How to Survive the Holidays During Divorce
The holidays are upon us and even if you have started to adjust to your divorce, you may find the solid ground you thought you were standing on start to feel unsteady. Whether this is your first newly single holiday or you’ve been divorced for a while, nothing can make the past stalk you like the holidays. If you have kids and are sharing the holidays with their other parent, this time can be even more lonely and painful.
I am not going to lie to you, there is no quick and easy answer that can take away your pain.
However, there are things you can do to help you regain some holiday spirit so that you're not spending the next six weeks yearning for what was.
Make NEW Memories
The holidays are typically filled with memories and traditions. Everything from the foods that are served to who we spend time with can make you think about how things “used to be.” Instead of doing the same things and making it obvious that your former spouse is not there to do them with you anymore, shake things up! Go out to dinner instead of making it. Take a trip and celebrate the holidays with friends and/or family you normally don’t. Create a crazy holiday Olympics for your kids. There is no rule that says you must do the same things you have always done.
We all have friends or family that were a big part of our life at one point but life got busy and maybe we lost touch or we just aren’t as connected as we once were. Reach out to your college roommate, your favorite aunt, or that cousin you keep saying you’ll get together with one day. Make time to meet for coffee, drinks or dinner during the holidays. Sometimes when someone leaves our life, we have room for others to enter it.
Find an organization in your community that needs an extra pair of hands. Deliver meals to the homeless, be a bell ringer for the Salvation Army, pack care packages for our Servicemen and Women…there are always opportunities if you look for them. There is always someone else who has bigger issues than you do. If you have kids, include them! Focusing on someone else’s needs for a while means you aren’t focusing on your own pain.
Connecting with others that are going through the same things can help you feel less alone. A lot of churches offer Divorce Care groups and/or sessions on grieving around the holidays. There are several online support groups for people going through a divorce. I have a private Facebook support group for women that are divorced or are going through a divorce (link below).
Do Something Fun!
You may not be feeling fun right now. So, pick at least one activity during this holiday season that is fun and schedule it! Maybe it is something you used to enjoy as a kid, or maybe it is something you have always wanted to try and never have. Have your girlfriends over for an adult slumber party, go ice skating, go see a Christmas concert. If you have it on the calendar, you are more likely to do it. Once you are in the moment, you may surprise yourself and really enjoy it!
Make Time for YOU
The holidays are stressful even without the added stress of a divorce. Activities, expectations and demands on your time can leave you feeling depleted emotionally and physically. Make time to do something for you. Schedule a massage, manicure or pedicure. Put the kids to bed and take a candlelit bubble bath with your favorite adult beverage. Do SOMETHING that makes you feel special!
Start the New Year with a Fresh Perspective
The end of the holidays marks the start of a new year. As you say good-bye to this year and the pain that it brought you, look forward to the new year as a new chapter in your life. Spend more time focusing on the possibilities that are ahead of you than mourning what is behind you. Don’t cheat on your future with your past!
My wish for you is that you not only survive the holidays during your divorce but that you find moments of peace and happiness during this holiday season!
Hi! I’m Keri Lauderdale Olson, also known as Recovering Cinderella, www.recoveringcinderella.com. I am not a therapist (although I can probably use one) or divorce professional. I am simply a woman who has lived through divorce and wants to help support other women through their own divorces with honesty, humor and a healthy dose of reality. If you are a woman going through a divorce or if you are divorced and have some insight to share with women going through it, please join my private Facebook support group. There is a link on my website.