Christmas is but a few days away. It feels empty. It feels just like any other day except with the commitment to make turkey with all the fixins and other holiday delights. My heart just isn’t in it anymore and hasn’t been for five years and especially for the last three years. If I didn’t have children, I would just love to write it off.
I used to love baking and used to do a lot of it. During the last five years, my love for baking has completely waned. I think about it and that is as far as it goes. I love to give but don’t always find opportunity. This year was better as I found ways to give – which I took great joy in – but then the emptiness creeps back in. Christmas emptiness.
I used to love Christmas – as a child – when I was ignorant of my mother’s abuse. I have very few Christmas memories and I know its because my mind has blocked out so much pain. I remember barely anything before grade 4 and grade 5 – and what I do remember was not ‘delightful.’ Christmas was usually the time of year where I could count on my mother being kind when I was little, but of course, that changed more as I got older. After I became a Christian (at age 26) and after I was married (age 28), there was never a guarantee of niceness – there would be an element of niceness but also an element of insidious cruelty which always happened every single time I visited her. Every. single. time. (And no one ever stood up to her in my defence – thus making themselves enablers.) I just never knew how it would happen or what she’d say to totally belittle and degrade me in front of everyone. And it happened every single time I’d visit – audience or not. I cannot tell you how many times I drove home bawling, having to wipe my eyes to keep my vision clear while driving.
I don’t know why I miss those family Christmases when I was looked on by everyone with such disdain, especially in those latter years – maybe because I was hopeful that every year I went, this year would be different. Fact was, it seemed to get worse every year. I would learn later that those disdainful looks were the result of my mother’s smears and character assassinations. She’d orchestrate her abuse in such a way that her enablers (my family of origin) would abuse me by proxy with disdain and long periods of silence (which can be likely defined as silent treatments.) It was awful! It felt like I was always walking on tippy-toe, on egg shells. It’s no wonder, I suppose because I was gossiped about so much behind my back, that anything I said or did would get back to my mother (as I have been no contact with her for about 15 years now and very strict no contact with her and family of origin now for the last 5 of those years.) So whatever information got back to her, who knows how things would have got twisted from there. I hated the scornful looks from them! Those looks brought back a sense of shame that I felt very often when I was little. That sense of shame was such a trigger for me, it made me want to find a dark corner and curl up into a fetal position and not come out – and that is when I wished I remembered more of my childhood than I do. Maybe its a good thing I don’t though – who knows what horrors there might be that I would not be capable of handling.
It amazed me, and amazes me still, how my family never knew me at all. It shouldn’t surprise me really as I was the scapegoat, the black sheep. I hated how no one knew me – the real me – nor did they care to. Out of ignorance, they believed her and everything she said about me or insinuated about me. She purposely set it up so that even when I was still part of the family, I was estranged from it. My whole life I felt like I was on the outside looking in. I was never close to siblings … except one for a spell – and that one happened by fluke – over a certain incidence. I truly think that had I not come over that day, at that time, I would never even have been close to that one. I know this now.
I don’t miss being with family when they treated me this way. But do you know what I do miss?? I miss the idea of family – a loving one, a family that accepts each other without bashing and stabbing each other behind each other’s backs.
I’ve watched many Christian families in my circles – they get together with their extended families and they seem to really know how to love on each other and accept each other without question. The love they have for each other comes across as genuine and not a put-on for appearances. I never knew love like that growing up (as you might already know from reading the posts on this blog) … and my heart still aches for it.
I have tried to give my children loving and memorable Christmases – but the saddest thing ever is that, even though I try, I think I really suck at it. Maybe they don’t see it that way, but I do. I find I just can’t get into it enough. Is it because Christmases trigger too much pain? Could be. I have such a hard time getting unstuck when it comes to ‘being joyful at Christmas.’
Christmas festivities for the last 4-5 years has just been myself, my husband and our three kids. I try to enjoy it and make it enjoyable for them – but am not sure I am accomplishing that at all! I try to put on the festive face – but I am terrible at hiding how I really feel.
Christmas has become a time for family as much as celebrating the birth of the Saviour of the world … and I love the Lord with all my heart. I try to make Jesus the focus, but even that is hard. It’s just hard.
It might not be the best of Christmases for my children in the way of tradition and festivity and their mother’s lack of festive joy – but it will be full with love and kindness and acceptance which are all the things I never truly got – I got the delusive versions of those things.
When raised by an NPD mother and living with an enabling family who abuse by proxy, it leaves a heart feeling empty of things that should have been. I don’t miss them – the narcissistic family. I don’t miss being treated with disdain. I don’t miss being torn down by my mother while the rest of the family does nothing. … But I do miss what could have been – and what should have been.
Perhaps, Lord willing, it will be a better Christmas than what I anticipate it to be. I sure hope so. I hope its so full of love, laughter and memories for our whole family that we’ll want to relive it.
~ Saoirse Quill