Christmas is an odd time of year. I was very lucky to have
lovely family Christmases when I was growing up. The excitement of the wait, the decorations, the tree, the ever increasing open doors on the advent calendar… Even when my mum had to work a couple of times, she still managed to make Christmas for us later in the day.
Fast forward quite a few years and then there was Christmas as a young, single parent. That was when the shine started to go out of the tinsel. I loved the couple of days I stayed with family but then it was back home to a house that was difficult to keep warm and that darkness you can only get from feeling like everyone is all jolly.
Don’t even go there with New Year’s Day! Many, many years of going to bed early only to be woken by WWIII in the form of fireworks. Then there was 2014….
Anyway, Christmas had become an odd mixture of joy and sadness. I think that is the way of things as you get older, more loved ones not being there anymore – some move away and some have died. Then I met my ex husband and everything seemed to sparkle again.
After only two months of dating, he proposed on Christmas Day in front of my family. I was so happy, I was also so relieved to leave the stigma of single parenthood behind. With my sparkly diamond on my ring finger, I felt like I could take on the world.
This lovely cloud floated around for a while. I’m not sure when the rot set in but when we were married in the Spring, I wasn’t as happy as I should have been. Christmassy became a time of worry and stress.
There was the worry over money for presents, the extreme worry over how much he would drink (and that was a lot), the stress of trying to keep up a happy front. This became increasingly hard as family fell out with him and didn’t want him there. I was emotionally torn apart. I now dreaded the start of Autumn when Christmas loomed large wherever I went.
Arguments over how much alcohol he had bought and how most of it had gone before Christmas Day still linger on in my mind. Needless to say, he had to buy more. The time he threw away youngest’s Christmas dinner that I had just put in the blender – she was 8 months old. I told him off and he reduced me to tears. I served our Boxing Day Christmas meal with teary eyes to a silent and miserable table.
I’m doing my best to enjoy Christmas this year. There are triggers and memories with each tradition that I have to face but I am determined that my children will have a happy Christmas.
It breaks my heart when I think of all the women out there right now who are dreading Christmas. To those women who might not be alive to see the new year in or who spend Christmas keeping the tears from flowing like a never ending river….I am with you and I believe you. I’m holding your hand and feeling your pain, your fear. He will use Christmas as an excuse to be extra vile and abusive.
There are helplines out there, people out there who care and want you to be safe. I won’t think any less of you if you can’t make that break this Christmas or any Christmas. Please know that there can be joy and light again though. I hope you will find a way to leave one day and what ever day of the year that happens to be – may it feel like the best Christmas you’ve ever had.