Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

This is my annual “got triggered by the Halloween store” blog entry. I guess I will keep writing it until my 11-year-old son is grown.

My son gets annoyed with me every year that I will not let him buy, or even try on, any costume with a black hood. No exceptions. Non-negotiable. Of course, in his 11-year-old mind, the black-hooded costumes are the scariest and “coolest,” and as an adolescent, he is looking for any way he can to prove that he is no longer a “little kid.”

He placed one hooded mask on his head briefly, and I felt a sharp pain across my head. His friend wanted to try one on, and just that knowledge sent more shooting pains through my head. I told the friend that my son would have to let her know how the costume looks because seeing children in black hooded robes makes me sick.

Last night, I have flashback nightmares. I reenacted one of my more heinous memories. I could feel and hear the same sensations I experienced when the event actually happened, and I jolted awake pouring sweat with my heart pounding. I eventually went back to sleep but continued having nightmares. I gave up at 4:30 a.m.

Photo credit: Microsoft

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It feels like forever since I wrote on my blog. I started a new job a few weeks ago. I knew that starting the new job, combined with the Christmas season, would take most of my focus, so I wrote ahead on my blogs, both here and on my professional adoption blog. I am glad I did because it has been a wild ride.

I was hit with some tragic news a few weeks ago that sent me reeling. Someone that I cared about passed away, and I did not take the news well. As philosophic as I can be about reincarnation when applied to my own life, it was not much comfort when I first got the news. I am doing much better now as I have had time to process and digest the news. Loss is hard, no matter where it comes from. There are no shortcuts through grief.

Getting this news was like a punch in the gut. I tried to rely on my three-step guide, but it was only so helpful at first. It was like the bad news sucked the wind out of me, and I simply could not breathe. I also was not convinced that I would get over this in 36 hours, so that was of no comfort to me. I had to hope that trying to feed my good wolf would be enough to get me through this cycle of triggering.

As it turned out, it took me about three days to pull out of the nosedive. While I was in that bad place again, there is nothing that would have convinced me that I would be okay again. I cried off and on for three days – hard, wracking sobs. It never once occurred to me to go back and read what I had just recently written about how to handle being triggered.

I even called my therapist and scheduled an appointment. I ended therapy a couple of years ago. I think I need a little “tune up.” The holiday season is always hard for me, but it makes me feel like I am bi-polar to be okay … and then fighting suicidal urges … and then okay again. Yes, I know that I am being triggered and that I am pulling myself back out (and that many of you would do anything to have the ability to pull out of a trigger in three days), but it makes me feel “crazy.” I need to hear a professional reassure me again that what I am experiencing is normal for a child abuse survivor.

If anyone else is feeling this way during the holiday season, you are not alone. Even after all of my years and hard work of healing, I still struggle with this, too.

Related Topic:

PTSD and Cycles of Emotions

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Storm clouds (c) Lynda Bernhardt

As I wrote yesterday, I am having a tough time this holiday season. I was actually doing pretty well, or at least holding my own, until some things blew up with my kid at school yesterday that was bad enough to involve the principal. I have spent the last 24 hours in tears on and off, and I don’t think it is just about my kid’s situation.

This time of year is simply hard for me. I suffered so much abuse in the month of December during my elementary school years, and I still have pain to grieve. I have not wanted to face that I because I don’t want to feel the pain, but I need to. I need to cry it out so there will be room inside of myself to fill back up with peace and positive energy. Right now, I have too much pain taking up all of the space.

One blessing today has been recognizing how many people in my life care about me. I really am blessed to have a lot of people in my life who are willing to take a few moments to listen and offer me a hug. I have had more hugs today than I have probably had all year, which is kind of sad but true.

I also learned about a form of spiritual healing that was new to me. I am curious to learn about it. I’ll post about it once I understand it myself.

In the meantime, I am going to spend this evening watching It’s a Wonderful Life and allowing myself to grieve by crying along with George Bailey. I have found that losing myself in a movie that makes me cry is a wonderful way to purge my own painful emotions.

I am also very proud of myself for not self-injuring because I had the strongest urges that I have had in a long time. I am learning that there is always a deeper level of healing to reach and that I have the tools to heal myself if I can just stop myself from diving down the well of despair.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Gingerbread man (c) Lynda Bernhardt

The holidays have always been a difficult time of year for me. My friends get really busy preparing for Christmas, so I spend less time with them. I am bombarded with movies and TV shows that focus on the beauty of family at Christmas, specifically focusing on appreciating extended family, and it is just a painful reminder of all that I do not have in my life. My father is deceased, and I have not laid eyes on my mother in four years (which is a positive thing).

The holidays are supposed to be about remembering wonderful child experiences, but all I have to remember is pain. The holidays were a time in which I was cut off from caring teachers and friends and was stuck for two weeks in an abusive environment. I have some particularly painful abuse memories that happened on Christmas Eve, and I have had to work hard to push past certain Christmas songs being triggering because of past abuse.

I generally fall into a funk right after Halloween and battle depression through New Year’s Day. It is not until my son returns to school and life returns to normal that I start to feel okay again.

This year, I have decided that I refuse to surrender two months of my life to depression, so I am fighting hard to keep myself remotely sane. This is an uphill battle for me because there is so much around me to trigger the pain. Already, I am seeing less of friends. I am hearing triggering songs on the radio. If I allow myself, I can very easily spiral down the well of depression.

I am fighting back, often on a minute-by-minute basis, and I refuse to give up and accept that I must be miserable for another month. I am doing this by consciously choosing to stop all negative thoughts and, instead, focus my attention on things that make me happy, like playing “O Holy Night” on the piano. I am also doing yoga and meditation daily to help me ground myself in the present.

I was hired to write many more “How to” articles for eHow.com, and I chose to write one article entitled How to Endure Holiday Season After Child Abuse. I am following the advice I included in the article, but, even now as I write this post, I can feel the fringes of depression trying to engulf me. So, I am going to post this article on my blog and then go do something I enjoy. That is the only way I am going to make it through this holiday season remotely sane.

Related Topic:

Approach of Easter and the Abused Adopted Child

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Ever since Halloween came and went, I have been struggling emotionally. It is not a constant struggle, thank goodness, but I have definitely had my tough moments. I have noticed on my favorite message board for abuse survivors that a lot of my friends are struggling, too. I suspect all of this ties into our history of childhood abuse.

When you are a child living in an abusive household, the holidays are grueling. Your lifelines – your friends and teachers – are cut out of your life as you head home for the holiday break, and you are immersed in an abusive environment 24/7 with no hope of a reprieve until after the New Year. That’s tough for a kid.

To a certain extent, I still feel that way today, even though my household is far from abusive. My friends get busy with their own holiday plans, and I wind up feeling alone in my house. This triggers all sorts of terrible memories from childhood.

I found a way to make Christmas better last year by having my sister and nephews come for the holiday. I still have not figured out a way to make Thanksgiving more bearable. We have my husband’s family come for the meal, but they come and go in less than two hours, leaving me with a long weekend of trying to entertain my hyperactive child. But I digress…

Today is Veteran’s Day, which is yet another day that my kid is out of school. My husband is traveling – again – and that leaves me feeling lonely like I did as a child. I know I will get through the day. It just feels like a foreshadowing of the black cloud that seems to settle over me as the holidays approach.

I am trying to find a way to honor the sadness of my childhood as it applies to the holidays without making this my present. I have not quite figured out how to do it yet. I need to make it a priority to do yoga and meditation every single day. I need to give myself the room to grieve but then also find the joy, too. It’s going to be another long marathon until the New Year, so I guess I had better get started preparing for it.

Related Topic:

Approach of Easter and the Abused Adopted Child

Photo credit: Rosanne Mooney

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