(Featured image description: Image is of a stereotypical Christmas setting. There is a brown fireplace in the middle, a Christmas tree to the left and a green armchair to the right.)
(CN: abuse, trauma, gaslighting, mention of bullying)
In the run up to Christmas which for me brings a lot of mixed thoughts. Hence today I am going to blog a bit about my experiences at Christmas. This will be a bit of a personal ramble in places which I’m writing for me more than you today, however I hope you’ll understand why if you choose to read on.
I am somebody who enjoys Christmas and still has the Christmas spirit even though I am an adult. I wouldn’t call it my favourite time of year but it is definitely a time of year that I get excited for. I think this is one of the ways being autistic affects me. I still have this childish sense of wonder that comes back despite me arguably being “too old” by society.
As it was, I was a firm believer of Santa Claus up till I was told by my mum outright he wasn’t real. This was in my first year of secondary school and the hope was that my peers would have one less reason to bully me. Since I was told, I made it my mission that year to convince my younger sister that Santa Claus isn’t real. It didn’t work but it led to me getting told off a lot by my mum. Even when I found out about Santa Claus no longer being real, the magic never really faded away.
I enjoyed opening the gifts I got from family. This was how I got many of my childhood games and consoles. That said, I also had a lot of things that I never wanted or used so often just took up space such as toys and various books I was not interested in reading at all. Even when I became older and started to get money from many people, I still looked forward to buying items that related to my special interests. This was usually video games.
Of course, being a child, I was relatively unaware of what was going on around me. Even after I find out Santa is fake I was still oblivious to various things including the consumerist attitudes towards this time of year by companies especially Christmas.
Then as a teen I would begin to realise as an teen the potential sad feelings many people have towards Christmas. Whenever my abuser agreed to be with my mum, my sister and I for Christmas, they often spent Christmas Day down the pub having a drink with their friends. I was enthralled with my new toys, video games and more while my mum was in the kitchen cooking a full roast dinner by herself. Of course, both my mum and my abuser should have been spending time with me and my sister but that is not what happened. There were other things too but it’s not my place to divulge those.
Then of course when my mum and abuser split, it alternated between Christmas at my Mum’s and Christmas at my abuser’s. It was a weird dynamic as I essentially had two Christmases even though the root behaviour of my abuser was still the same. It sorta worked for years except that eventually it led to my abuser not having us on Christmas and New Year’s Day most of those years citing that they had to work. This progressed through my late teens through to my university years.
And then came last Christmas. It was a stressful one due to various external factors however the root cause was my abuser. Sometime between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, I had a domestic incident with them that led to me becoming traumatised and the end our relationship. I shall spare the details but it was unlike anything I had ever experienced and was something I should never have had done to me. In other words, it was physical and was the result of my abuser not understanding how being autistic affects me.
Furthermore, I had to deal with abusive messages from another relative defending my abuser when they were not even there. These messages included very unpleasant gaslighting. I could have gone further and tried to get my abuser convicted, but I did not. The odds were stacked against me and I simply did not have the energy or confidence in the police to support me properly so I let it go. This situation isn’t uncommon with survivors of abuse which is even more common when disabilities are involved.
It is now nearly the one year anniversary. I still have a sense of magic and something else but it’s also come with something else this year that’s not so nice. That thing is trauma. Certain things trigger me and cause anxiety attacks. I have had nightmares and various thoughts that I need to talk over with someone. I don’t think this trauma will be with me every year but for the near future at least will impact on my enjoyment of Christmas. I’ve already had problems as a result.
Looking back, I will miss getting gifts from my abuser because they usually got me exactly what I wanted. However, that is it. I won’t miss their company nor anything else from their time in my life. They are not a good person and didn’t fulfil the role they were supposed to. They haven’t contacted me since then. When they tried to go through someone else, I said they can write me a letter if they wish to contact me but heard nothing since. Hence our relationship is now over as far as I’m concerned.
However – every cloud has a silver living. In other words, with every bad thing there is always something good to come out of it. Namely that I’m alive. I know myself better than I ever have done and am able to plan my life better than before. I was able to survive and get through a lot alongside dealing with what happened. I’m stronger than I was before. I’ve also grown as a person and am looking forward to helping myself recover and progress. I still have the magic of Christmas but it just takes on a different form now.
With all this said, I think that sense of self-acceptance and optimism is the only magic I need this holiday season. Oh, and my chosen family. I love them all.
Happy Holidays everyone,
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