Happy Holidays. Regardless of whether or not you are celebrating Christmas, I hope that you’re enjoying this season, surrounded by people who believe in you, love you and remind you on an ongoing basis of your inherent worth. I pray for comfort and peace, and for healing and restoration, as the holiday season isn’t always a time of joy and cheer.
For many, it’s a reminder of what happened. It’s a recollection of memories we’d rather leave repressed. It’s a painful, traumatic experience as we are forcibly placed across the dinner table from the people who have knowingly robbed us of the opportunity to sit down and enjoy a “normal” holiday dinner.
If you have experienced sexual abuse from a member of your family, I am deeply sorry. I ache with you, I grieve with you & I weep with you. I do so in solidarity and in understanding. I stand with you because I am with you.
If you were uninvited from your family dinner because you can’t smile at your abuser and pretend it doesn’t nearly kill you to be in the same room as them, you’re not alone. I type this from the spare bedroom of my grandmother’s house, where I sit at 7pm on Christmas Eve, alone, while my extended family eats. A place at the table had previously been reserved for me, every single year. Laughter has been shared, delicious food has been eaten, and amazing times had been had, for many years.
This year, my usual invitation was revoked. The reason I was given is that it’s important that my abuser can smile and enjoy his day, and it would cause him and his family too much distress if I was there, because I tend to ignore him for reasons that are simply beyond their understanding.
So that’s me.
If you were invited to a family gathering of any sort over this holiday season, but you’re anxious, scared, worried, afflicted, or otherwise unsure about the impact that your attendance will have on your mental health, I implore you, please reconsider your presence there.
You are under no obligation to entertain your abuser or other family and friends. You are under only one obligation, and that is to love yourself, and that requires putting yourself & your health first. If this means excusing yourself from the dinner table altogether this year, please recognize this as a legitimate, healthy option.
Whether you are with or without your family or other loved ones over the holidays, please know that you are not alone. Please know that there are so many people on this planet who are desperate to see you live, to see you flourish, to see you live a life that you love. There is help. There is hope.
If you would like to talk about anything at all- about your own story, your family, what you’re having for Christmas dinner, your roommate’s snoring problem, your pet ferret or anything in between- I would love to listen. Please DM me, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below. Get a hold of me in any and every way you possibly can. You aren’t alone. If you’re seeking professional help or would prefer speaking with someone else, here are some resources that may be of assistance:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4-A-CHILD (422-4453)
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (799-7233)
Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network: 1-800-656-HOPE (656-4673)
Crisis Text Line: TEXT “TWLOHA” TO 741-741
You’re loved beyond measure. You’re not what was done to you.