Holidays and Loneliness

For many who have suffered abuse at the hands of family members the Christmas season is often a time of loneliness and memories.  Even in the midst of present day celebrations and time with friends it is not unusual to feel the tug of sadness of Christmases past and grief for the family you wished you had grown up in. It can amplify your sensitivity to the slightest, most unintentional acts from others, bringing on feelings of isolation and not fitting in.

I still find myself occasionally struggling with these issues to varying degrees. The most unsettling part is that even if I fared very well last holiday season, I can still find myself having a tough time this year or any future year. Like the ocean tides our feelings can ebb and flow giving a sense of helplessness and frustration for the survivor.  So what do we do to “fight the good fight” even when we feel weary or depressed?  We choose to remember the most important truth we know. Christ is always with us to the very end of this age. That is His promise.

I may have no family now. Many of my friends may be busy with their own families and celebrations to give me much thought. I never know from year to year if Christmas day will be spent with friends or at home with my cat. But I do know that I am never truly alone for I am loved by God.

In my darkest days after breaking away from my family and struggling through the journey of healing I had periods when I just couldn’t think straight. I would have intrusive memories of my most painful moments, and several times I spent Christmas in a psychiatric ward. My mind would become a storm, but there was one thing I clung to, the only thing I could remember at those moments: “Jesus loves me”.

This simple child’s song would repeat in my head – quieting my thoughts and soothing my emotional wounds. When I am blessed to spend the holidays, especially Christmas day with friends, I enjoy it and thank God with heartfelt prayer. On years when I find I will be spending Christmas day home alone, If at all possible, I decide to cook a big meal and invite those in my apartment community who for whatever reason also find themselves alone. I do this to honor God and to be the hands and feet of Christ. To remind others and myself, that Jesus loves me, and I while I may feel lonely, I am never alone.