The festive season is an exciting time of year. However, for many, the festive season comes with overwhelming anxiety, possible depression, and re-surfaced feelings of guilt, anger, shame, and unworthy.
For sexual trauma survivors, spending Christmas with family or friends that you haven’t seen in a while, the anxiety-inducing questions are often bound to come.
“So, have you got a boyfriend yet?”
“Are we going to be expecting a new member of the family next year?”
“So, where’s your boyfriend?”
“What have you done this year?”
“Why do you look so sad and moody? it’s Christmas!”
The truth is, these questions often come from the goodness of their hearts, but whether you’re a sexual trauma survivor or not, it can cause anxiety.
Question's like these can be extremely triggering as they can often re-surface memories and and feelings, and even for those who haven't experienced sexual trauma it can be extremely distressing.
Surviving sexual trauma can lead to lack of sex drive, attraction to others, lack of motivation, and even mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
Therefore, these questions are bound to resurface difficult feelings. Which means, many survivors have to really dig deep to find the motivation to feel festive and excited for the festive season.
There is so much pressure to be festive, to “appear” excited, and to do all of the festive activities, but it’s about time that we removed this pressure and let people be as festive or as not-so-festive as they like.
You have been through something so difficult in which you fight every single day. You do not have to put on a “brave face” or get involved with all the festivities when all you want to do is sit at home and watch movies.
The festive time is "supposed" to be a joyful time, but that doesn’t mean you have to be joyful all the time or be joyful in the society-expected way.
You deserve to spend the festive season in the way that brings you the most joy and you shouldn’t be made to feel guilty for that.
But... at the same time, you do deserve to feel the joy with others, shutting yourself off isn't always the most useful way to cope. You do deserve to spend it with family and friends that love you and bring you joy.
If the questions come, let them, remember you do not need to provide an answer. Christmas isn't an interrogation...
Simply say something along the lines of...
"It's Christmas I don't want to talk about that"
"I am just happy to spend Christmas with family"
"The people I love are all right here"
Don't apologise for it, you don't have to!
Enjoy the festive season in your way!