Holidays are Scary

by Maureen P
(New York)

Holidays were always scary, and I don't mean Halloween.

I came from a large dysfunctional family. We did family things like go on vacations, eat meals together, go to church and had a lot of parties. Holidays were a scary time because we weren't sure if there would be a holiday or not. Everything depended on how my fathers drunken state was. If he had only a little to drink, we had a great time while out at some place else, but when we got home the fighting started. I would be scared for my mom and brothers. We were suppose to be celebrating a holiday, and it just caused anxiety.

When I was married to my abuser, holidays were worse than my childhood. I pretended that everything was okay, but inside I was always nervous. My abuser would pretend to enjoy a party that we were at but would be drinking a lot. When we were either outside in the street or on the train or even at home, he would accuse me of something and then the beating would start. I would try to reason with my abuser, but when he was in violent mode, no amount of talking would help.

Holidays made me nervous because we would be around other people and in my abuser's demented mind, he would invent something that didn't happen and then take it out on me.

I liked holidays, and my abuser took that away from me. All I think about is my children who could never get through a holiday without their parents fighting. It was much like my childhood. At the time I was doing the best I knew how to raise children. But when I think about it, I was doing exactly what my mother had done. She suffered at the hands of my father. I suffered at the hands of my abuser. My mother did the best she knew how to do raise children, but she raised children who were scared, lonely, shy, unprotected, and had no safety. I struggled since I was a young girl with feeling safe. There was no where I could feel safe. When I grew up and was forced to move out with an infant to live with my abuser, I certainly was not safe.

After leaving my abuser it took many years before I could enjoy holidays. At least I knew when I left a family party, I was going to be okay. It was many years for me to get into the holiday spirit. I have a wonderful husband, and I actually look forward to holidays now. I enjoy the holidays. I'm almost to the point where I feel safe. I trusted too many people who let me down, so that is always in the back of my mind. So with Thanksgiving right around the corner, I am looking forward to a house full of people, and I am actually going to enjoy it. I have this joy because I had the strength to leave my abuser.

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