Thanksgiving Day for the Abused Woman
Holidays can be a depressing and stressful time of year due to unrealistic expectations, too many or too few commitments, difficult family relationships, or money troubles. Domestic abuse can intensify during these occasions because of increased stress or a reduction in inhibitions as a result of excessive drinking or drug abuse.
Plan ahead, seek support from family members and friends who are safe, learn to say no, and manage your stress.
Avoid situations or family members where a conflict is likely to occur. Maintain healthy habits and get enough rest and exercise. Don’t use the holiday as an excuse to overindulge in too many sweets or alcohol. If you consistently misuse these substances to help you cope with the abuse, you will only feel much worse afterwards, and it may affect your ability to sleep well, putting you at risk of diabetes. Over-consumption of sugar may contribute to depression and anxiety, as it triggers imbalances in certain chemicals in the brain.
Thanksgiving, a public holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November, originated as a harvest festival in the fall of 1621 by the English colonists, called Pilgrims, and members of the Wampanoag tribe at Plymouth, Massachusetts. The custom in England was to celebrate the fall harvest with a festival, a tradition that survived the arduous Mayflower voyage to the New World.
It was an occasion for religious observance for many years. President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving to be a legal national holiday in 1863 during the civil war. At that time, turkey became the meal of choice. By the beginning of the 1900s, the holiday was used by many people to give thanks for what they have and to teach children about American freedom. Thanksgiving has become a time for family reunions, a calorie-laden meal, turkey runs, parades, and the headaches of dealing with heavy travel congestion.
It may be very difficult to feel gratitude while being abused by someone who should love and cherish you as his wife and the mother of his children. Even in a time of crisis, maintaining a perspective of gratitude for what you do have will make your life a lot easier. It will help to ease the pain and is a great practice to maintain throughout your life.
You may want to discuss the fact that you are actively practicing gratitude daily with your children and ask them to do the same thing. It will make a great discussion over the dinner table if each of you describes something for which you are grateful. It may be as simple as for spending quality time with your children, your health, a beloved pet, or a steaming cup of coffee while enjoying the sunlight hit your kitchen window in the morning.
A really good life is made up of many precious little moments such as these.
A complementary process is to do something thoughtful or generous for someone else who may not be as lucky as you are. This could be as simple as holding the door open for someone or giving a dollar to a homeless person and telling that individual that you hope his or her luck changes. Consider volunteering a couple of hours at a soup kitchen with your children over Thanksgiving weekend. It will make all of you feel better to help someone, and it will make that person feel better, too. It is empowering and raises our self-esteem when we realize that what we do and say matters to other people.
Remember how important you are to your children, family, friends, and colleagues. Thank you for all that you do.
For more insight and tips on how to manage stress during this holiday season, please see our other, additional articles “Manage the Stress of Abuse and Divorce” and “Therapy for Stress and Healing,” visit the full resource library. Breaking Bonds is specifically dedicated to providing free resources and articles for the abused woman contemplating or who has filed for divorce.
Breaking Bonds is dedicated to your specific needs as an abused woman, and we offer free holistic support as well as practical guidance to help you through this difficult time. Download the free 11 STEP PREP Guide here to get started, and check out our full list of resources for complete support during the process of your divorce. We are with you.