Your holidays may not be perfect this year, but you can still enjoy them!
Anticipating your first holidays after your divorce (or separation) is horrible. Everywhere you look there are reminders that this is a time for families to be together.
But that's not true for you. You won't ever have your family together again - at least not like it was. You won't always be able to spend the holidays with your kids because now you'll be taking turns with your ex.
And yet the holidays can still be magical for you. It will just take a bit of effort and a shift or two in perspective.
Look, I didn't believe my first holidays post-divorce would be anything but horrible either. I was wrong though. I wound up having a great holiday season and here are the three things I did to take the horrible out of my holidays.
- Accept the invitations (at least some of them) from your friends and extended family. I thought I would be alone and forgotten for the holidays because I felt completely forgettable. On the other hand, I didn't want to have a bunch of pity invitations either. But my friends and family reached out to me and showered me with loving invitations to join them for their celebrations.
You might be surprised by how much your friends and family will reach out to you during the holidays. You'll probably even have fun if you're brave enough to say "Yes" to their invitations.
- Be thankful. Yeah, this one was hard for me at first. I was so miserable that I wasn't sure there was much of anything to be thankful for.
But there was a whole lot to be thankful for: being alive and the love and friendship surrounding me were at the top of my list.
Now, when I look back I'm actually thankful for my divorce. Without it I don't know if I could have developed the courage or the strong sense of self I have today.
Being thankful might be especially tough for you soon after your divorce especially if you're not with their children. But be thankful for what is even though it's different. Your gratitude will help you to make it through the holidays instead of being stuck in the misery of missing what was.
- Be gentle with yourself. The first year or so after my divorce I was extremely impatient with myself. I kept thinking I should have healed more quickly from my divorce and didn't want to give myself any more time to grieve.
I discovered I couldn't rush through my healing by accepting every single invitation that came my way - no matter how much I thought I should be able to. I still needed time to process all of the changes instead of keeping myself too busy to feel what I needed to feel.
So, if the holiday season starts to move a little fast for you (or if you find yourself pushing yourself into a frazzle), it's OK to slow things down and nurture yourself. Just keep in mind that nurturing is way different from throwing yourself a pity party. And when you're done taking care of yourself, join back in the festivities.
Following these 3 tips won't make your holidays perfect. They also won't fill the hole in your heart that not being with your kids creates. But these tips will help you to have a happier holiday season than you might at first believe is possible.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re ready to take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.