Making it Through Celebrations
Happy, and On Your Own Terms
One of the most harrowing twists and turns of the emotional roller coaster ride called separation and divorce is the first year of celebrating the holidays uncoupled. In fact, there is so much uncertainty and fear over this time that some would rather skip it altogether.
We often put ourselves under incredible pressure to celebrate holidays the traditional route and often times, it just isn’t possible. To cap it off, we don’t necessarily want to go that route, but feel societal pressure to fit in. Christmas, New Year’s, Easter, Passover, Valentines Day, our birthday, and the various other special days, can wreak havoc with our emotions especially if we find ourselves alone. While some of these holidays have religious significance others seem to be just a reason for a Hallmark card, yet we feel anxious to partake and be like everyone else.
Who says you have to celebrate those days the traditional route or the way you celebrated when you were married? If you find yourself alone, create new meaning for these celebrations and enjoy them on your own terms. Here are some tips to get you through these celebrations.
Here are tips to help you get through the holidays if you find yourself in this situation.
- Create new traditions. If the old traditions are too painful to follow, let them go. Instead of trying to re-create the past, create your own positive future.
- Throw your own party and invite friends or family who have nowhere to go during this time.
- Make a special effort to take care of yourself physically and emotionally. Don’t try drowning your sorrows with alcohol or food. Doing anything to excess when you are sad or worried is rarely a smart move.
- Be good to yourself. Go for a manicure or massage, buy a great CD, catch up on your favorite hobby. Treat yourself the way you would treat a good friend or family member.
- If you are feeling overwhelmed and vulnerable, speak with a trusted friend, therapist or someone in your support group.
- Plan ahead. If it looks like you’re going to be spending the time on your own, find an interesting activity or a place to travel so you can be with other people.
- Surround yourself with people, whether from your support network, your family, your church or synagogue. You may even be able to attend a special support group holiday function.
- Contemplate how you would like your life to look like post-divorce and write down what you need to do to get there. Start doing one of those things now.
- Stay in control by making lists of what you need to do and checking each item off as you accomplish it.
- Use any time alone to do the things you’ve been putting off — catching up on paperwork; catching up on sleep; reading the great book that’s been sitting unopened for weeks or months; calling the friend you’ve been meaning to reconnect with.
- If putting on a dinner or party in the family home doesn’t feel right, try doing something for others off site. For example, you could visit a retirement home and read to those whose families can’t be with them during the holidays.
- Continue to make the holidays special for your children. Include them in developing new traditions. Ask them how they would like to celebrate.
- Plan ahead how your children are going to spend the holidays. Avoid the stress of figuring things out last minute. This will give you a sense of comfort, relief and control.
- Be creative and flexible. If your children are not celebrating the holidays with you, think about making another day during holiday time a special day together.
- If your children are going to be with their other parent, phone them and wish them a happy holiday. Let them know that you are thinking about them.
- Don’t make your children feel that they have to take care of you during this special time. Send them the message that the holidays are a special time and you want them to enjoy themselves.
- Spare the occasional good thought for your ex. Your marriage likely had some good moments. Remembering those times occasionally will help you lift yourself out of your bitterness about your current situation.
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