Monday, 26 December 2011

Christmas memories

It’s the time of year when many families around the world come together, and celebrate in unison. It’s unfortunate that many of those families don’t unite in peace but instead, old family feuds are brought up and emotions intensify.

I think that when most people think about Christmas, good or bad memories spring to mind. For some people it might bring them joy and peace when they think back to Christmas festivities. For others it might bring painful memories of suffering and miserable times.

In my case, I have a mixture of both positive and negative memories. Although I experienced abuse as a child, I have to say that most of my childhood Christmas memories are good. I have fond memories of my Nan coming to stay with us every year, enjoying good food together and opening presents from under the tree on Christmas morning. There was only one Christmas spent in Italy, in the company of the abuser.

Ironically, it’s been in adult life that I’ve had to live with stress and strong emotions during this month, which is supposed to be filled with peace. For the past 2 years, I’ve spent Christmas in Italy and on both occasions I’ve experienced stress that has later gone on to affect my health. It’s inevitable that spending Christmas in a place that has so many bad memories is going to result in a negative outcome. I’ve had to deal with nightmares and family members who choose to bring up the past. I’ve also experienced triggers from visiting people’s homes that were decorated by the abuser, and seeing old photos on the wall that are constant reminders of my childhood in Italy.

A lot has happened this year and I feel I’ve become much stronger. I’ve always believed that health and happiness are priority and I’ve realised that Christmas is no exception to that outlook. Why should I sacrifice my health and happiness just to please others? I’ve battled the whole year with this predicament and that’s why I find myself where I am today. I don’t feel guilty, I would have liked to see some of my family but I wasn’t given a choice. I know that many survivors aren’t given the choice and some have to endure Christmas in the company of their abuser. Some people are a lot worse off than me and there are some who are forced to do things they don’t want to do. I’d like to think that one day these fellow survivors will have enough strength, as I did, to say “enough is enough.”