REFLECTIONS ON THANKSGIVING
My desire this week was to write an inspiring post on the topic of Thanksgiving and gratitude. As usual, I must speak honestly and from my heart. These weeks from mid-November to my birthday in January are hard ones for me. Each year these months get easier, but not easy. These reflections on Thanksgiving and this time of year are ones are want to share with you.
Holidays can be difficult for all of us – survivors of abuse or those never abused. Expectations may be high. Some prepare and hope for the perfect day(s). Others may have expectations of sadness, family discord, loneliness, etc. for that are what has occurred frequently. Some may try to ignore the actual day or the entire season. How do you handle the holidays?
The time period from November 20th to my birthday in January is filled with anniversaries for me. I remember dates. My mother used to remember dates. These dates mark significant occurrences. Besides the past anniversaries, holidays in general included more abuse – especially ritual abuse and extreme torture perpetrated by my ex-husband, Tom M., and others.
There is no need to list all the anniversaries or dates I remember in this post. I will include a few:
- The anniversary of my marriage to Tom M. in the courthouse one year and in the Catholic Church on the same date, different year. This same date, different year, was when I separated from him.
- Tom M.’s birthday in December. A German court decision in 2004 that led me to flee the courtroom with Megan and hide for a week with her. At the end of the week, the court agreed to consider the sexual abuse charges against Megan’s father, Tom M., and Megan’s safety if he had custody. She remained in my custody for another year and a half before Megan and I fled Germany for the United States.
- The day after Thanksgiving, 2007, was when Megan and I were discovered in the United States. That day changed my life and Megan’s forever. PAIN hits deeply.
- Last year on the day after Thanksgiving, I fell around 5 a.m. in the morning. My face took the brunt of the fall. Serious dental work was needed.
Weeks after I fell in November, 2014, I recovered another memory. When I was a kid, I broke my two front teeth. A lie was formulated and told by myself and my family for decades in order to cover up the real cause of the broken teeth. The true cause was my enraged mother who pushed me down concrete steps. The root of her rage was an angry priest who was dissatisfied that I did not sexually service him willingly and without tears. (Human trafficking of my body continued. I learned how to hide the hurt and pain in order to service others with the appearance of surface willingness.)
Holidays. Memories. The past. The present. Healing.
Each year, the seemingly unbearable PAIN is less. Each year, the PROFOUND SADNESS is recognized and acknowledged in a simpler manner. The SADNESS sits with acceptance and even with a certain amount of forgiveness. This year my heart is more open – open for all there is in life. That includes peace, joy and love.
I have not spent any holidays or birthdays with Megan Ellen since Thanksgiving of 2007. Yes, it is personally painful. I have discovered that self care and self compassion are imperative for me during these months. Self-blame has been replaced with compassion toward me. I did my best … to protect my daughter and to tell of the crimes being committed against Megan, myself, and the other people that Megan reported. I take the best care of myself as I am able. If I compensate or overcompensate for the stress, the hurt, and the loneliness in negative ways; I attempt to forgive myself and let it go.
My life coaching practice is in its infancy. Until the practice is self-sustaining, I remain in my job as a barista. Each of the last few years, I work most holidays. Working on the holidays gives me a chance to take the focus off of me. Being able to share love in small ways with customers and co-workers is a gift. There are lonely people everywhere as well as those to need a place to sit and sip. People go to coffee shops on holidays for various reasons.
Some are lonely.
Some want a break from family and the tension at home.
Some are ignoring the holidays for personal reasons.
Some want to take good cheer in a cup to those making dinner at home.
Some are lost in spirit.
Some are homeless.
Some have nowhere to go.
One year, on Thanksgiving, 2006, Megan and I went to a movie on Thanksgiving and thought to go to a coffee shop afterwards. It had closed early. That was okay. Megan and I were in hiding that year. We were together and able to go to the place we were staying. It was not a typical Thanksgiving. Both Megan and I were suffering from sadness and from homesickness for our friends, apartment, life in Germany, spiritual community, our material goods and car. Yet, we were together; and, we were happy enough. I was grateful then; and, I am grateful now for each moment spent with Megan.
Life can be almost unbearably hard at times. I am grateful that I survived, thankful that I did not succumb to the suicidal brainwashing that Tom M. installed within me, and grateful that I now thrive. Oh, the holidays do not include all of what I truly desire …..
Yet, I have a deep, inner PEACE as I write this blog post …. This peace is with me most of the time.
Joy … moments of joy will occur on Thanksgiving as I work.
I write most blog posts, including this one, days before they go live. I thank you, my readers, for sharing in my life during this season. As you live your Thanksgiving, 2015, take a moment to look at the people around you. See your loved ones and/or the strangers … what do you see? Do you sense love beneath the surface? What blessings are surrounding you or within you?
This weekend I will connect with friends via e-mails, phone calls, and perhaps a meal or coffee/tea. I am grateful for my friendships and the love shared within them. My daughter and I will most likely connect via texts or a phone call.
I recommend you do something for yourself this Thanksgiving weekend.
Take a walk.
Sit in a place that brings you peace.
Laugh with a friend or family member.
Seek refuge in a coffee or tea shop, if needed. : )
If tears show up, let them fall …. Tears of sadness or joy.