How do you get through the holidays remaining safe and sane, especially in situations that
a) trigger memories of trauma or abuse?
b) involve dealing with people who have hurt or abused you?
c) have to transition your kids to an abuser OR won’t have your kids on the holidays?

Post your tips, strategies and encouragements here.

Dealing with Painful Memories:

*The holidays are what YOU make it–don’t worry about making elaborate meals or spending the last of your money on gifts or other stressors, take care of yourself and your priorities. Be creative and willing to try new things
* Join a support group or have a plan to call a trusted friend or family member
* Anxiety, depression, and post traumatic stress will grip you and then it’s hard to rebound. Make a plan for difficult times–this may includ ways to lift your mood, support systems, ways to cope with stressors and emergency numbers
* If the holidays are difficult, don’t push yorself or make changes at this time. Don’t work longer hours or force yourself to endure hectic shopping. Give yourself some TLC
*Take time to do something you enjoy

Dealing with People Who Have Hurt or Abused You:

*Choose not to be around certain people OR if you have to be around them, make a plan (ie: having someone there for support, setting a time limit or being firm with boundaries are some ideas)
*What do you want for the holidays? What do you cherish about your family time? Focus on what is important to you, and stand for it. Nasty people don’t have to ruin your holidays!
*Find a support group or make plans to be with friends or family members who offer love and encouragement
* Set very clear boundaries. You have the power to say “yes” or “no” to what feels right to you
* One book I found that was helpful is “Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy & Reclaiming Your Life” by Dr. Susan Forward

Transferring Children to an Abuser:

* Have someone with you OR If you can’t have someone come with, maintan contact with another person on a cell phone so you can confirm you arrived safely
* Conduct exchanges in a public location or police station. Stand near a location with at least 2 exits. Stand in front of security cameras. Stand as close as possible to a receptionist, cashier, security guard or other safe person
* Keep a notebook to record the dates and times the exchange happened, note anything unusual or if the other party is late (etc)
* Get the kids in/out as quick as possible (My abuser would manipulate the kids at exchanges. One time he promised to take my son to a toy store so my son cried and threw a fit bc he didn’t want to go home with me. My abuser later went to court and said I am a bad mom, and my kids don’t want to be with me…that’s part if the reason the notebook is important)
Say your good-byes to your kids BEFORE getting to the exchange location

K wrote a previous post on how to cope with holidays when you don’t have your kids:

Blessings, Evanlee, 2009.