A few of the lyrics in the song “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, include, “You better watch out, you better not cry” and “He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows if you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness sake!” At Christmas time, I am pondering how I interpreted those words as a little girl being sexually abused.
The songs that we hear at Christmas time are among many messages we receive as children that could have been misinterpreted and confusing. What does it mean if I am seen awake and not sleeping? Am I bad if I cry? Am I a bad girl because I’m being sexually abused or am I good because I am chosen and special? I thought being abused was love and that I was supposed to smile, keep secrets, and bare it so I could be accepted by Santa as “good.”
Abused children have damaged thinking processes. The constant confusion the above Santa song brought up in me was that Santa is similar to God and expects the same “perfect” behavior. God sees me when I am sleeping and he knows when I am awake.
What are we teaching our kids to believe? What do we attach to the messages we are given as children? I was told Santa loves me and God loves me and my abuser told me he loved me. I was being taught mixed message about love. Am I loved when I get a gift? Am I loved when I don’t cry? Am I loved when I don’t tell a secret? Am I loved when someone uses my body?
I hear people frequently ask, ‘What is the true meaning of Christmas?’ In this season of Christmas, know that the true meaning is love. I am still figuring out what love really means. How does one untangle the false messages we have received as children about love? When we say love, what meanings are we truly attaching to it? If God loves me and I am supposed to love others as myself, but I actually don’t love myself and don’t believe God loves me, what am I to do?
I am continually discovering the true meaning of the word love. I have to undo some of my thinking. I have decided to open up my mind, be willing to cry and grieve the loss of what I thought love was. I am ready to talk about hard things out loud, step into the uncomfortable reality of what true love is, start to feel, and love myself so I can love others well.
LOVE. A four letter word that takes a lifetime to understand and can be given and received all year round. The journey to that understanding is an adventure. I know I am loved. I know you are loved. We are a treasure and a pearl.