It has become a tradition for me to write about surviving the holidays, and believe it or not they are upon us again. Next week is Thanksgiving and then soon Christmas will be upon us. It is already invading our lives. I noticed Wal-Mart had their Christmas section up in October and I have already seen numerous advertisements for Black Friday deals.
This year may hold something different for you because of COVID, or it may be the same. However you spend it take into account these things and take care of yourself.
Holidays are not always happy occasions. For many who endured trauma it involves being with those who are toxic. Depending on when and how long you were sexually assaulted you may be around people who were your abusers which can make you feel powerless, angry, agitated, and overwhelmed emotionally.
Maybe, like me, holidays gave your perpetrators more time to abuse you so you have those memories to contend with as well. (Making them anniversaries of abuse.) Add to it the journey in recovery leaves us alone because it’s hard to be with those of us in deep, emotional pain, and it makes us want to skip them altogether.
So how do we survive the holidays while in recovery?
First, you can set boundaries for yourself.
Don’t put yourself in situations to get triggered. Set up boundaries so topics aren’t brought up to remind you what happened on that day, and that can keep your anxiety at bay.
Avoid being around people who aren’t emotionally healthy for you. This may include your family.
Instead, choose to be with people who won’t shame you for your choices, but will just BE with you on that day. When I say be with you I mean be with you in the present moment, in 2020, creating new memories for your mind and body. Healthy, hopefully, happy times and memories.
Keep in mind these are really man-made holidays. Thanksgiving first, and then Christmas. Though they represent other things they are earthly holidays. Cut to the core of them. On Thanksgiving thank God for His many blessings to you and on Christmas celebrate Jesus’ birthday instead of the Santa, gift giving holiday it’s become. This helps us keep an eternal perspective.
Being with a husband or wife and children and extended family is a worldly view of the holidays. (Life is not a Hallmark movie.) Nowhere in the Bible does God describe celebrating holidays like this. Who we are in Christ and our lives in eternity is what really matters.
Most of all, remember to take care of yourself. Don’t make recovery harder than it has to be by bringing up memories that need to stay there unless you’re in a therapy session. Recognize you will be a little more on edge and give yourself grace for this. Do a little extra exercise or stretching to relieve the stress.
If you need to schedule out your day on the holidays whether you will be with others for part of it or alone. Planning ahead can take some anxiety away. Even planning what to eat will help you have a few treats without overeating which leaves us sluggish, more depressed and fatigued.
Most of all, stay connected to God through prayer because He will get us through and keep us focused on what He has for us.
Many blessings to you this week.
Rewritten and Updated: © 2020 Susan M. Clabaugh. All Rights Reserved.