I have heard all of my life that the holidays are hard for a lot of folks out there. I never imagined that I would be one of those folks.
The holidays are still magical, but there’s a part of me that wishes they didn’t exist… that the span of twenty-four hours we call Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. could just be another day.
The focus on family makes the holidays tough. I don’t have a family. I have extended family who I spend lots of time with & I am SO incredibly blessed to have them! Seventeen years of my twenty-four year life have been spent without both of my parents present with my sister & I at family holiday gatherings. Reality now is that I don’t see either parents during the holidays. I might receive a text from them on Christmas, saying, “Merry Christmas. I love you.” Let’s be real, though, texting is impersonal & words don’t mean a thing if actions don’t follow suit.
It just STINKS!
Thanksgiving is this week & I’ve struggled… I’ve been in the dark depths of an underground cave, cold, in a cage, afraid. So maybe struggled is not the right word to use here. I spent most of Monday in that cage, a battle between feelings & thoughts. I went to therapy that evening. (Weeks ago, I knew that I would get to this place, so I thoughtfully scheduled an appointment for this week, preparing for the battle ahead of time.) I talked with my therapist about the reactions I experience when being in close proximity to my dad & his wife. She said it was Post-Traumatic-esque, like I was coming into contact with an attacker. Suddenly, a magnifying glass was held up in front of my mind’s eye as flashbacks rushed through my mind… flashbacks of being raged at, tears streaming down my face, my dad sitting there silently, being wrongfully accused & verbally abused… Emotional rape is the shortened version.
Fear flooded every corner & curve of me. I couldn’t go to Thanksgiving. I couldn’t expose myself to the person who has caused so much pain & destruction & I couldn’t bear to look at the man who let that happen to me. I just couldn’t. I’ve been told numerous times to not let them control my life. It may seem that my decision to not go to my family’s Thanksgiving lunch is giving them the power. I decided, though, that I was going to take care of myself first before anything or anyone else this holiday season.
I had supper with my family (two aunts, an uncle & my grandmother) last night. I hadn’t had supper with the family in a few days, which is abnormal. It was a sweet time of fellowship & laughter with people who love me. I missed it & I didn’t realize it until I was sitting there. I craved family fellowship & felt better about the possibility of going to Thanksgiving. Later, I had a conversation that further confirmed my feeling like I wanted to go to Thanksgiving. I was reminded of how much reparation has taken place in the past year with my extended family & how that will have an impact on the holidays this year. I needed that reminder & the Lord sent it when He knew I would be more receptive to it.
I have a confession to make in all of this… I’ve been slack about reading the Bible everyday these past few weeks. This morning, I felt the motivation/urge to pick up my Bible & do the next portion of Psalms listed in the devotion I’ve also been putting off. The Scripture to read was the last half of Psalms 10. The last two verses say this:
17 Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless.
Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them.
18 You will bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed,
so mere people can no longer terrify them.
I prayed yesterday that the Lord would show Himself to me in a new way this week. Twenty-four hours later… here He is! So mere people can no longer terrify them! WHAT? I had no clue when my alarm went off at 6:05 this morning that the Lord was going to meet & speak to me in such a personal way just minutes later!
So, to wrap this up, I am going to brave Thanksgiving. I am going to push past the limits of my anxiety & fear. I am going to embrace this holiday season, even when it hurts.