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Christmas trauma

Community Member


I know for some people this is a great time of year but for me that is not the case. For me it is not as it trigger for my PTSD and although hate is a strong word it is the only word I can think of.

Growing up it was just an excuse for the men (fathers family) to get drunk and treat the women as second class citizens. The men drank and the women work and there were often fights and jealousy between brothers, sisters and cousins. As the eldest grandchild there was an expectation on me that due to constant physical abuse I could not cope with.

I will be with my mum, stepfather and a friendly uncle this year but unfortunately my stepfather is extremely jealous of anyone who spends time with mum especially me. He is belittling and emotionally abusive and although I am better at not letting it get to me it does from time to time. In fact a few years ago I was so close to lashing out but I didn't and for that I am very proud of myself.

He once said to me "there is someone in MY house I wish wasn't here" obviously meaning me. Unfortunately that is the price I have to pay to see my mum. I know she wants out but due to his health and age she feels an obligation.

To those of you that enjoy this time of year "Merry Christmas"

11 Replies 11

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Dear BOC64

Hello. I am so sad that you have endured these hurtful events in your life. Growing up in those circumstances must have been very difficult. I congratulate you on on working through these events and refusing to give in to abuse. I'm sure it has not been easy.

You must love your mom very much to put up with this. It seems a pity mom cannot bring herself to to leave your stepfather who is causing you and mom so much pain. Sometime we need to look after ourselves first and if this means walking away from a relationship where the other person has poor health it's OK. I feel sad your mom feels she cannot leave to care for herself and you.

May I ask how old you are? I take it you are not at school and perhaps do not live permanently with your mom and stepfather. If that is the case perhaps your mom could come to stay with you for a while and see how she feels about it.

I know Christmas is one of those seasons that can be joyful for some and very distressing for others. Do you get on well enough with your friendly uncle to spend time with him when you are not with mom? It may take you out of the firing range of your stepfather. Does this uncle defend you when stepdad gets abusive? I can quite see why Christmas is not a happy time for you.

Are you receiving help for your PTSD? I do hope so. It's a huge burden to carry on your own. Please continue to post in here. We are always here though not necessarily able to offer immediate help.


Community Champion
Community Champion


Thanks for writing your post so honestly.

Mary has written a very suppoprtive and helpful post and I agree with her comments so I will not repeat them.

I was wondering whether your mum can meet you outside her place and without your stepfather.

Do you have any brothers or sisters and if you do, do you get along with them, so you could spend Christmas with them.?


Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hello BOC64, I know that Xmas isn't the best time for many people simply for the reason you have described and perhaps something else could be organised, such as celebrating Xmas with your mum and even the friendly uncle on Xmas eve, rather than the actual day.

My wife's family had a tendency to celebrate on that day, we all enjoyed ourselves, far different than the next day when there were times disagreements occurred and the 'pecking order' was given a shake, which many didn't agree with.

Leave your step father out and then he won't be involved.

I hope you find this may suit you much better and please let us know what happens.

Best wishes.


Community Member
Hi Mary, Geoff and Quirky

Thank you for your kind words and advice.
I am 55 divorced and have a beautiful 21 year old daughter. Sadly I will not see my daughter until late February as she is overseas.

I was close to my brother and sister but sadly this is no longer the case for a number of reasons. Some of these were through my actions and some due to their spouses.

I have had psychological treatment here and there over the years with mixed success. This has included hospitalisation twice.

I will persevere this year as best I can as it maybe his last but I need a long term plan. I will let my uncle know as well that something may trigger me and help me relax. I would like to hear about you and how you cope.

Thank you for thinking of me and Merry Christmas to you.


Hello BOC

My depression started many years ago and was dreadful. I got through it because I am stubborn and because I had some wonderful support. It wasn't easy.

Once in a while it comes back to bite me and I have fallen in a heap on several occasions. For me the trick is to remember that I have done this in the past and got up again. Each time I learn more about myself and get a bit stronger. I retired in 2008 and thought I would have a quiet life. Instead I became involved in all sorts of activities and organisations, all of which I enjoyed and would not change. My wonderful GP who looks after my mental health has been such a rock. I have told her she is not allowed to retire until I have no need of a GP. I think she laughed and said good luck to that. It's lovely that we can talk and laugh about issues. When I laugh it puts much of the world in proportion.

Being hospital for mental health issues is not fun. I spent a week in hospital after I started to see a psychiatrist. I think I really hit rock bottom and had no idea what to do. That week gave me peace and an opportunity to regain myself. There were times when I wanted to go back there because it represented security but it did not happen. Sooner or later I had to learn to stand on my own two feet.

I believe regular mental health help is very important. Not every week but to see someone who knows you and who you can call on in those dark days we all have. Perhaps a regular catchup every two or three months? It's a good way to make your plans for the future and have help available when things go amiss. No matter how well we plan there is always the potential for something to mess up our plans.

Glad you are going to speak to your uncle. Having someone to step in occasionally is good. I read a lot including psychology books. Some of the self help books are good though I found some are obvious and trite. I suppose it depends on your needs what is helpful.

My family are very supportive of me plus I did not have a childhood like yours. Christmas was always a precious time. Sadly my mom died on Christmas Day 20 years ago in the UK and I was not able to say goodbye. It's one of my big regrets. I find my best help through meditation and my faith. Unfortunately it does not mean a trouble free life. For me this is the help I need. I have stopped running away from help. The "I do not want to burden others" routine which I think we all use now and then. I take help when it is offered.

Hope that helps.


Community Member
Hi Mary

I was sorry to hear about your mum. Although I am glad you have a very good and supportive GP.

I am at my mum's still and not coping very well but I get away to my room and watch the cricket or Netflix.

Yesterday was difficult but getting away from him is helping slightly.

Although I know that my mum will be disappointed but I will have to go home tomorrow for a few days at least.

Thank you and take care


Community Member

It is almost Christmas again and I am starting to feel the anxiety of it all.

As I mentioned last year it is not a pleasant time for me and when I tell others I dislike Christmas they look at me as some kind of freak.

I would actually prefer to be alone and treat it like any other day but my very loving mum will never allow that. I do enjoy spending that time with mum but my stepfather seems to find way of triggering my trauma or anxiety.

I am however hoping that this year I can cope better as I have been working with a wonderful psychologist.

If you do celebrate Christmas I hope that this year it is a special one for you given the year we have had.

Community Member


You're not alone. I'm noticing comments about christmas anxiety on my fb feed, and other threads in BB. Your christmas plans sound inevitably awful- is there anywhere you can get away to during your visit? Friends maybe? It's an awful time of year for some of us, many people get frantic and have too many engagements, others have too few. Some have awful family dynamics (me!) and it's just a time of year with so many expectations.

I've decided to be a voice in the wilderness for moderation. Love not presents and stuff. Not too much expectation. What will be will be.

I get anxious as my family is... strange. My mum likes to pretend at christmas that everything is fine, and that our year of dysfuncyional family non-celebrations are completely normal and there's no reason we shouldn't all want to get together for Christmas, because it's Christmas! As if the word is enough to heal all divisions!

So I don't know what's happening for us this Christmas. Luckily I live close enough that I can reduce my exposure as needed, which doesn't sound like the case for you. Your stepfather sounds horrible and I can guess that if you challenge him on it, it will just cause friction. I'm glad you have your mum, maybe you and she can plan some special outings which will make the time pass more pleasantly.



Community Member

Hi J*

Thank you for your kind words and sharing your own experiences as it does help.

I hope this period is as pleasant as possible for you also.

Best wishes