Christmas, and Families

EMILY JACOB

ReConnected Life

The Christmas/holiday season is approaching, and many of us are going to be spending time with our families….

For some of us, that’s no big deal, and indeed something to look forward to. For others, it’s a time fraught with tension and triggery conversations.

If we’ve disclosed and shared what’s happened with those that are supposed to love us unconditionally, and we’ve had a poor response, then this time of year, with the memories of our childhoods which Christmas-present-giving always stirs up, can be particularly difficult. And especially, if for some, those childhoods, supposedly so innocent, were where the betrayal started. I hope if it was the parental or family unit that caused the abuse, that you are not needing to spend time with them, ever.

For some of us, we haven’t disclosed. But even so, sometimes the conversations around the dinner table, careless throwaway comments, can make us feel so separated and isolated, on the very day we’re supposed to be in the warmth of the family enclave.

For myself, I told my parents. They didn’t ever seem able to process the knowledge, or want to talk about it. When I was very ill with the depression and the PTSD, I was met with confusion as to why I was claiming illness. When I was discharged from the psychiatrist, I remember proudly telling my Mum, and being greeted with “but why were you seeing her anyway?” Even now, with this my business, I count it as a win that Mum managed to call it ‘that rape thing’ and use the word. Dad doesn’t.

I know from many of your comments in the Community that sometimes the parental unit has really let us down with their reactions. Many of you have been told it was your fault, that you were stupid and you deserved it.

I am slowly learning how to forgive my parents for letting me down, for not being the support I needed, for making me feel alone. It’s a process, and I’m not done with it yet, but we are gradually rebuilding our relationship into something new.

The way I see it, it must be quite something to need to process that your child has been violated and hurt so badly, that you couldn’t do anything to protect them. We must remember as well that our parents are products of the culture that questions whether a victim took proper precautions, did anything to encourage the perpetrator, might need to take some of the blame. It remains easier for wider society to believe rape can be avoided than to believe that there are some very dangerous predators out there; of course our parents want to believe that too. I’ve learned that if I have compassion for what they are going through, with this knowledge they didn’t ask to know, then I can be more open to them making mistakes about how they dealt with, and are dealing with it.

Going into the Christmas season of enforced jollity and joy, I encourage you all to practice self-care and remember:

  • What someone says or thinks about you is their stuff; you know your story, you know your truth and they can only make you feel bad if you let them
  • What happened to you was not your fault; you did nothing wrong
  • It is in the past
  • You are enough, you are getting better, there is hope for a better world

All the love xx

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