There are certain times of the year when those “difficult dates” seem to come one right after another. This is one of those times — Thanksgiving, my brother’s birthday, the solstice, and then Christmas and New Year’s. There’s very little time to catch my breath. (Actually, they aren’t “difficult dates” at all; they are, as a friend of mine calls them, “hellidays.”)
For me, it is worse when something that is normal or neutral or even happy for most people comes on the same day as a Satanic holiday. Others are sailing along totally unaware of the horrible thoughts that the day stirs up for me. When somebody asks, “How was your Thanksgiving?” they expect me to actually tell them how it was, and I know I shouldn’t, not if I want them to keep on talking to me. I’m careful these days who I tell and who I don’t because it doesn’t feel fair to catch folks by surprise. Plus their reaction is usually pretty unpleasant for me and my quota of unpleasantness is already filled.
If I am asked, “What do you plan to do for Christmas?” the first thought that comes to mind is, “Slit my throat.” I don’t intend to, of course, but the idea expresses my feelings pretty well. So I hedge and say, “Nothing much,” or “I’ll be alone this year and I’m okay with that.” It’s the truth, (not the whole truth by far) and nothing but the truth. In my book I’m not lying.
I don’t have to worry about others asking me what plans I have for Groundhog Day, which we know is Candlemas. Few people are aware of the solstices or equinoxes so I don’t need to share anything about those days, either. It’s a relief.
What’s an even bigger relief is knowing other survivors and being able to talk to them and tell it like it really is. I don’t have to walk on eggshells! Not all of us were abused on exactly the same days and not all of us were abused in the same ways. But it’s similar enough that we all know what it was like to live through it and what it is like today to remember and struggle with the effects of the abuse, year after year.
What in the world would I do without you-all? I cannot imagine living without contact with other survivors. You are my family, my real family, whether I have met you or not. Thank you for being brave enough to push through the hard times, for being strong enough to accept your truth and, by your very existence, to witness other’s truth. You give me solace in my own hard times — I am so very grateful for each and every one of you.