November for many is a time of shadow work for releasing trauma and forgiving those that do not request our forgiveness. It is true that those that have hurt us the most deeply will most likely go on with their life and the I am sorry you require to heal just is not coming. So, you have to figure out how to heal without any sort of closure. This story is possibly very triggering, but some stories have to be shared. The thing is, two of my family members were physically hurt badly for years, and I was not. However, because I was not physically hit or punched, I did experience a level of unkindness and possibly cruelty that I rarely, if ever discuss. I remember from the age of four being told by my father that I was unwanted. I share one of my deepest holiday traumas today because in telling a thing, you loosen its hold on you. His death this year has allowed me to do deep shadow work.
Every Christmas I just prayed December 26 would hurry up because there were always arguments and tears. Inside the house was painful and outside the house was a day of fake happiness that I just hated as a child. As I became a teenager I just became numb to it and made sure everyone had a gift and prayed that was enough just to be left alone until it was all over. Here is the story that started my general fear of Christmas. I fear it the way some fear spiders.
When I was seven, my father got really drunk, he had been out all Christmas eve and nobody knew where he had been. He suddenly appears Christmas morning I was told all our Christmas presents were going to better children, poorer children that deserved the presents. I opened the presents around 8 am and I remember feeling detached like these won´t belong to me very long... like I knew what was about to happen... by 10:00 those presents were in bags and headed off to the other family. My mother backed my father and I remember she said what good Christians we are, how Jesus would be proud of us. I decided that day, I was not particularly fond of Jesus. He was always telling my parents I did not deserve nice things. There were always small events in my childhood where if I asked for anything at all, Jesus would somehow be brought into it and the end result was I was not getting what I asked for. When I was losing something in my life it was always ¨because Jesus wants it that way.¨ I remember once we had our water cut off and I turned to my mother and said ¨If you blame Jesus I will scream, I´m pretty sure this has nothing to do with him.¨
Years later, I understood that my father probably fell victim to a drunken pre-Christmas poker game and lost badly so he did not have money to pay up... so he gave the man´s children all our gifts. My mother said oh at least we still have the tree. I felt that day and every Christmas forward that the holiday was a bad play I had to take part in and be on stage until I was allowed to go to sleep. I have done a lot of healing over this incident, but every year, the memory finds me, I cry and raise a glass to the children that are playing their part, just trying to survive until they can leave home, this is not a condemnation of what happened exactly, but I figure I have a choice, stay bitter or try to have some sort of forgiveness and mercy.
I forgive the people that looked the other way, I forgive myself for not being a good Christian and not being ok with no Christmas presents at the age of seven. I empathize with my mother, if the same happened to my child, I probably would spin it as charity and push it to the realm of fantasy, swearing that my child made it up. My mother swears this never happened. I don´t remember much from my childhood but I remember every moment of that day and know that it did happen. The trauma wasn´t so much the action as it was the invalidating of feelings. How dare children be upset that there were but now aren´t any gifts? What nasty ungrateful children! If you don´t smile about what you lost we shall do this to you every year until you are good Christians who are humble! That quote I definitely will not ever forget.
So what is the point? Why talk about this? I seek no sympathy, I just feel it is a story that I need to release because it is time to forgive and say that, yes I have empathy for my father. I am sure whatever drove him to do it was beyond my comprehension as a small child and If I show him mercy, maybe I can free myself this year and finally this year just have a normal day that does not feel surreal. I am in the right country for it, luckily for me, in The Netherlands gifts are given to children earlier in December for Saint Nicholas, and Christmas is mostly just going to church, having a good meal, and small gifts of appreciation. Another great tradition is our Christmas Day walk and watching a tv show where families are reunited for the holiday after many years apart. Every year it gets a little easier and with my father´s death this year, I know there are no more chances to talk about it so it is a story that lives in my memories.
I say all of this to say, don´t let one day or one person or one memory determine your ability to be happy. If you have a heavy memory holding you down, do your best to loosen the hold and find a way to let the story lose its' power over you. I am trying to let it go, but I have decided long ago this memory cannot ruin every Christmas I have until I die. I guess now you know part of the reason I try to create content that is happy and uplifting. When you know what the dark feels like, you want to shine a light for people so they don´t fall back in the darkness and live there. It is important to do the work; but to anyone who accuses me of spiritual bypassing, all I can say is, these shadows live with me, we are old friends. I address them as they come up and then tell them now it is time to try to focus on the light until it´s time to do the shadow work again.
Have mercy for who you were when the bad memory happened, have empathy for the person who can´t or won´t say sorry, and release yourself from the burden or weight of the memory. It won´t happen overnight. I pulled a card for this blog before I started, the card says Miao Shan, the Princess of Mercy.
Image source: The Divine Feminine Oracle by Meggan Watterson
This Chinese princess of the Tang dynasty is a magical being who could not be killed and everything she touched was beautiful. She showed mercy to her father the king who tried to kill her and when he was dying she brought him back to life. I honestly don´t know if I could ever be like her and show that level of mercy, after all, he tried to have her executed by the sword for not marrying the man he chose for her. Thank goodness a white tiger came and saved her. I really was planning on channeling her, but she said me telling this story was more important. I don´t know, I think her story is more interesting. Under ¨Ẅhen Your Soul selects this card¨ in the oracle guide it says :
¨Author Sue Monk Kidd articulates the process of empathy when she says Empathy is the most mysterious transaction that the human soul can have, and is accessible to us all, but we have to give ourselves the opportunity to identify, to plunge ourselves into a story where we see the world from the bottom up or through another´s eyes or heart. Empathy is mercy´s twin sister, when we can feel into the reality of someone else´s suffering we are open to the possibility of mercy... it can feel easy or even natural to have compassion for people who have never harmed us personally, but mercy is having compassion for someone who has....the law of the universe is merciful...the more we give the more we receive... We are not harming the person who harmed us by remaining angry... we are keeping ourselves from receiving the love and light that is already ours¨.
Does that card resonate? I say that you should give mercy only if you are ready. It has no power or use to you otherwise. It has no strength if it doesn´t come from a place of authenticity. Also, don't take it to an extreme the way my parents did. I guess that is what life is all about, avoiding extremes and trying to live authentically with some sort of mercy and empathy. Maybe I will come back to the energy of Princess Miao Shin one day, after all, she is an aspect of Quan Yin and you know I love Quan Yin. I suppose if she can forgive her father for trying to run her through with a sword, crappy Christmases should be easier to release? Sorry, bad attempt at humor...
If you need help releasing any stories similar to mine, reach out and book a session, I love helping people help themselves to release anxiety and trauma. After all, we are all here to help one another.
Here is the affirmation that comes in the guidebook:
Giving is Receiving.
The energy of the universe is merciful.
Who can I give mercy to in this moment?
May you find a path to mercy and forgiveness when needed,