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Permission to be real Seriously, 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

With 22 years experience as a marriage and family therapist, Dr. Sheri specializes in individual, couples and family therapy at her private practice. She believes in looking at issues from a psychological, biological and spiritual perspective. She's the author of "Intimate Deception: Healing the Wounds of Sexual Betrayal," founder of the BraveOne Community and the Bravery After Betrayal Retreat... Continue Reading