Happy families seem to be everywhere during the festive period and pictures of the idyllic family Christmas can trigger feelings of inadequacy for those that have become estranged from their family for whatever reason. Victims of sexual abuse often feel that portrayals of ‘normal’ family life highlights the closeness that they often lack.
Christmas time can be overwhelmingly social. We can live for it or dread it. Society tells us that Christmas is when we sit around the tree passing presents with every member of our family.
The truth is, that many of us for different reasons, don’t have family or close friends to spend Christmas with. This can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation, and only highlights our lack of friends and family which we can often see as a failure on our part.
For some, Christmas is not a time of celebration, but a time we hate. Society tells us that to be alone is sad and there is a societal belief that no one should be alone at Christmas.
When we are alone we are faced with our self and our thoughts. This can be used to your advantage and is the most crucial time to truly ‘Mind Yourself’. Many survivors of sexual abuse may have lost their families due to disclosure. They may feel self-doubt questioning themselves and the choices they made. Memories can be crushing, and everything around seems to act as a trigger. Don’t spend your time being bitter about the way things are instead make plans to change the things you are not happy about.
It is crucial to put a lot of effort into minding yourself at this time of year. Remember regardless of what you may feel about Christmas, it is only one day and it will pass quickly. This alone time can be put to your advantage as their will be no distractions to stop you pampering yourself or finally getting to do something for yourself that you have been putting off.
Tips for Minding Yourself
Loneliness can trigger repressed emotions that can be countered by being mindful. Breathe deeply and truly connect with your inner child. Spoil the child in you by doing something that your child would consider a reward. Write a list of possible rewards you can give yourself prior to Christmas and ensure you have all you need to provide the reward on the day.
Survivors Side by Side is a support group on facebook. They are currently in the process of setting up a buddy system which could support you if you need it on the day. Connect with them and identify the supports available.
Make a list of anyone you feel can truly support you and let them know in advance you may need to connect with them on the day
Writing is a powerful tool and can help purge you of negative thoughts.
- Treat yourself to a gratitude journal and list the things you are grateful for; no one’s life is perfect but we all have things we are grateful for.
- List your achievements you will be amazed when you take the time to note your achievements just how many you come up with and it helps you realise just how you have grown and how much of your past you have worked through
- List three things you have done for other people in the last 24 hours. Don’t look for monumental answers, making someone a cup of tea, listening to someone when they are upset are just some examples. This may help you realise just how much you do for others, the little things are what we all remember and appreciate. It is also helpful in making you realise your own goodness.
Reading can be a powerful tool to take you out of yourself. Reading an inspiring story can transform you and help eliminate negative thoughts.
- Put a nice book aside for over the Christmas period and relax in front of the fire or in bed and enjoy.
Do something nice for yourself that you normally put off
- Have a long soak in the bath.
- Cook yourself a nice meal
- Wrap up warm and go for nice long walk
- Watch a nice movie
There are many organisations that would truly appreciate your help on Christmas day. Helping those less fortunate can put things into perspective for you and hopefully will remind you that things are not so bad
There are many support groups online you can reach out to if you feel the need. Allowing yourself to ask for support is a sign of strength not weakness.
Finally I offer the following quote by A.A. Milne to all those survivors that may doubt themselves
Joyce-December 20th 2017