Choosing to spend Christmas alone to protect myself from emotional abuse

This topic contains 6 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Ayanna Ayanna 2 weeks ago.

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  • #67638
    Profile photo of SunshineRainflower SunshineRainflower 
    Participant

    I was so conflicted in how to spend Christmas this year but I eventually decided to spend it alone rather than with my family. I normally see both immediate family and extended family on at least two days during the Christmas period.

    It feels scary to be alone (well not totally alone, I have an amazing cat who I am so lucky to have and love dearly ๐Ÿ™‚ ) but also like a relief that it will just be me and my cat. It gives me a glimmer of hope for a better future.

    Over the past year I’ve learnt that my family’s behaviour towards me made me a prime target for a domestic abuser. I’ve been in several abusive relationships but only realised last year when the man I was in a relationship was so scary, threatened me and suddenly I realised something wasn’t right, rang the helpline and the police. It was and continues to be very painful healing from that relationship but a double b**w to also have to accept that my family have been emotionally abusive to me since childhood. Like my world fell apart in the space of a year.

    The extended family are full of what I called ‘mockers’ – they love to mock you, tease you and most seem to have an inflated ego. It’s all made out to be ‘just a joke’ but always leaves me feeling rubbish. An example is, the last time I saw them, one of them sort of censored me when I tried to start up a conversation about something, then one of their children mocked me, and when I got fed up of them all I decided to tidy up the children’s toys (despite having no kids myself) and of course then they mocked me and made jokes about me being too old to play with toys etc etc.They are big fans of eye rolling and generally tutting and being disdainful. It all just feels so ‘ugh’ and after years and years of this it’s just not funny, I want to be around people who like me and believe in me and don’t constantly make fun of me. No wonder I’ve always lacked confidence when I’ve been surrounded by people like this my whole life making me feel ‘lesser than.’

    Even worse than them is my brother. He is a Jekyll and Hyde character. I think he’s the main reason abusers seem normal to me. He pretends to be like my best friend one minute, all pally inviting me to things, chatting then suddenly turns on me and cruelly makes fun of me or criticises me (like calling me fat in front of his anorexic girlfriend at the dinner table when I have always just been a normal weight, or mocking my singing during a family game etc etc) or snaps angrily at me, or suddenly goes silent and literally walks out the door and drives away. He could also be aggressive and once squared up to me and threatened me because I’d called him a rude word after he was horrible to me.

    His behaviour always left me feeling so hurt because I always wanted him to like me and us to be friends and I always felt each time that I must have done something for him to behave like that towards me. Not helped by my parents always downplaying and excusing his behaviour. It was only last year, reading about abuse, that I started to see that nothing I can do will stop him from behaving like this.

    He recently wrote me a message acting all faux-magnanimous saying he understood why I hadn’t been in touch, ‘admitted’ he had been ‘unkind’ to me but made excuses about saying how sometimes I misunderstood him and he just needed time for himself. It felt like gaslighting because he downplayed all these years of his cruel emotional abuse. He also conveniently forgot that it was he who had actually angrily shouted at me telling me to never ring him. He shouted at me for crying once when I had depression.

    I’m so done with this. I’ve put up with it for my life so far and it set up a pattern that affected my ability to forge healthy relationships and work. It ruined my self belief, self confidence, self esteem and ability to detect abusers and manipulators.

    Going forward I don’t want the rest of my life to continue with this same dreadful pattern. I need to be around people who like me, love me and treat me with respect and kindness. I know it’s never going to come from my family. They just seem incapable of having any insight into their behaviour. Fundamentally they don’t see anything wrong with how they treat me so they are never going to change.

    I’m a bit worried I’ll go into a mourning period and get very depressed over Christmas. It would be good to know others will be around on here at Christmas to chat in case.

  • #67645
    Profile photo of Tiffany Tiffany 
    Participant

    This is a really brave descision Sunshinerainflower. There is a real pressure to see family at Christmas, but I saw an excellent meme which said the rules of Christmas were:

    1. Do not go into debt to show people how much you love them.
    2. Do not go home if it damages your mental health.
    3. If anyone comments on your weight, eat them.

    Of course it’s partly getting shared for the supposed comedy of the last line, but to my mind they are pretty important rules, especially one and two, although in my mind rule three is “do not comment on people’s weight” which is a pretty decent life rule too.

    It really sounds like you are doing the right thing. I hope that you can make some little rituals to make the day your own. I love walking on Christmas day because the roads are so quiet. I also love decorating the house. I often just use some branches from the park as a Christmas tree and decorate it with some fairy lights and homemade decorations. It doesn’t have to be traditional or fancy or expensive. You could copy what they do in Iceland and get a book on Christmas Eve and spend Christmas day reading.

    Something a friend did for me last year, which you could try doing for yourself this year, was to write out inspiring quotes and messages which she put in envelopes for an advent calendar. If you are feeling optimistic at the moment then you could do that now to encourage yourself and remind yourself of your strength and courage if you have blue days later on. Or you could go Germanic and make an advent wreath with the four candles (or possibly simpler, get or make an advent candle). I find lighting candles soothing, so it’s a lovely mindful thing to do in the dark evenings on the run up to Christmas.

    Hope this is helpful. You can of course entirely ignore the fact it is Christmas and do your own thing as though it was a normal day.

    Whatever you chose I hope that you have a happy and peaceful Christmas.

    Love Tiffany

  • #67647
    Profile photo of Iwantmeback Iwantmeback 
    Participant

    Hello sunshinerainflower, i think many of us will be on over Christmas and on Christmas day itself. You sound as if you’ve been doing a huge amount of soul searching. It’s so brave of you to write what you’ve realised but i find that by being honest with ourselves it helps others see their lives through the eyes of others going through the same or similar relationships. So thank you for posting your personal research๐Ÿ’œ i have found the men in our family are definately mockers too, one was grooming me sexually, he never raped me but that was just because the situation was prevented, not that anyone realised it had been averted.
    You live the rest of your life your way love, don’t let family make it any more harder than what it has been. I think we get to a certain age and we start to think a bit deeper than before, and come to a natural conclusion which includes f..k you๐Ÿ™‚.
    Thinking of you

    IWMB ๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ’•

  • #67711
    Profile photo of SunshineRainflower SunshineRainflower 
    Participant

    Thank you Tiffany and Iwantmeback ๐Ÿ™‚

    Tiffany I really like your Christmas ideas, especially the one about creating an advent calendar of inspiring quotes. I think I will try it, thanks. I realised recently that it would help a lot to create my own Christmas with my own traditions rather than continue with the bittersweet family Christmas which always made me feel a mixture of excitement, hope and then usually later disappointment and sadness. For many years I spent weeks creating and putting up decorations and one year I made a beautiful dinner only for some of them to walk out half an hour before it was due to be served, turning up hours later when it was cold acting like it was no big deal when they would have been livid if I’d done that to them. I cried for hours that day and ate my dinner alone in my room and they just shrugged their shoulders and mumbled an unconvincing apology.

    Last year I bought a tree for my new place and decorated it. In my mind I expected my parents and brother to visit and see the tree, probably my auntie and several friends. It quite shocking and sad that by the time I took the tree down in January, only me and my parents had seen it – I’d had no other visitors for the entire Christmas period. All of my old friends, who I’d only just reconnected with earlier in the year, suddenly going silent on me. All of them contacted me months later in the Spring acting as if nothing had happened which felt like gaslighting. I don’t know why they couldn’t have just texted ‘Happy Christmas’ or ‘Happy New Year’ and asked if I was settled into my new place. It felt really disorientating and lonely.

    Another friend was ‘too busy’ to come round and when she finally came round in January she was all disapproving and tutting about pretty all of my life choices and when she left I knew I just had to end that friendship too.

    So this year I know it’s finally time to let go of all that hope I always have year after year that my friends and family will treat me with love, kindness and respect in including at Christmas and start forging my own path. I haven’t seen any of those old ‘friends’ in months and this time it’s been me not returning their messages. I know if I contact them they’ll reel me back in just to hurt me again, as always. It feels a lot more peaceful without so many unpredictable Jekyll and Hyde characters in my life.

    My first change this year is that I’ve bought a lovely much smaller artificial tree which will just be for me and my cat. I’ll put up a few decorations but much less than usual. And I won’t be expecting one visitor, so if anyone turns up it will be a surprise, but not something I will be pinning my hopes on. I guess it’s all about realising that my own happiness comes from within and I will no longer be dependent on others to make me feel loved and happy. I’m not no contact with my family and still have hope that at least my mother can be more consistent and less controlling. I am moving forward with these new boundaries.

    Iwantmeback I’m sorry to hear what you experienced from your family, that is awful. Do you have to spend any time with those family members this year? I’m glad me sharing my situation is helpful to others. I think a lot of us have experienced the same sorts of dynamics since they all tend to fit that same pattern. You’re right, life is so short and none of us should be putting off leading happy lives. It occurred to me today that I’m still very young in relative terms and still have lots of things I’d like to do in life, and I want to give myself the best chance of leading a life that is true to myself rather than just staying stuck in this very sad, painful pattern I’ve been in with these people for years.

  • #67759
    Profile photo of Iwantmeback Iwantmeback 
    Participant

    Hi Sunshinerainflower, no i dont see him at all. Did once years ago and he actually apologised and owned what he did. It allowed me to forgive, but i can’t forget.
    Not much family left now really, end of days waiting on a few. Want to be really selfish and move away but know I’d feel guilty doing that too๐Ÿ˜” (Detail removed by moderator).ย 
    Hope you set up your own traditions for Christmas. ๐Ÿ’œ

    IWMB ๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ’•

  • #67928
    Profile photo of the-raven the-raven 
    Participant

    This will probably be my first christmas on my own this year. I’m almost certain that me moving out of the family home will “ruin christmas” but I’ve reached breaking point and I don’t want to put up with my mum’s emotional abuse anymore. I’ve never liked christmas as it is, it reminds me of all the nasty arguments my parents had, the stress, the yelling, and the general feeling of anguish and uncertainty that every year brought us as kids. I’m fed up of forcing myself to be happy in an unhappy environment just because of a certain date.
    Don’t force yourself to spend time with anyone (particularly those you don’t get on with or are abusive) simply because society expects it, just make yourself happy, that’s my thinking. Sunshine, I’m sure you’ll have a peaceful, happier christmas with your little kitty than you’d ever have with family. We’ll be here for chit chats too!

  • #67958
    Profile photo of Ayanna Ayanna 
    Participant

    SunshineRainflower, this is a great decision.
    Make these days extreme self care days.
    Buy nice bath ingredients and skin care, hair care, put on your favorite music, watch movies and eat nice food.

    I have no more friends, because I am unable to deal with people acting like spoiled princesses, being unreliable and complicated.

    Stand up to your brother and the rest of the family.
    You do not need them. You are fully able to live and enjoy your live without this abusive family. Show it to them!

    I am fierce with my family and in the meantime they are aware that I do not take any bullsh.. from them any more. They have become very careful with me and some of them actually seek to contact me whilst I keep my distance and emphasize my strict boundaries.

    I feel better about myself since I do not allow them to abuse me in any way and I have a feeling they respect me now.
    This took several years though, but it was worth it.

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