunity to defend your abuser. They may attack your character. They may reiterate how they don’t believe you. They may blame you.
What is supposed to be a time for celebration with those we love the most can often be a tense ordeal filled with seething anger and resentment. This is why survivors isolate during the holidays. We aren’t getting together with family, even the one’s we want to see. Thanksgiving and other holidays seem false to us. Their promises feel hollow. You turn on the television and you are hit with commercial after commercial reminding you of everything that the holidays aren’t in your life. Even walking down the street and seeing all the houses with their holiday lights can be overwhelming.
The holiday season pushes many of us to deal with issues we aren’t ready for.
Getting together with family is compelling and when we choose not to we are judged and questioned. We feel outcast. But there’s something you should know. There are millions of survivors out there just like you, feeling the same mixed emotions. We just don’t talk about it.
I am a survivor of abuse and an advocate for others. I have the same choices to make during this time of year and they never are easy. I try to focus on who I really want to see. I focus on who can support me emotionally. The people that know my truth and accept it.
You do have a choice. If it means sharing a turkey dinner with that one true friend who stood by you in tough times then you are truly lucky. If you brave that get together knowing your abuser is there, no one should judge you and the choices you make. If you end up alone on Thursday evening, don’t be so hard on yourself.
Surviving the holidays is about getting through to the other side. Try your best. You and your well-being matter most over any holiday.
If you know a friend or family member who has a difficult time and isolates, give them a call. Your call may be the one that matters most.
We wish you a healthy and supportive Thanksgiving!