As a girl it was desperately important to me to have the holidays go as they were “supposed to.” I wanted all our family with me, all our traditions intact, and I would dissolve into tears if things weren’t just right. Oddly, they were tears of grief, not frustration, as if something precious had been lost, never to be recovered. The happiest times in my life revolved around those traditions and when something upset them I felt the loss deeply.
I wanted to preserve and remember every joyous moment. I wrote copiously in my journal documenting everything and when I got a camera I snapped away capturing brothers, cousins and friends in our mirth and jollity. And I collected water every New Year’s Eve. That’s right. Water. Heaven only knows where that idea sprouted from, but every year just before midnight I would fill one of Mum’s empty jars with water from that year, seal it, label it carefully and set it on a shelf in my room. I was a funny little creature. 🙂
Safe in the cocoon of my family the holidays were beautiful, chock full of happy traditions that we all love to this day. But then I grew up, left home and life happened. There were beautiful moments, yes, lots of them, but also searing pain that made the hurt of a missed tradition seem like Christmas in comparison.
As a teenager I found myself in a religious cult masquerading as a Christian ministry. They promised to provide a home-away-from-home where we could safely be trained in all sorts of good things. They lied. The years that followed are mostly a blank to me now, punctuated by memories of abuse, neglect and brain-washing. When my parents realized what was happening – they’d been lied to as well – they were horrified and did everything they could to protect and restore my shattered heart and body.
For years I couldn’t face what happened there, but three years ago I couldn’t hide from it anymore and it hit me like a tidal wave. The time since then has been one of deepest darkness for me, mind-numbing pain, incapacitating fear, and boiling rage towards God and my abusers. I wanted desperately to just die but something inside wouldn’t let me. I couldn’t let the bad guys win.
So I fought back, trying to find something beautiful each day to delight in – fairy lights, a good book, herb garden, new song, and wonderful food. I found safe friends, safe family who loved me, cried with me, and told me I was going to be OK. That I was OK. I realized that God is Love and Love is God, and I stopped feeling guilty for despising the Old God. He was despicable.
My brave friend and fellow cult survivor Trish encouraged me to write, to blog. I couldn’t for a while, I was too scared, my emotions too raw, but one day, just when I needed it, the bravery came. I started this little blog, ramblingtart, and began to write, and write, and write. I met other bloggers and as I read and as I wrote my heart expanded and I saw that life really was beautiful, hopeful, and happy again.
I wasn’t in the darkness anymore.
So this New Year’s Eve I abandoned all tradition. No party, no cork-popping at midnight, just me, my folks, Brit murder mysteries and comfort food. It was perfect. 🙂
Mums and I made Poutine – our favoritest Canadian comfort food of all time: French fries topped with mozzarella cheese, beef gravy and LOTS of black pepper. AMAZING! 🙂 Pops brought us “bubble water” aka – Perrier- Eggnog, Salt and Vinegar chips, and German Chocolate Little Debbie cookies. 🙂 We got cozy under quilts and watched Inspector Lynley mysteries until we were too tired to stay up any longer. Then we hugged good bye, I drove home, sat in my bed and wrote by fairy light, tears streaming down my smiling face as I reflected on this horrible, beautiful year.
Happiest of New Year’s, dear ones! May this year be filled with love, beauty and sunshine. I love you all. 🙂