Because I left Domestic Violence Blessing number 5,527: The Tree
Victim and Survival Mindsets are very dangerous for Christmas Trees.
What in the world am I talking about?
Ok, ok, We are jumping in:
How many of you set up a Christmas tree?
How many of you have traditions around this activity?
Do you involve the family, snap a few pictures, and sit in the glow of all the pinpoints of light? Yes, I do as well. However, there was an event on November 28, 2006, which caused us to leave our tree, our lights, our stockings—everything behind. That was the night we escaped the abyss of abuse.
When we left, I told myself, I would never see these things again. I would have to re-sew all the stockings, I would gather new ornaments, and I would somehow replace my grandmother’s tree and her nativity scene. The priority was escaping, but my heart tugged at the loss for those next three weeks of being homeless stayed strong, and didn’t let my kids see the pain—they needed someone to anchor onto.
Long story short (you can read the rest in my book Pinpoints of Light), eventually, for Christmas of 2006, we gained a tree again. So, why do I share this story? This experience impacted me. In my victimhood, setting up the Tree meant all was stable—we wouldn’t have to move. We had established safety and victory.
But there was a minor flaw in this way of thinking. My mindset was still in the victim mode, which told me this story: if the tree is up, then all is well—that nothing will go wrong. What do you think happened when things went wrong? I would blame others, or worse, listen to the Shame Shadow and blame myself. The only parties I knew how to throw were pity parties. Pathetic! I might as well have burned down the tree.
Thankfully, I became aware of this mindset and shifted to a survivor mindset. Well, this was better, but by how much? I found myself making plans for disasters: if I ran out of gas, I could walk 1 mile with the kids for help. If I only had WIC coupons, I could make that work for one week, etc. My mind was set on surviving.
I showed off my strength and bragged about all of these things often. It was ridiculous, but that’s where I was. When I put up the Tree in 2017, I thought about our upcoming trip to Utah and that we would spend all the money just traveling there, and that the kids would only have one gift each because the rest of the gift was for the trip. I felt satisfied. Tree up meant all would be well. However, I remember talking to a fantastic friend of mine, and she said, “Are you exhausted from surviving? Don’t you want to live?”
I was shattered to my core. My identity was completely stripped away from me. (She had no idea). But it was a point of deep reflection for me, and I slipped back into my victimhood. I flew back to my comfort cage because that was familiar—pity party time! And who did I invite, old Shamey the Shame Shadow? I looked at my “charlie brown” Christmas tree and thought, am I really worth more?
My mindset could only see me, me, me again. My light was dimmed again, not from abuse, but my own mind’s lack of healing. Long story short, I looked at my Charlie Brown Christmas tree when we returned from Utah and said, I am worth more. I took responsibility for my healing at wrote my second book, Out of Darkness; Find, Fuel, and live in Your Light.
I had moved into a newer mindset. I thought of others. I wanted to help others. As I put up the brand new tree in 2020, I knew things were different. I reflected on what we could do for others. I didn’t think about us. It was such a shift. I didn’t have a backup plan. We just lived for light, for the moment, and the day. It was a huge blessing. The tree was the symbol of safety but not from things happening, but as a reminder of how far I’d come on my healing journey.
With a new move, our new tree, and a new mindset, we decorated for Christmas 2021. What was interesting this year was that as the craziness of life happened (some I have shared with you, and most I have not), the tree was still there as a symbol of stability—no matter what was happening.
The tree is the symbol of Christ and his everlasting life. I drew upon Christ this Christmas in a way that was very active. The prayers in my heart never seemed to stop and I kept giving to Christ the burdens as each one came this season. It was a whole new place. The learning zone was powerful and the wash and wave of forgiveness from actively asking for love and forgiveness Christ’s was huge for this year for me. (More reflecting on this story must take place before I am or if I am to ever share).
Let’s go back to the top:
Victim and Survival Mindsets are very dangerous for Christmas Trees. Can you see my meaning why?
Victim: I lived in fear that if anything happened, we would have to abandon everything again.
Survivor: I could not see beyond my Charlie Bown Christmas Tree and didn’t there was more—I wasn’t worth more.
Thriver: The Tree was up and gave us a symbol of safety, but we were focused on others whether it was there or not, we could get through things because we knew our worth.
Victor: The Tree was Christ. The everlasting symbol whether it was in my home or not was so much bigger than I had ever imagined before. Christ’s tree is life!
Because I left Domestic Violence Blessing number 5,527: The Tree.
As my children and I took down the tree this year and neatly folded things away, there was gratitude and thankfulness for the soft gentle light, for the symbol of love, and for the blessing of freedom and forgiveness that it was this year.
If you are stuck in a VICTIM or SURVIVOR mindset, I encourage you to join my three-day challenge to find your light and gain hope, read my books to come and find hope and healing in your life.
If you would like to reach out and help others, please join our national movement to help all who are in Domestic Violence. Click here.