Jingle Mingle! Dashing through the snow! Reindeer prancing! It’s that wonderful (and exhausting) time of year again.
For Trauma Survivors, the emotional toll of navigating the holiday cheer can be just enough to put us over the edge. While opening gifts around the Christmas tree, you might see some holiday cheer, but it’s probably eggnog induced! Although you may see us smiling outwardly, we’re really raining on the inside.
The raindrop-laden tears contain a mix of shame, blame, and self-loathing as we struggle to understand why our Christmas pasts weren’t the happiest memories or experiences. Often, we trauma survivors are juggling mental images from our abuse, battling the unseen war of trigger management, and simply surviving the holiday vibe while others seem to do so with such ease.
You may have a friend or family member who seems a little “checked out” during holiday gatherings. One of the best things you can do is give him/her some space; sometimes, all we need is to take a walk, disappear for a bit, or sit in our car. Please, just let us be. It’s in being with ourselves in some quiet that we can soon function better.
Re-entry to the holiday cheer may or may not happen, and if it doesn’t, please understand that re-entry isn’t easy for us. Sometimes we need to “plug out” in order to “plug in” just to endure the holiday meal, eggnog, and unwrapping of gifts that brings such a joyful zeal to the tots!
Here’s to smiling outwardly, even on Christmas!
If you’re in need of some trauma recovery insight, connect with us at www.whoopasshealing.com and for your free “Tame your Triggers” blueprint, download it at www.abusehealed.com
We ain’t talkin TURKEY so let’s reverse engineer your TURKEY DAY…
Truth be told, many Sexual Abuse survivors/victims may be in complete overwhelm and have spent days prior to the “thanksgiving meal” doing the mental chatter game. Not only are victims deciding if they should just stay home alone but they’re also juggling the notion of just how long they can last seated at that family table.
If you are one of these survivors doing mental gymnastics, here’s a few self-help, self-empowering tips you can use as you head for the Thanksgiving Table:
Step 1: Ask the host, “Approximately what time will we eat?” Then back into that time frame to arrive closest to “chow time.”
Step 2: Ask the host, “What time would you like me to arrive?” If the host wants you there excessively early, disclose that you’ve allocated a certain time for your thanksgiving day to manage your health & wellness and trying to conserve your energy to be fully present on Thanksgiving. Idol or gap time, is not beneficial for survivors; it’s a potential disaster for unknown festering to rear its’ ugly head.
Step 3: Determine in advance, how long you can tolerate hanging around after the dessert is consumed. Most people prefer up to 1 hour “lingering” after devouring the pumpkin or pecan pie!
Step 4: Offer to help clean-up or tidy-up. Consider adding 15-20 minutes to your personal timeframe for this.
Step 5: Gently announce that you’ll be leaving soon after the pie is eaten as you “don’t want to overstay your welcome!”
Here’s to doing truly remarkable reverse engineering on your Turkey Day!
For more tips to deal with Holiday turmoil, survivor stress and self-healing sexual abuse visit us at www.whoopasshealing.com. If you get triggered during the holidays, grab a free taming trauma triggers blueprint at www.abusehealed.com
There’s a conversation that needs to happen. It’s about creating a world free from violence and abuse towards women and girls.
It’s the one where first, we take a stand and break the silence of whatever shame that binds us and then, we engage in what promotes transformation and healing.
That conversation is happening at the TAKE A STAND online interview series hosted by my friend and colleague, Deborah Kagan. She’s bringing together a powerful group of highly successful people (including me) who have said YES to taking a stand—sharing that we too have experienced domestic violence, sexual assault or rape AND revealing the conscious moments where we chose to create a new experience and become the successful people we now are. All the speakers, like me, want women all over the world to have access to THIS conversation.
Check out all the details and reserve your no cost spot here:
http://bit.ly/1V8TvVh you’ll be thrilled to learn from these 22 gurus!
The aged old question of DO I STAY or DO I GO, is one that Survivors of Sexual Abuse are fretting over during the Holiday Season.
I’ve heard it said that the #1 cause of stress = CHOICES.
With that notion in mind, sexual abuse survivors have a vitally important CHOICE to make; to spend the holiday’s with extended family or not. Note that this choice is a very conflicted choice: do I stay or do I go is a recurring self-dialogue and dance with confusion us survivors of a crime engage in regularly but the dance gets more rigorous as we approach traditional family holidays.
Many vulnerable adults & kids are triggered by spending holidays with their perpetrator. Forced to dine, sleep under his/her roof, and even play flag football with said evil monger, with all that being said, the perp could even hold the position as matriarch or patriarch of said extended family; no wonder why it’s a conflicted choice. In short, holiday time is a natural scenario of putting abused kids & vulnerable adults in an insular, submissive, silent and dis-empowered role.
Here are some useful tips to help decipher and answer, DO I STAY or DO I GO????
DO I STAY? – Engage in the “law of substitution” and substitute doing an activity instead of feeling isolated, lonely and missing out on the family holiday event if you decide to stay home:
Tip #1: Volunteer
- Pick up holiday pies to deliver to veterans, retirement communities or orphanages. This way you are substituting being alone & isolated with being engaged in a beneficial activity. Set this up in advance, so that you have approval to do so & your day is structured & planned accordingly.
Tip #2: Pre-connect with a lifeline
- Pre-select a study buddy, friend, colleague or group.
- Ask them if it’s ok to phone, text or email you through the holiday so as to ward of the “loneliness” in order to stay connected with you. Set a 30 sec time limit for a connection call, connection text or connection emails.
Tip #3: Create new memories or traditions
- Plan to volunteer in the morning, feed the homeless or if you play guitar, entertain hospital patients.
- Eat a special holiday meal out at a pre-determined unique restaurant.
- Do a special activity – go to the theatre, cinemas, bowling, park or beach.
DO I GO? – Here are some useful & practical tips to empower yourself before you head out to the holiday table if you decide to go:
Tip #1: Pre-select and memorize at least 3 Declarations/Mantras/Sayings/Quotes/Sanskrit/Mudras. Repeat it in an undertone or head to the bathroom, turn on the water faucet and say out loud several times.
- Not my monkey, not my circus! (old polish proverb)
- I am worth doing self care today!
- It’s none of my business what others think about me!
- I have enough ‘bandwidth’ to take care of only me today!
- I’m free to leave, without a hullabaloo, at any time!
- I’m empowering myself to determine how long I want to stay here.
- Finger Mudra = saa taa naa maa (Sanskrit) – Truth is my identity!
Do this finger mudra under the dining table – why you ask?
Guru Singh says “Index finger mudra stimulates the brain and imparts knowledge, expands our field of possibilities, and releases us from limitations. Middle finger mudra stimulates the brain and imparts patience, wisdom and purity. Ring finger mudra stimulates the brain and imparts vitality and vigor. Little/pinky finger mudra stimulates the brain and aids clear communication.”
- Or create your own personal empowerment statements.
Tip #2: Envision your surroundings before you go
- Get familiar with your surroundings; especially if you’ve never been to this city or relatives home
- Do Google map search – street view of where you are going.
- Determine how close the nearest park, beach walk or bike path is, in the event you need a self-care break.
- Yelp/Google any other “outside your family” events in the area: skating rink, bowling, theatre cinemas – this is a law of substitution quirky technique to implement if things are getting uncomfortable, suggest one of these additional outings, for yourself &/or guests.
Tip #3: Calculate, decide & pre-determine the Quantity &/or Quality you want during the Holiday – this will help you to stay in control, be in control and not get to over consumption.
- Decide upfront just how many alcohol drinks you’ll consume
- Decide upfront how many slices of pie you’ll gobble down
- Decide before the meal if you want to feel like a food coma set in after you eat the holiday meal
- Decide which food helpings and how your food plate will look like
As a survivor of sexual abuse, getting into inspired action, taking decisive action and making highly beneficial choices can help you survive and stay out of overwhelm during the stressful holiday season. Here’s to making choices that empower you so that you don’t find yourself in HOLIDAY HELL!
To glean more self-care tips visit www.abusehealed.com and www.whoopasshealing.com
While most people have fretted over the perfect pumpkin pie recipe, Survivors of Sexual Abuse (young and old) have been fretting over that age old question: Do I stay or do I go?
Most Sexual Abuse survivors & victims alike have spent the days prior to any major holiday, especially the American Thanksgiving, knee deep in the overwhelm of “should I go be with family” or “should I stay home alone.”
What gets sticky is not the gravy that may still be lingering, but the residual from the dilemma of not sitting down at the proverbial “Thanksgiving table” you know the table that’s embellished with a dry dead bird, gluten stuffing and mashed potatoes that at times resembles the mush in the Sexual Abuse victim mentality.
Other members of the victims’ family of origin aren’t even aware that if a victim did in fact show-up to take a seat at the Thanksgiving table; it has cost them mightily to drag their almost corpselike body there. The mental gymnastics has already taken its toll on the Sexual Abuse victim body; toggling back and forth from “should I stay or should I go,” weighs heavily on a victims mindset.
Have you ever noticed the one relative that seems out of sorts and hasn’t even imbibed on any holiday liquid gold yet? It’s safe to say; they are holding that deep dark secret and ugly shame of abuse.
Once at the holiday meal, many Sexual Abuse victims are still second guessing their decision, “why didn’t I just stay home alone?” The festive meal doesn’t seem so bright; in fact, it has glimpses of dark billowy shadows.
Black Friday has a whole new meaning for victims, when that dark black cloud of Sexual Abuse keeps lingering like the spilled gravy that gets sticky & crackled dry…similar to a worn out mindset. The black is that tattoo-like image that reads “abused” that is indelible, illegible and archival; yet no one seems to notice except the victim.
It’s no wonder a Sexual Abuse victim may be relieved when there’s NO MORE TURKEY but spends a lifetime scraping off the lingering holiday gravy!
Newness of ME by e. h. miller (Copyright 2012)
“What does it cost to be alive?
I’ve been so dormant inside
Dead from the pain in my soul
But still wanting to be whole
To find the newness of ME
I don’t want to look back at her
The swirl of her agony is a blur
Birthing the new girl inside
To find the newness of ME
I’m leaving that old girl behind
I’m finding the new one inside
Emerging from my cocoon of wasted time
To find the newness of ME
Others say; you can’t do that
What about my life; you owe me more of her
Soaring above their demands; I’m lighter than a feather
As I find my own sense of heaven
To find the newness of ME”
Holiday guide to keeping Uncle Rays’ hands off your lil’ girl…
As a young girl, I used to dread the annual proverbial gift exchange at Grandma’s house during the holidays. Why? Because it meant that Uncle Ray was there to greet me with the uncomfortable hug, wet slobbery kisses, traveling hands to my chest and buttocks area, and awkwardly long glances from him as ‘a salivating wolf’ ready to pounce on his prey. It didn’t matter to my divorced Mom, as she probably wasn’t even aware; this was the time she could reconnect with her family, go shopping with her sisters & dump us kids off with cousins we pretended to like; we were there to celebrate Christmas!!!
Here’s a quick guide to reference BEFORE, DURING & AFTER the holidays with your extended family…
- GREETINGS & SALUTATIONS: Some cultures make their kids give hugs & kisses to other adults; it’s a way to show honor & respect to elders. Even if the mother knows or suspects that Uncle Ray is a pervert; she may still send off Lil’ Nancy to sit on Uncle Ray’s lap. If possible, give your child a paper clip that’s opened on one side so she can subtly jab that end into Uncle Ray’s arm or lap if the ‘greeting or goodbye’ lasts too long.
- HUGS & AFFECTION: Keep an eye on your child whenever a distant or too familiar older cousin or Uncle Ray hugs your kid too long. Be right there, almost tethered to your kid. You might even say that little Nancy isn’t feeling all that great after the long car OR airplane ride; she might be coming down with something so it’s best NOT to hug her at all! It’s been my family’s tradition to hug after the presents were opened; so as to thank each ‘giver’ this even meant that Uncle Ray got a hug. Geez, his eyes were dazzling as I approached him to show our appreciation. Yuck!
- UNLOADING & UNPACKING: As you are unloading presents, unpacking suitcases, ask your child to help you but to stay continually by your side. You can tell them that you are checking to see how much they have grown since last year’s Holiday visit to Uncle Ray’s house by measuring their steps/gait along side of yours. You can even make a game out of it. The first one to step on the “cement crack” gets to carry an extra present inside or unload the groceries, so as to deter the child from running ahead of you when your arms are overloaded.
- SHOWERS & BATHS: When your child is bathing, YOU are the only one to be in the bathroom. Make sure there are enough towels for everyone, bring your own towel from home if need be. Why? I’ve actually seen Uncle Ray go into the bathroom to drop off a towel for his own kids and linger in there.
- SLEEPING ARRANGEMENTS: If you don’t rent a hotel room then sleep on an air mattress in the exact room that all the kids are sleeping in. You can tell them it’s to ensure that if there’s an emergency; you want to have immediate access to help all involved. Don’t ever let your kid spend the night at another cousins, aunt/uncle, and step-grandparents house without you there. If your child is asked to do a sleep over, then say ‘it will be fun for ALL of us” to spend the night at a new location. Pack up the air mattress & voila; you can all have a new adventure, but don’t send your kid alone (even if they are FAMILY). Incest has been, is & forever will be around for generations. Don’t sacrifice your kid just to stay in good graces with your extended family.
- CHAPERONE: Chaperone to all outside events; Movie Theater with cousins, bowling, a game of flag football, skating, etc. Tell your kids that you are the official family historian & that you will be taking pictures, video and blogging about your ancestry research & to give to families for generations to come.
- ERRANDS: Don’t allow your child to “run to get some milk” with Uncle Ray. If your kid says they are going to the store, market, mall with Uncle Ray, tell your child that they are needed where you are. Tell your kid that you want them to be able to earn some extra holiday money for the ‘after Xmas’ sales. You are really paying them to stay near you; so give them $1 or $.25 for made-up chores you have for them. Tell your child that you will ALL go to the mall together.
- AFTER THE GIFTS ARE OPENED: When trying out new remote controlled toys & video games, don’t allow Uncle Ray to ‘ASSIST’ the kids with operating their new fangled contraptions. YOU be the one to go outside to watch how fast the new go-kart speeds down the road or YOU be the one to go down to the basement to watch the new video game.
Pay attention to your holiday environment. Just because the smell of cinnamon cider, hot steamed tamales, spiked eggnog and family dinners recalls fond memories for YOU, doesn’t mean that your child carries that same familial fondness. Safeguard your child from the “Uncle Ray’s” of the universe and oh by the way, Happy Holidays!
© by e.h. miller