Christmas With, or Freedom from, Dysfunctional FamiliesBy
I have been sick for almost 2 weeks which has been very bad timing for the Emerging from Broken website as the holidays are the busiest time of year for comments and private emails. I have been unable to answer them all this year. By the time I began to recover from the illness I had, I only had a couple of days to get ready for Christmas!
So this post is going to be short!
There is this familiar note that I get about Christmas with dysfunctional families: The message that people try to tell me, but really they are only trying to convince themselves, is that we are powerless and that we have no choice when it comes to what we want. I am told that “they” (controlling, manipulative and abusive parents) are ‘alone’ and it would not be fair (to them) if we don’t visit on Christmas day, and what I hear in that message is that our happiness and that of our own children’s happiness should be sacrificed in order to make these abusers happy. I am not sure where the truth about “love” is, in that.
We are “taught” that we get what we deserve, and that we ‘reap what we sow’ but it is amazing how that same teaching is not applied to abusive, disrespectful or unloving parents. How did they get to be exempt from reaping what they sowed, or from getting what they deserved?
If my mother is alone this year, it is not from anything that I did against her. It was because I finally saw the truth; that I did not deserve to be treated the way that she treated me. I gave her a choice; she could stop treating me that way OR stop having a relationship with me. She chose no relationship.
I got a comment today on an old Christmas post preaching love and forgiveness and using all the ‘guilt and shame’ tactics that I write about all the time here in EFB. The writer reminded me that our children are watching us. This was a comment written to indicate that I am being a bad example to my children because of the way that I live my life today.
My children were watching me when I was being disrespected, disregarded and walked all over for years before I stood up to the abusers in my life. My children watched me accept treatment that I never deserved for one second. They saw me accept nasty comments, degrading treatment, they saw me serve and serve and serve while I accepted that treatment too. I didn’t know that I had a choice and without meaning to, I taught them that they didn’t have a choice either. They saw me put myself last. They saw me discount myself and if silence is consent, they saw me agree with the way that everyone treated me; like I was the least important person in the world.
Thank God they are watching me now! I have spent the last 6 or 7 years trying to undo the false message of ‘love’ that I taught them for so many years of their young lives.
The only judgemental comments that I get from readers are about the way that I write about my mother and father. People preach forgiveness and acceptance. This website is about recovering from the damage that abuse and trauma caused by validating that it happened in the first place. It is about seeing guilt and shame for the abuse tactics that they are, and it is about learning the REAL and TRUE definition of love. Obligation has no place in that definition of love and the definition of real love is a two way street.
I receive comments weekly from people who describe horrific abuse and usually with ongoing emotional abuse and they add, “Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents”. People pour out their pain over the ways that they have been disregarded and discounted, physically, emotionally and often sexually abused by their parents, but want to make sure that I know they ‘love’ the people who did this to them and continue to do so much harm to them. I want to say “WHY do you love them? How do you love them, what does that mean?”. I want to ask them what they think “love” is. Because acceptance of abuse is not what I have come to understand love is. And it was in seeing abuse for what it really is, that set me free from the consequences of it. (depression, trauma, nightmares, dissociative behaviour, addictions etc.)
And to the people who preach that what I am writing about here is against the message of Christ, I invite them to open their eyes to what the message of Christ really is. Christ was the original teacher of ‘equal value’. Christ does not teach acceptance of abuse in any way whatsoever; not from parents or from anyone else.
This holiday season I wish you truth. I wish you real love in the true definition of love which in a nutshell is the definition of ‘best’. Love is doing what is best for the one loved. I encourage you to think about this from BOTH sides. It is not best for me to accept abuse from anyone. It is not best for the abuser to have no consequences for their actions. It is not best for my children to witness a dysfunctional family system as an example of love because that is not love and really only encourages the cycle of abuse to continue.
Have a wonderful Christmas. This is a difficult time for so many; Celebrate hope. Celebrate you and the hope that is in you. Celebrate that there IS hope. I am thinking about you! Please share your thoughts.
Hugs and Love, Darlene
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