My abuser ruined this holiday for me. All I feel is dread, when Christmas is approaching. I know I shouldn’t, as we haven’t been together for over four years. I am safe — I get that. It is the birthday of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and I celebrate that wholeheartedly. My BF and I have a large blended family and I love that part. We are both delighted with the prospect of buying toys for our grandchildren. I love buying things that our kids and grandkids need and want. It’s hard to explain my holiday depression quickly, so I will do my best to break it down.

I had SUCH a great childhood. My parents did everything they could to make it magical. I know how stressful that is, NOW, as an adult, but we had unbreakable traditions that I treasure: stockings with oranges and peanuts, and candy; going to church Christmas Eve, then coming home and opening a few presents and watching Christmas movies and relaxing; leisurely getting up and waiting for everyone to be up and opening presents; my grandmother’s HUGE cinnamon rolls; opening gifts, then cleaning up for Christmas dinner; the house being super quiet because everyone overate and was napping; leftovers from dinner in the evening and conversation. I miss this SO much — my parents and siblings and their families are 450 miles away.

I miss how excited my children got when they saw what Santa had brought them and how much pleasure they took in us putting their toys together and playing with them. I miss the dinners we had on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. My former mother-in-law would have us a dinner of appetizers and we all had to dress festively and gather.

What ruined Christmas for me, I suppose, is to find out that it was really anti-climactic. When did children lose their awe and wonder and turn into beings that expected gifts, especially now since their Dad and i are no longer together? He merely sent them Amazon gift cards, which was kind of him, but sent them a week and a half prior to Christmas. Normally, he’s all about high dollar gifts, that they may or may not use or understand. I have to scrape together what I can, because I cannot afford to go big; I have two adult children and a teenager, so their gifts become more and more expensive. Gone are the days when whatever was purchased was magical because it dealt with a specific topic or subject that they were interested in. Now, my Ex has turned it into a show of wealth. My daughter’s car issues and pregnancy made it to where he couldn’t see them, but I’m not sure that was a bad thing this year. My Ex has a new girlfriend he has to impress, so he doesn’t have to act like a doting father.

My illusion (or maybe delusion) of what Christmas with your spouse should look like and be is what haunts me. We were usually short on money and agreed to get each other nothing for the time being, only to get each other something later on. I would follow through, concentrating the money on gifts for our kids or family. Inevitably, if we were with my parents, he would go ahead and get me an expensive gift, like the Fitbit I wanted, leaving me there to look incredibly insensitive. He would disappear and would only spend Christmas with us long enough to take credit for the Santa gifts or be there to receive gifts. Most of the time, he would either hang around and be in a mean, ugly mood or disappear for hours with friends of his. Lastly, there were drunk and hungover Christmases where he would drink so much he couldn’t function, so I had to make sure he was safe and cleaned up, OR receive beatings and tirades for allowing him to get to that point — basically not stopping him. Um, attempting to stop him usually got me a fist or open palm. I was damned if I did or didn’t. I realize NOW that I wasn’t responsible for making Christmas perfect, but I wished I could’ve done more to make it loving and safe.

Despite my holiday “hell” rantings, I do wish peace and joy and prosperity now and throughout the year to come, to all of my friends and family and readers!