“Christmas time is here, happiness and cheer…”
So many of my life goals are here in the present, achieved and being enjoyed. The problem is trauma and grief are also here, my unwelcome guests. As a little girl I didn’t grow up thinking I’d be a young widow. The idea of having my kids by more than one man didn’t even enter my mind. I didn’t know miscarriage would be part of my story or that my children would grow up without knowing their Grandpa White. I didn’t think I’d have to help my kids learn to grieve the loss of their daddy before any smaller griefs. I assumed I’d have simple, ordinary, easy, yet still wonderful.
I was given a life seemingly out of a novel, not a fairy tale. Life wasn’t tidy or wrapped up with a bow. I don’t suddenly wake up one day and have my problems solved. The joy of my life now can never erase the pain of what I’ve been through. There is no narration of “…and she lived happily ever after.”
The trauma is triggered in times of great stress. I don’t want it to be like that but it’s not like I can flip a switch to turn it off. When the kids are fighting non-stop, the baby is fussing, and there’s dinner to be made all at the same time it can be too much. I get overwhelmed. My mind might be in the present but my body is stuck in the chaos and helplessness I felt in the past. My body remembers being a solo parent to two preschoolers and knowing there was no help coming.
The holidays are meant to be a happy time. Unfortunately we put so much stress on doing it all perfectly that it places quite the burden on adults. Buy the right presents, wrap them, cook, bake, and clean house. Take children to a million and one activities. Spend time with family and try not to be late. Go to church and get caught up in making sure everyone is wearing their holiday best. This would be enough pressure to make any normal parent crack… but for a mama living with PTSD/chronic pain/chronic fatigue it’s nearly unbearable. It can be hard to feel the joy when you’re spinning too many plates. It can be easy to lose sight of the why behind it all.
Christ came in the form of a helpless baby, born to a poor Jewish couple in their occupied nation. He humbled himself to live as we live. The Creator lowered himself to be as the creation. Then as if that were not enough, He allowed himself to suffer and die at the hands of human authority. What was meant for evil, though, was used for good. His death and resurrection made the Creator accessible to unworthy people. Redemption was put within human reach. If that’s not a reason to celebrate, nothing else is.
Praise our Lord, who gave himself for us.