Spend Holiday with Abusive Parents?
Joan Jerkovich - December 23, 2013 11:48 am
My parents were so abusive to us children growing up, that my siblings and I have decided to cut them out of our lives. We don’t plan to spend Christmas, or any time with them during the holidays, but they don’t get it. They continue to deny how physically and emotionally abusive they were to us. Their requests to get together for the holidays are starting to bug us to the point of anger. I don’t want to have to deal with this and my siblings don’t either. We don’t see them through the year, but how can we get the message across that just because it’s the holiday we won’t be seeing them now?
You are so brave to ask this question and thank you for sharing, as there are sure to be others who struggle as you do. Your family history of abuse runs so deep that, right out of the gate, I want to encourage you to work through this with a licensed counselor, if you aren’t already. That said, I’m a firm believer that if you are being abused, you need to distance yourself, or completely break ties if necessary from your abuser. No one deserves to be abused. Sustained abuse can, and often will, leave you with emotional scars that you will carry with you through your lifetime. While you can heal, the scars will always be a reminder of your violent past.
It sounds as if your parents are in denial about how abusive they were to you and your siblings. Maybe they don’t see their actions as abuse but have categorized it in their minds as “discipline”? In years past, it was more common to look the other way when parents imposed harsh physical and emotional “discipline” on their children. Thankfully, we have moved forward as a society from that stance. If you are frustrated by your parent’s denial, refusing to spend time with them this holiday may be a powerful chance to pull them back to reality.
Hold firm with your resolve to communicate that you will not be spending time with them. If it fits your personality to take a direct approach, go ahead and tell them “why”. Tell them that you are making a conscious choice to not be with them due to their past abusive behavior. If overt confrontation leaves you feeling anxious, you don’t have to give them the “why”, but you will have to make up your mind to not cave in to their requests. The less comfortable you are with confrontation, the more careful you will have to be to not give in. This is where you can work together with your siblings and let the more outspoken ones take the lead. Wherever this takes you, you will have to remain consistent in your resolve. Repeat yourself until you sound like a broken record, refuse to answer their calls, and don’t open the door if they show up on your doorstep. Do whatever it takes to stand your ground.
If there is hope for rekindling a relationship with your parents they will have to move beyond their denial and make amends. Healing this broken relationship won’t be easy and it won’t quick and, without their commitment to working hard with a licensed professional, won’t be possible. I stand with you in your resolve to protect yourself from their abuse. Only when you remove the thorn of abuse from your life can you begin your personal journey toward healing. Bless you for your courage and for honoring your spirit this holiday season.
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• How can you anchor your resolve to not give in?
• How will you soothe the painful emotions and anger of this confrontation?
• What will you do to bring a sense of calm and peace to your holiday?
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