Surviving Domestic Abuse during the Holidays

Looking back now, I cannot remember a single Holiday that passed by without excessive arguments with my ex-husband.  I use to think he was purposely trying to make the holiday unpleasant for us.  I remember trying to create the holiday mood by playing Bing Crosby Christmas, decorating the tree, hanging the stockings and such.  What I most remember about the holidays was all the fighting we did.  To this day I really could not tell you what we fought about.

I am not going to make excuses for him because there is no excuse to act like that.  However I realize I was trying to make a happy holiday where there could not be one.   Part of my frustration had to do with thinking I actually had some control over how he acted.  He never really said it was my fault.   I guess it was sort of implied.   No one every told me I was not responsible for someone else’s behavior.

Although I am no responsible for his behavior I know, looking back of course, that I could have tried not to play into his games and probably felt more peaceful.  By nature I am a very emotional person and staying disconnected from situations is not easy for me.   However, some of the stress we went through was stuff he owned, not me.

He was stressed because it was the close of his business year and in sales every month is important.   We often spent time with his mother during the Holidays and I know he has some weird love-hate relationship going on with her.   He also felt this was a great time to drink and he did not drink at home when I lived there which meant he was really eager to get back out to the bar with his drinking buddies.   We also spent too much money preparing for the holidays which was another added stress.

Our Thanksgiving holidays were often spent with his side of the family and that meant football and lots of drinking.  The men typically drank and watched football, the women were up at the crack of dawn cooking.    We usually did not spend the night and he was usually too drunk to drive when we left.  So I would sit staring out the window in anger like it really mattered to him.

Anyway, all I realize here was I took on more stress than I needed to do while living with him.  His emotions, anger, frustration and attitude were his own.  I did not need to own his frustrations.  To even become partially good at this I had to be more aware when he was baiting me into an argument.

I remember one time he said, “Oh, I really don’t care about [whatever], I just like seeing you get upset.”

If you are still with your abuser and/or alcoholic, try your best to separate his emotions from your own.   However, do protect yourself because it seems this can be a good time of year to have an excuse for bad behavior.

  • Create a backup plan, perhaps a family member or friend you could go to if things get too bad
  • You do not have to own their stress, it belongs to them
  • You cannot make another person angry
  • You cannot make another person drink more or less
  • You cannot prevent someone from becoming angry
  • You cannot control any behaviors from another person
  • You can contribute to the situation, negatively or positively

Today I am living with a wonderful man who enjoys family time, playing Christmas music, decorating the tree and not arguing.  Sure he can have his moments of anger just like I do.  However it is still a struggle for me today to not own his emotions.   We also save money every month, all year long, so we have cash to spend during the Holidays without dipping into savings or using our credit cards.  My current husband is a completely different man than my ex-husband.  I know these things would have never been possible with my ex-husband because it takes two people, not one.

I hope this helps anyone out during this holiday season.


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