Permission to be realSeriously, there’s nothing like the holidays to highlight what is real and what is really difficult.

When we’re impacted by sexual betrayal the memories we’ve known are overwhelmed by what’s staring us right in the face – P.A.I.N.

It doesn’t matter where you look….

  • Christmas tree lots cause heartache.
  • Ornaments reminding us of earlier times are too difficult to hang on the tree?
  • It hurts to see couples holding hands or laughing.
  • How do you buy a gift? What do you say in a card?
  • The season feels suspect.
  • Tears overshadow our joy.
  • Why can’t we just fast-forward into next year?

You have permission to be real.

What do you need this holiday season?

Some women need to be honest and say:

“I can’t fake it.  I’m not sure how to move through this season, but I can’t pretend.  I just want you to know that it may look different this year.”

Other women say, “I need a break from all this.  I’m going to intentionally put what has happened in a shoe-box and securely wrap ever corner and crease with duct tape.  I promise myself to open the box up again in 3 weeks.  But for now, I’m going to do my best to enjoy the season.”

While others say, “I’m taking one day at a time.  That’s the best I can do.”

What do you need to move through this month?  Here are 10 ideas that might help:

  • Spend time with people in spite of the nagging desire to go it alone.  Be around others who lift your spirits and bring your heart cheer.
  • Get outdoors if possible.  Breathe fresh air and walk.  Pumping blood through your body can help clear your mind.
  • Brighten your home or work place with a fresh pine wreath or poinsettia plant.
  • Don’t shop yourself into January bill shock.  Stay within a budget.  You will thank yourself 30 days from now.
  • Find a safe group of women who understand sexual betrayal and get what you’re going through. There’s way too much to hold inside.  Talk about your feelings.  Keeping them bottled up can mean anxiety and depression.
  • Focus on others.  Volunteer.  Wrap gifts for children of incarcerated families at Angel Tree ( or pack gift boxes for Operation Christmas Child (  Focusing on others helps us get a vacation from the pain we’re presently in.
  • Reach out for wise counsel.  We all need help when navigating life’s toughest storms.
  • Don’t compare or fantasize about others. No matter how much tinsel and glitter this holiday season offers, you really don’t know what’s going on behind the scene.   Comparison is an illusion in our mind – there are no winners.
  • Press into your faith.  Pick up the Psalms.  Some of my darkest days have found comfort in those tear stained pages.
  • Remember just because you are where you are today, doesn’t mean you’ll stay there. This may be a rough time, but you will pass through it.  Stay the course.  Time doesn’t change you, recovery does.

Giving yourself permission to be real is a gift.

Christ gets adversity.  He was born in a time of civil unrest.  His parent found sanctuary in a barn.  Jesus’ first crib – a feeding trough.

Real adversity didn’t stop Him. 

He experienced the pain of betrayal.

He stayed honest.

His plan to rescue us became the greatest hope of all time.

Wishing you the courage to be real this Christmas season,
Dr. Sheri

2 replies added

  1. Allison December 9, 2016 Reply

    Dear Dr. Sheri, Thank you so much for reminding me to be real during the Holiday Season and always truthfully. I find myself reminiscing often about the past rather than staying in the present, and that past has a lot of painful memories. I try desperately to keep that hurt wrapped in a pretty box with a fancy bow on top. Unfortunately, though, it’s during the holidays that I feel the grief, sadness, and loneliness so deeply, and that beautiful present is opened tearing my heart in two. So, for me, keeping it real this Christmas will be staying true to myself and my boys, being present for them, taking things one day at a time, and asking God for His continued love and guidance.

    • Dr. Sheri Keffer February 2, 2018 Reply

      Hi Allison,

      You are so right….and in such good company. You’re not alone. The holidays and “anniversary days” are often the toughest times. They highlight what’s missing. It’s times like this the crescendo of our grief and sadness can hit an all time high. As we feel these moments of deep loss it seems wrong that our neighbors, friends, and families don’t stop and acknowledge what’s dying on the inside, of us. When they don’t acknowledge the reality of where we’re at…it hurts. You sound very grounded as your taking one day at a time, asking God for help and “choosing what’s best for you” and “your boys.” Not pretending and being kind to yourself sound like gifts you’re giving….to you.

      Keep bravely holding on to what you need,
      Dr. Sheri

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