Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse November 2014 Edition

The theme for this Edition of the Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse is holidays; good childhood memories and difficult childhood memories, coping and grounding and self-soothe and comfort skills from the past, what works now, and what skills you are working at doing, and creating new holiday traditions.

Firstly, thank you so much to all those to submitted for this Edition of the Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse. It was an honor to read and post about your submissions. Secondly, thank you to those of you who visit this Edition and who take the time to read, think, feel, and contemplate the submissions for this Edition.

Our Monthly Theme: Holidays

Memories of Holidays with My Family

Rainbow Gryphon shares extensively and with a high level of awareness and emotions of her experiences as a child and an adult at holiday times (Thanksgiving and Jewish holidays primarily), with dysfunctional family members and without. Her descriptions of the pervasive and oppressive emotional and negative environment were so accurate and detailed. I feel as though I was there. Actually I was, just in another home, with many similar emotionally abusive elements. You have shared and in some way our hearts joined together. Rainbow, what a fascinating piece of writing. Thank you so much for sharing.

Holidays are a Time for Boundaries

April Phelps Downey, from her blog Healing the Broken Parts One Word at a Time, submitted this post. A great post contemplating the issues around boundaries in adult settings with family of origin.

My (Kate’s)  contributions are:

A Thanksgiving Time Memory (An Ugly One)

This post has a trigger warning.

This is an ugly post about child sexual abuse, around Thanksgiving time, when I was eleven years old. I only rarely write these kinds of posts, but this memory is steeped, in my mind, with Thanksgiving time, and irrevocably linked to the holiday. Of course, towards the end of the post, I have to find the redeeming quality, and it is there. Please stay safe if you read this and take care of yourself if triggered.

A Thanksgiving Memory (A Bad One)

This post also covers the Thanksgiving time when I was eleven years old. The bad part of any holiday get-together with my older brothers in attendance would always include huge doses of verbal and emotional abuse. Still I was always able to find value in the variety and abundance of food. Healing from childhood abuse and developing boundaries still doesn’t always guarantee a safe and abuse free holiday environment. I’ve learned that life is an experiment in balance and functionality, especially with family of origin. Okay, bring it on.

A Thanksgiving Memory (A Good One)

This post is one of my favorite Thanksgiving holiday memories; from being eleven years old.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Holiday Coping for Survivors

I wrote this two years ago and really wanted to include it in this month’s Blog Carnival with the holiday theme. I wrote this post after many years of trying to find the right balance, coping and comfort skills to manage holiday seasons with and without my family. I hope that some of my suggestions are helpful and potentially healing.

I’ve also included links to three of my favorite resource pages on my blog, the three that I think relate the most to holidays, all the good and all the bad and how to cope with it all, how to manage your life better, how to use grounding/coping skills, self-soothing/comforting skills, and how to manage your holiday coping better than before and hopefully bringing more life, happiness, and healing to you and into the holiday season:

Holiday Coping

Grounding/Coping Skills

Self-Soothe/Comfort

In addition I am including three links to Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse Editions of the past that cover the holidays. I hope you can take some time and visit them as well.

November/December 2013 of the Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse (hosted at Kate is Rising)

Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse November 2011 Surviving Holidays Edition (hosted at From Tracie)

Mini Carnival: Holiday Survival Tips for Survivors 2009 (hosted at Survivors Can Thrive)

Please don’t forget we are now accepting submissions for the December Edition of the Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse from now until December 17th:

Submissions for December’s Edition

In the News

The Time I Was On TV Talking About Lena Dunham And Child Sexual Abuse

Tracie explains the context behind this television interview:

“I wrote a blog post for The New Agenda about Lena Dunham and the troubling passages in her memoir. That piece led to a television interview.”

It is my hope that everyone takes the opportunity to read Tracie’s excellent and important article and then watch the television interview she did on the issue of Lena Dunham. Excellent job Tracie. I so admire your courage and spunk.

John Grisham Accidentally Let Us Know Exactly What He Thinks About Child Pornography And Those Who Download It

Another one of Tracie’s best posts, in my opinion. Although she does many kinds of posts and many of them are enjoyed greatly by me, her posts on In the News topics on child abuse topics are riveting, in my opinion. I have to say I have told her this in an email, and I wanted to say it here. This woman has a mind and when she writes, she does her research and she is strong, intelligent, and compelling.

As upsetting and potentially triggering as it may be for me to learn about what is going on out there in the wider world, at times, it is an important part of healing and living; to know what the abusers and their allies are doing, saying, and believing. Bravo Tracie on another excellent post.

Survivor Stories

A Beyond Survivor’s Story: Poetic Healer and Spiritual Survival – Part 1

There are two wonderful posts from Dolores Miller; a survivor, a poet, and an activist. I could really relate to her connection to an archangel and giving herself the name Beautiful Warrior. I have a strong connection to my guardian angel as well and go by the nickname Kate@DragonWarrior.

I think that Dolores describes her post best with her first paragraph:

“I began writing poetry as a psychological release. I did not plan to write poetry, or to write at all, but as I was going through therapy to cope with suppressed memories of childhood sexual abuse. It was affecting my adult life and writing became the outlet through which I could best express my raw, often angry, emotions, and it turns out that poetry was the form that best fit my thoughts.”

Great paragraph and a great post. I hope everyone reads this.

A Beyond Survivor’s Story: Poetic Healer and Spiritual Survival – Part 2

Dolores shares more details of her childhood, her emergence of childhood abuse memories in adulthood, her therapy and therapist, and many ways that she worked on healing, especially writing poetry. Thanks so much Dolores for sharing your survivor story and of your courage in healing, in life, and now in activism.

November and December Posting, Blogging, and Blog Carnivalling

I have plans to be blogging a lot in November and December. And more in the new year than I have done this year.

I am glad that I managed to blog more last month, especially in the last half of the month. I really found it helpful and healing to write and post on the topics that I did. I always feel as though posting here on the blog helps me to think, feel, process, and heal on a huge number of topics.

I’m still struggling with writer’s block on a number of topics, but I will just keep writing. It is more difficult to write, but important that I do, even if it is flawed, even if I can’t explain things as well as I would like, even if things are very imperfect. I will continue with the struggle.

With that in mind I offered to host the Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse for November and December. The upcoming holidays have given me a lot of ideas for a central theme for the blog carnival editions.

The theme for each of the months will be holidays; good childhood memories and difficult childhood memories, coping and grounding and self-soothe and comfort skills from the past, what works now, and what skills you are working at doing, and creating new holiday traditions.

I’m planning on writing myself about my own childhood experiences during the holiday season; the good, the bad, and the ugly. The holiday season still manages to bring each of the three types of holiday experiences my way each year. Because my frequently recurring dysfunctional holiday experiences, I wanted to try to make my blog full of the good, suggestions on avoiding the bad, and help and support when the ugly comes along or comes up from the past.

Since World Kindness Day and World Peace Day are November 13th and 17th, please also consider writing a post on kindness or peace as well and submitting them for the Blog Carnvial.  I am going to try to write posts for both days.

If you don’t have a blog or have a private blog you could submit a post directly to me and I can guest post it here on my blog. If you want to write on the holiday theme or any other and want to do a guest post, I can then include you in the Blog Carnival.

Submissions for either month can be done from today until the date of each Edition. Since I am hosting the Blog Carnival here at my blog for both months, you can submit for both months in the next few weeks, before the holiday season gets a hold of us all. You can also write some new posts on the holiday theme ideas or one of the other regular topics.

Submissions Form

November’s deadline will be November 21st and the Edition will be published late that evening.

December’s deadline will be December 17th and the Edition will be published late that evening.

Blog post submissions for the Blog Carnivals in November and December also include: child abuse survivor stories, art and poetry, art therapy, child abuse as a topic in the news media, as well as PTSD, disassociation, areas of aftermath and aftereffects of abuse, therapy, recovery, and healing from abuse, and, all forms of child advocacy and awareness.
Advocacy and Awareness
Aftermath
Healing and Therapy
In the News
Poetry
Survivor Stories
Art Therapy

Here is the link to make submissions:

Submissions Form

Say My Name With Love

I do several grounding exercises each day, well at least I am supposed to do them each day and I manage to do them every day, and I need to say my name three times in a row for each three exercises. I tend to stumble over my name quite a lot and I suppose that is to be expected, it isn’t often that I said my three names together, outside of my grounding work.

I’ve really disliked the halting sound of my voice when trying to do this. About a month ago I decided to say my name with love. That means that I say my name in a loving way and to focus on feeling love for myself nine times a day.  Since I’ve advocated doing small and short exercises in that past, believing that we all need to start with manageable, small, achievable goals, I thought this was a good idea.

Well, what I will say is that it is surprisingly difficult, but I am still doing it each day. When I stumble, I remind myself I love myself, it is just a new skill, each new skill can be hard to do once you start doing it, and that the smooth sound of it might take some time, the loving quality of my voice may take some time, but I do have the loving myself part, and that is a great thing and a great accomplishment. I know for so many years that was way beyond me, and so I am so very proud of myself and happy that when I say my name nine times a day I am feeling love towards myself.

Message Boards, Business Websites & Business Blogs

I wanted to mention this, because it has been coming up fairly often as I am blogging. I do have some articles that I connect through a link on any number of my resource pages. I don’t recommend any of those businesses whether they are non-profits or not, even a few links to therapist websites, though I tend to avoid therapist blogs like the plague, and I would never link to a therapist blog.

Some links are to blogs on a topic of life and some are business blogs that the person uses in order to sell their products. I don’t recommend any of them and the sole purpose of the link is for the article that I directly link to. I am not recommending that you read other articles at the same website. I am just recommending this specific article.

I have several links to articles at a message board, but I don’t recommend the message boards, just the article. Over the years I have been a member of several message boards. I am not going to comment on my blog about specific message boards I have been at. There isn’t a message board, that I am aware of, that I would recommend to anyone, to a survivor or a secondary survivor.

I have several links to articles at a mother-daughter sexual abuse organization, I don’t recommend that website. I don’t recommend the message board there. There isn’t a message board that I would recommend to anyone.  What I am recommending is that the article might be worth reading and nothing else.

There isn’t a message board that I would recommend to anyone. If there was I would state that, this is a safe place to go and be a member in my opinion, if not, you can assume that I don’t recommend them.

If I don’t recommend a message board I believe the best phrase of caution would be let the buyer beware. Cautioning a buyer beware attitude to survivors and secondary survivors is what I believe is the best thing to do, whether it is a good site or safe site or not. I don’t have any specific links to message boards, just to articles posted on their parent sites.

If you think that you are not a purchaser of a message board, even if it is free, you would be wrong. I used to think that free support groups were really free, until I was damaged, used, abused and hurt by members, breaking my ability to trust others and to trust myself to discern a safe person. The same would be true of my experiences at message boards.

There was a message board, run by a woman, for survivors of abuse who have Dissociative Identity Disorder, but I was too damaged at the time to trust others there and it was difficult to post, since I was new and got few responses, which was devastating to me. After being abused and wounded it was difficult to build friendships up again. Unfortunately that board closed down some time ago, when I was still struggling through my issues, or I would highly recommend it.

Please use caution when participating at any message board you choose. I recommend checking out my Resource page where there are 40 pages of resources, non-profit organizations, articles, and healing support for survivors of child sexual abuse, rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, and dealing with the aftermath of child sexual abuse.

I recommend  you look over grounding/coping links and  self-soothe/comfort links and learn some of those techniques as well. I recommend you work on learning and establishing boundaries.

I recommend good and healing thoughts to you all.

This Year in Healing

One thing I’ve noticed over the years of healing from child sexual abuse is that the issues are often the same as in the past, but I often find myself on a different level from year to year. This past year I’ve seen a lot of movement on several issues. There are other issues of healing that I’ve done very little work on this year, but I think there has been progress because of the specific issues that I have purposely been working on. Usually each new year brings a re-assessment of where I am and where I want to go in my life and my healing work.

One lesson that I’ve re-learned strongly this year is one that I’ve learned most years of my life and especially in my healing, if it doesn’t work for you, find something else.There is no shame in that, though often others, their expectations, their judgments, and their words make us feel ashamed and different, unacceptable and unwilling to change and heal.

There are tons of self-help stuff out there, tons of therapists, and tons of therapy techniques and tools. We’ve probably all heard about them. We’ve probably each tried tons of things to get better, handle our daily life, cope, and deal with our past of childhood sexual abuse, the aftermath of abuse, and our present life.

Yes changing and healing are hard, but we need the right tool or tools at the right time. We need to learn the new tool and learn how to use the tool. We need time and practice and patience to work our new tool, until it is a familiar tool and we become comfortable and used to it, until it is a tool we reach for unconsciously when we need it.

From where we are at in our healing often we don’t know what to do, we think of several things that we can try, our therapist or books or friends or others can suggest. We are at one knowledge level and one skill level but others, especially therapists and survivor friends, can be at many other levels and give us of their compassion, advice, knowledge, wisdom, love, and acceptance. Temper what they say with where you are at in your life and healing. They might not know everything about where you are at. You might not know everything about where you are at either. But trust yourself when one thing isn’t working in healing to try other things. This is what I have been trying to do this year. Now I strongly believe in finding the right tools for the right job and making my healing a personal one-of-a-kind personalized healing project.

We aren’t unwilling to change and heal. We just need the right tools at the right time. We need help and acceptance by those who care about us and our healings, friends who love us and envision us as a healer, working on ourselves to change and grow. We can heal even without any of those things, but we come to a place in healing where we know we deserve to have what works best for us, in our life, in our healing, and in our present and future.

I was having a problem recently with my bicycle seat. It wouldn’t stay tightened and would often loosen up, moving around as I was biking. I went through some of my packed boxes and found the tools I needed to tighten up the nut and bolts, but for some reason it needed tightening almost every time I rode it. I thought what I needed was new bolts and went and bought them, replaced them. But what I really needed, I discovered, because that did not fix the problem was a different nut, one that was wider and I needed wider bolts as well. Seriously problem solving this type of stuff is beyond my skill level, but I figured I had to figure it out or pay someone else to do it and that is not what I normally do, if I can avoid it.

So adjusting the bolts did not solve the problem and replacing the bolts did not solve the problem. It looked like the problem, but the problem was something else. This is a lot like what life is like. This is a lot like what healing is like. If you work hard on one area and there is no improvement, it is okay to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Maybe it’s something else, maybe there is another way to approach the problem, maybe there is a work around, maybe you can do things that sort of short circuit the issue and allow you to just do things.

What I have learned last year, 2011, is to discover what I am already connected to, what I want to be connected to, and what I might want to become connected to. Connectedness has become a healing tool in my life this past year. I used to feel untethered. I think that most survivors of child sexual abuse feel untethered. I don’t feel comfortable with grounding or groundedness work, so finally instead I hit on the idea of working on connectedness. When I am upset I find myself thinking of my favorite library, the downtown Minneapolis library. It helps me feel connected to something solid, good, loveable, and caring. Connectedness brought me so much, an awareness that I have a solid core. I didn’t know I had a solid core before, I didn’t know anything about being solid to my core. Doing my connectedness work brought me that awareness recently. It was a huge step in healing for me to find myself with a solid core. This is the core that I was able to work from this last year.

I have sort of devoted this year in healing to be about doing and being. I had huge issues of anxiety and fears that continued to control me and much of my daily life. I didn’t have a lot of healing tools that I was comfortable with and that really helped me with these areas. My work with biking with the doggies gave me lots of opportunities to work on being the pack leader, with no fear, no weak emotion, just feelings of competence and leadership. This is often a moment by moment challenge and still is. However I have found when you find the right tool, it fits comfortably in your hand and your learning process is pleasant as well as challenging.

Doing good things for myself has always been difficult for me, a huge challenge in my life. I didn’t realize that approaching this issue from another angle would help me with these challenges. Sometimes you need to do something different and go in a different direction to get to where you want to go. Healing is like that. Establishing my connectedness and my leadership in my own life have become an excellent platform for diving off of into the waters of doing things and actitivities for myself(ves), my life, and my present and future.

If you can’t get to where you want to go from where you are, I hope you will try new tools. I’ll keep doing that and writing about that process and hoping that you will read and hoping that it will give you some suggestions, or help your mind to give you some suggestions, or help you bring the topic up to others and get some more ideas and tools. Modify, change, learn, grow, accept yourself if something works or it doesn’t, try something else, it is all a part of healing.

My Mother Was an Eating Disorder

Besides being a mother-daughter sexual abuser, my mother was an eating disorder. As a baby she would sometimes  refuse to feed me. She would stop me before I got enough food. 

Later she would give me soured milk in my bottle and then take it away when I wouldn’t drink it and say, you don’t drink it, you get nothing, like it was my choice not to have food. No one else was there to notice or to stop her. I knew. I remembered. My body remembered. I was underweight. I was underweight all my childhood.

As a toddler she would take away my naptime bottle from me and give it to my brother. She would offer me food if I would sit or lay still while she abused me or if I would do whatever she instructed me to do when she was sexually abusing me. I abhorred what she wanted to do to me.

As a pre-schooler she would deprive me of food. Any time there were family members I would get food. I could have breakfast each morning. Whether or not I could keep it in my stomach was another matter.

I hated being touched by her. I hated everything about her body. I hated her with a passion. I remember being three and four years old and being consumed with wanting to beat her to death with my bare hands. She would make me vomit up breakfast if she did not think I was cooperating, or sometimes even when I did everything she asked when she was enraged as revenge against some imagined slight or wound, and then she would refuse to give me lunch. The evening meal was often the only meal that I had.

At times I was so gnawingly starved that I did not fight her. Sometimes I did not have the energy to do it. She was huge and powerful. Or I did not have the will to do it. I was tiny and powerless. Or I did not have the mind focus to hide from her or to avoid her or to become invisible right after all the family members left the house and she would catch me. I was a pre-schooler. I was a little child.

At no time have I ever blamed myself for being sexually abused by my mother, not to me, not to us. Some of us inside our multiple system have blamed and some still do blame themselves for not being loved by her, for not being nurtured and cared for by her, for not being protected and fed by her, and for being physically, emotionally, verbally, and sexually abused by her. She constantly blamed us. It was inevitable that her words would become our own inner critic voice, word for word.

Weekends were good. I had witnesses. I am so thankful to my father and family members for being there. I am thankful to them that they were not keeping food from me and I believe that they would not have cooperated with that if they had known. Everyone expected food. Food was a big part of our family life. It was a joy that we all took part in.

She was the person to dish out the food for each person at our table, for every meal. She controlled food in my life, completely.

I cannot express the joy at getting out of that house and going to school at age five. I could eat three meals a day. I was ecstatic. I wasn’t being raped. I wasn’t being beaten. I wasn’t being starved. It was a safe haven. And I was learning. Knowledge, my new obsession.

As a teenager she tried to make me fat. I was deathly afraid of being fat and cruel like her since I was very tiny. I had gained about twenty pounds around age fourteen as I was developing. I stopped eating treats, started running and doing exercises every evening and she went breserk.

She confronted me alone and threatened me. She said I would eat everything she gave me in my lunchbag or else I would regret it. She was hysterical about it all. I told her I wouldn’t and there would be nothing she could do about it and from now on I wouldn’t give it away to anyone else on the bus for my brothers to see and rat me out to her, so she would never know if I was eating everything or not. It was one of the times that I had answered her back and stood up for myself around food.

I didn’t have an eating disorder. My mother was an eating disorder in my life.

I do have disordered eating, at times, and have a very skewed concept of eating, portions, nutrition, and food preparation. She refused to teach me cooking or baking. She would describe the process in magical terms, always reminding me that I wasn’t good enough or smart enough to do what she did with food. She did that whole pinch of this, a handful of that, to taste sort of cooking. That, she made a huge point to always tell me, was way beyond my capabilities.

Everything about food had become over-shadowed with her and all the ways that she stopped me and abused me and used me around food. Since everything about food was consumed by my parental sexual abuser and with my supposed inadequacies and undeservedness of food, it makes food a very negatively charged topic. And the fact that you have to eat every day, with that heavy load in your mind and heart, to help your body be sustained, it is very hard, a very real challenge, at 2 and 6, and 14 and today.

I realize that I have developed a number of ways to have and work on connectedness. But I do not have a connection to food. And that would seem pretty elementary of a thing for someone to have. I have always been afraid that being more connected to food will make me gain a lot more weight.

Being overweight to begin with fuels my fears. I have to deprive myself so much, because I gain weight easily and due to my health limitations cannot walk much or run at all, which are usually necessary for keeping my weight down. Being starved as a tiny child means that my body is in self-defense mode each time I eat and don’t eat, and it compensates to keep me alive.

It’s very hard to lose weight. I have to deprive myself, but it is sort of necessary in order to lose weight. I hate to do that. It is so much like living with my mother and being abused and starved. It can be so triggering. It feels as though I am abusing myself.

The kinds of abuses my mother did to me around food in the furtherance of her sexually abusing me has made food an integral part of child sexual abuse. It disconnected me from food. It was a way of coping. It was a way of surviving.

It is normal for someone to have a strong connection to food, but we don’t have one.  So starting today, on Mother’s Day, I will start working on establishing my connectedness to food. I am planning on posting more about my weight loss efforts, my small indulgences that glory in food, my continuing efforts to make food, and my gluten-free cooking and gluten-free foods I have tried and hated and tried and loved.

This is all about the abuses my mother perpetrated against me, both sexual and otherwise, and the damage and aftereffects of mother-daughter sexual abuse. I will be striving to make food a central and loving part of my life, one that is loving and life-affirming, one that is healing, one that sings of nurturance and joy, one that allows me to maintain a more healthier weight.

Mother-Daughter Sexual Abuse Resources

Healing from Abuse Resources

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Holiday Coping for Survivors

In Part 1 I shared some of what I have done in the past in the area of holiday coping. I have been preparing for some time for the upcoming holidays. I have been working on my self-esteem, self-care and connectedness issues.

Family gatherings and holidays have always been a challenge to me. It is hard to be an adult around those who have always denigrated, abused, used, and humiliated you when  you were little. It has been for me. No one would care for me or protect me and so I would try to do that on my own.

I have never managed to be an adult in my family, empowered and strong. I have always been the rejected one, the scapegoat to be blamed for everything. I have finally come to a place in my healing where I know who I am.

I am someone who is loved and who has value. I love me and I see value in me. It took being loved and valued by many survivor friends before I could slowly let that reality into my life.  

I do believe that the stronger I feel about myself, the stronger my connection to myself and my soul, and the stronger that I am connected to significant things in my life the better I can take care of and protect myself from others. Even so, a plan is a good thing for coping with family of origin relatives around the holidays. I think it is great to develop your own plan. So here is my plan:

1. Don’t make a plan of things to do for the day.

I used to make a plan of things to do. It would include reading a book and watching certain shows on tape. It usually didn’t get done. And then I would feel inadequate.

Now I try to spend some time alone, just for me, during the day, but aside from that, I don’t have a plan. I might watch a show or movie, read some, talk to friends online, spend some time with others, have a good meal, post on a message board or my blog, listen to music, take a nap, take gentle care of myself.

If plans for the day of the holiday helps or works good for you, great. I really encourage you to do what works for you.

2 Do plan things to do on the days before the holiday.

I start a holiday much sooner than most people. I try to do things for many days that are about the holiday. One thing I did this year was discuss the food we would have at our gathering. I took part in several conversations about the food that was being bought and what I would be bringing.

I bought a couple of squash. I love squash and since it is easy to prepare and I have done it before, I wanted to make something special for myself. I bought Edy’s Pumpkin ice cream, gluten free. It tastes like pumpkin pie and it is wonderful.

For Christmas I start listening to the music and wathing tv specials more than a month in advance of the holiday. Since it is my favorite time of the year I want to pack as much joy into it as possible. I shop for used items and special deals for decorations.

3. Be gentle with yourself.

I have some great shower gel and lotion. They are so nice and smooth. Using them is a nice way for me to be gentle with myself.

Try to do a few things that help calm and relax you. I take a few deep breaths and blow the air out with my teeth together. Taking a small object or talisman with you to family gatherings is a great thing to help remind you who you are and connect you to something else. I used to take a small dollie and put it in my backpack.

A few days before try to figure out a few activities that you would love to do and allow yourself to enjoy the treat.

Exercise is good, but not too much or more than your current physical level can tolerate. Be gentle. Pain isn’t necessary to get the benefits, especially for relaxing your musles and sleeping better. You deserve it.

For a few days after the holiday, be extra gentle. Cut yourself some slack. Try not to blame yourself if things go bad. Try not to let others lay their shame and blame onto you. You did the best you could and that is to be celebrated.

I remember when I was in my early twenties, no one talked about how stressful seeing family was during the holidays and how sad this time of year could be. Now there is a lot of awareness about that out there. We all know how hard it is. Be extra gentle, you deserve it.

4. Reach out to those who are good to you. Allow yourself a method to do so during the holiday.

I have connected to some friends and family this week. They nuture and feed me in my soul. That is something that I like to do. It helps me feel more solid through the holiday.

5. Read some of the suggestions by survivors and others online and make a small list of suggestions for coping and do some of them:

Holiday Coping.

6. Days in advance, make a list of some of your good qualities, remind yourself of them. 

If you don’t know what to write down, look in your comments if you have a blog and what your friends have said to you. Write them down. Keep reminding yourself.

Some of mine are tenacious, courageous, intelligent, compassionate, empathetic. I also have some lovely comments other survivors have written to me. They mean so much and make me feel better each time I read them.

7. Embrace some humor during the holiday week.

I love to watch A Christmas Story. It reminds me that humor is a good thing and that being little can be a time of joy and wonder.

8. Try to get as much sleep as possible the week before the holiday.

I have been taking naps and trying to sleep as much as possible. I never feel as though I get enough sleep, so this is something that I don’t feel I am overdoing.

9. Have an exit strategy. Remind yourself it is okay to leave.

I have given myself permission to leave. I never walked out or asked for a ride or called a cab when I was at a family member’s home.

One holiday last year I just left the room and went to my own bedroom and laid down. It is so much easier when I am in my own homespace to do that. It might seem like such a small thing, but for me, it was huge. I also avoided someone that I did not want to interact with.

If you aren’t going to be in your own space, make an exit plan. Think about a walk outside, a private conversation with a safe person, or just going into the bathroom, locking the door, and staying in there for ten minutes.

10. Remind yourself you don’t owe them anything.

I don’t owe my family anything on holidays. You don’t have to go there and if you do you don’t have to be real and honest and with your feelings with unsafe people and those who are or have been abusive. You can stand back and detach.

It took me decades to get to this place. I tried to stay with my family on holidays and have a good time and be abuse-free. That was not possible. Now I tell myself that this is the second half of my life and I get to spend it with me.

If you are spending holidays with those who have abused and hurt you, know that you can get through it and you can make it out the other side of the holidays stronger and more healed. Once you were little, but even though you may feel little and powerless,  you aren’t. You are an adult and you have the power to take care of your life and to heal.

11. Reflect on what you are connected to and what gives your life meaning.

Here are my posts on connectedness:

Connectedness, Not Grounding.

I have discovered that I am connected to a great many things. They give me meaning in my daily life. They give me a way to know that I am not alone, a way of knowing that I am loved, cared about, and valued, a way of knowing that I am worthy of being loved, cared about, and valued.

I’m sure that I will be feeling and thinking about several of the things that I am strongly connected to on the holiday; my soul, my favorite library, my ancestors, my guides, my favorite things in all the world.

12. Make some new rituals and traditions that are validating and healing for you.

I make crafts. I love to do that. I imbue them with a lot of meaning and they bring me a lot of joy. I love to go see holiday lights and looking at lit up Christmas trees.

I love to have decorations that I pick out in my homespace. I love to have a tree, though artificial, it brings me a lot of joy. I love to watch all the holiday tv specials and movies.

I love to go to the downtown Macy’s to see their holiday show. This year is A Day in the Life of an Elf. I love to go to Macy’s Christmas department and looking at all the ornaments and decorations. I love to go downtown to see the Holidazzle Parade.

Good and healing thoughts to us all.