Surviving Holiday HELL – Self-Care Tips for Sexual Abuse Survivors During the Holiday Season

The aged old question of DO I STAY or DO I GO is one that survivors of sexual abuse are fretting over during the Holiday Season.

I’ve heard it said that the #1 cause of stress = CHOICES.

With that notion in mind, sexual abuse survivors have a vitally important CHOICE to make; to spend the holiday’s with extended family or not. Note that this choice is a very conflicted choice: DO I STAY or DO I GO is a recurring self-dialogue and dance with confusion us survivors of a crime engage in regularly but the dance gets more rigorous as we approach traditional family holidays.

Many vulnerable adults & kids are triggered by spending holidays with their perpetrator. Forced to dine, sleep under his/her roof, and even play flag football with said evil monger, with all that being said, the perpetrator could even hold the position as matriarch or patriarch of said extended family; no wonder why it’s a conflicted choice. In short, holiday time is a natural scenario of putting abused kids & vulnerable adults in an insular, submissive, silent and dis-empowered role.

Here are some useful tips to help decipher and answer, DO I STAY or DO I GO.

DO I STAY? – Engage in the “law of substitution” and substitute doing an activity instead of feeling isolated, lonely and missing out on the family holiday event if you decide to stay home:

Tip #1: Volunteer

a. Pick up holiday pies to deliver to veterans, retirement communities or orphanages. This way you are substituting being alone & isolated with being engaged in a beneficial activity. Set this up in advance, so that you have approval to do so & your day is structured & planned accordingly.

Tip #2: Pre-connect with a lifeline

a. Pre-select a study buddy, friend, colleague or group.

b. Ask them if it’s OK to phone, text or email you through the holiday so as to ward of the “loneliness” in order to stay connected with you. Set a 30 sec time limit for a connection call, connection text or connection emails.

Tip #3: Create new memories or traditions

a. Plan to volunteer in the morning, feed the homeless or if you play guitar, entertain hospital patients.

b. Eat a special holiday meal out at a pre-determined unique restaurant.

c. Do a special activity – go to the theatre, cinemas, bowling, park or beach.

DO I GO? – Here are some useful & practical tips to empower yourself before you head out to the holiday table if you decide to go:

Tip #1: Pre-select and memorize at least 3 Declarations/Mantras/Sayings/Quotes/Sanskrit/Mudras. Repeat it in an undertone or head to the bathroom, turn on the water faucet and say out loud several times.

a. Not my monkey, not my circus! (old polish proverb)

b. I am worth doing self-care today!

c. It’s none of my business what others think about me!

d. I have enough ‘bandwidth’ to take care of only me today!

e. I’m free to leave, without a hullabaloo, at any time!

f. I’m empowering myself to determine how long I want to stay here.

g. Finger Mudra = saa taa naa maa (Sanskrit) – Truth is my identity!

Do this finger mudra under the dining table – why you ask?

Guru Singh says “Index finger mudra stimulates the brain and imparts knowledge, expands our field of possibilities, and releases us from limitations.

Middle finger mudra stimulates the brain and imparts patience, wisdom and purity.

Ring finger mudra stimulates the brain and imparts vitality and vigor.

Little/pinky finger mudra stimulates the brain and aids clear communication.”

h. Or create your own personal empowerment statements.

Tip #2: Envision your surroundings before you go

a. Get familiar with your surroundings; especially if you’ve never been to this city or relatives home

b. Do Google map search – street view of where you are going.

c. Determine how close the nearest park, beach walk or bike path is, in the event you need a self-care break.

d. Yelp/Google any other “outside your family” events in the area: skating rink, bowling, theatre cinemas – this is a law of substitution quirky technique to implement if things are getting uncomfortable, suggest one of these additional outings, for yourself &/or guests.

Tip #3: Calculate, decide & pre-determine the Quantity &/or Quality you want during the Holiday – this will help you to be in control, stay in control, and not get to over consumption.

a. Decide upfront just how many alcohol drinks you’ll consume

b. Decide upfront how many slices of pie you’ll gobble down

c. Decide before the meal if you want to feel like a food coma set in after you eat the holiday meal

d. Decide which food helpings and how your food plate will look like.