Hello dear readers,
We are just days away from Christmas. My heart is full of gratitude for so many things AND I feel so deeply for those of you who are dealing with, and healing from relationship trauma and betrayal.
You are my people. I navigated relationship trauma for years before I ever got help for myself. I pled with my husband to stop looking at pornography. I thought that should be a simple, easy request. I didn’t understand addiction, and what porn actually does to the brain. I felt as though I wasn’t enough for him, that if I was, he would have stopped already.
I was feeling pressure from so many directions, and had a hard time deciding what to do. Religious leaders were telling me it was my fault, that I wasn’t having enough sex with him, AND they were telling me that I had made a commitment to be married to him in this life, and the afterlife, so I was to stay put and stay married. I felt a big need to stay “for the kids” sake. I didn’t want my kids to have divorced parents they had to go between. There were SO MANY thoughts swimming through my head on a daily basis.
At 9 years into our relationship I asked for a separation and later a divorce. There were other issues in the marriage too, but his inability, or unwillingness to get help with his porn addiction was definitely a factor in my decision.
The best thing that I did for myself during this time was go to therapy. For years I had refused to go saying “the issue is him, and the porn, not me. So I don’t need therapy.” Oh but I did. (During my second divorce I found a life coach who was so helpful! In many ways more helpful than therapy was. Even though I wish I had known about life coaching from the beginning, I’m glad I started somewhere and decided that I needed help too.)
I separated in the fall time, and that first Christmas as a single mom was hard! Money was especially tight! I was working long hours at a job, and the kids had to be in daycare. I was feeling so much guilt and shame about my decision to separate. It would have been a lie to think that if I was still with their dad things would be better financially, because they would have been worse. He was unemployed at the time, and I had always been the main breadwinner.
I distinctly remember many sleepless nights where I was trying to come up with solutions to some of the issues around the holidays. Even though my kids were early elementary school age, they LOVED giving gifts. (They still do now. It’s definitely part of their personalities!) I wanted them to be able to give gifts, but funds were tight.
Then a miracle happened. Some friends invited us to participate in their church’s gift giving program for low-income families. I had never used any service like this before, but was so glad I said yes. It was a fun event where the kids went to the kids room to play and do a craft and I got to pick out a gift for each of the kids. But the best part of all of this, and the true miracle was that as we were leaving they gave me an envelope. Inside was a gift certificate to a tiny little thrift shop that the church supports. It was for $50 off my purchase of $50 or more. This was the miracle I had been needing.
A few days later I took the kids to this thrift shop. It was a tiny little building (thankfully so none of my kids would get lost), with the kindest ladies inside. When we walked in I told the employees our plans. I let them know we had the gift certificate, and that each of my kids had a Trader Joe’s bag with them. They wanted to be able to shop for me, and their siblings, and keep it a secret. So we all wandered around the store semi-separately (we were the only shoppers the whole time), putting items into our bags when no one was looking. When it was time to check out, the kids went up one at a time and emptied their bags to be rung up, then went out to the car one at a time with their bags in hand. Then I got up with my bag to settle the total bill.
The women who were working said they had called their manager and told them how cute the kids were and how this was how we were doing our holiday shopping and asked if there was any bigger discount they could give us. The manager told them to double our gift certificate we came in with. This was another HUGE MIRACLE for us.
In the end the kids all got gifts for each other, me, their dad, and their grandparents and aunts and uncles that lived in town, and I was able to get gifts for the kids. I didn’t have to look at all the price tags, I felt good just letting the kids do their thing, and knew somehow it would all work out. And it did work out. After all was said and done, and many gifts were bought, I think I paid about $30.
That year opening gifts is still a favorite memory for me. The kids were SO EXCITED to see the faces of others as they opened gifts that they chose for each other. They were so proud to have picked it completely on their own, and truly no one else knew what they had purchased. They felt as rich as could be, being able to buy anything they wanted in the store, and I don’t think they ever really knew how poor we were, and that all I had to pay was $30.
One thing that I have learned over the years on my journey to self-love and self-confidence, and freedom from abusive relationship is this; when we open up, and are vulnerable with our truth, miracles happen. Our people show up. Others wanted to help when they knew I needed help. And now I want to help when I know others are struggling. Talking about your struggles is not a weakness, it’s a strength!
Christmas at our house has morphed and changed over the years, but one thing remains, the kids love giving gifts to others. This year’s shopping looked like me taking all 3 kids to Kohls, walking around together while they each pointed out items they were interested in. Then I would take one child at a time and they would select their gifts for the other two kids, while the two others wandered the store together. And then on a separate day my boyfriend took the kids shopping to pick out gifts for me. There were other years I had girlfriends volunteer to take the kids to Target and help them shop. And whenever someone has seen a need, and stepped up to offer to help in some way, I have always said YES! Because there is magic in the giving, and magic in the receiving.
So as I reflect about Christmas, I can’t help but also reflect on the progress I’ve made in my own healing. Over the years I have grown leaps and bounds! I love Christmas, and giving gifts, and seeing the looks on my kids’ faces as they watch others open the gifts they have selected for them. And I will always remember that first Christmas single and how my bravery in leaving and building something new, helped create so much love and magic with my family.
So dear reader, if you are struggling with your decision to leave or not, or have already left your abusive relationship, I’m here to offer hope that there is beauty in the journey, and there is help available. There are angels on earth to help with things like Christmas, and there are specially trained professionals to help you with your mental health journey as well.
I’m sending so much love to you this year at the holidays and always, Kendra
PS- Here is a link to my earlier blog post about my first Christmas after my divorce to my second husband, a Covert Narcissist.
If this post has resonated with you, and you’d like help finding your own emotional freedom, I’d love to help you. I have devoted my Life Coaching practice to helping people just like you find freedom and happiness after betrayal. Schedule a complimentary consultation call HERE to see if Life Coaching is right for you. Taking this step will change your life. Schedule your call today!
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