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Every time the holiday season comes around, I remember my first few Christmases and New Year’s Eves after my divorce.
During my separation, divorce, and for years following the divorce, the holiday season was just an awful time for me.
The agony started right after Halloween, as Christmas decorations started to appear in stores, and Christmas music began to blast everywhere I went.
I truly came to understand the expression “gut-wrenching.” I felt physically ill, and had to resort to deep breathing and sunglasses to camouflage the tears.
I’d talk to myself, silently (and sometimes not so silently) in public. I’d say to myself, “It’s okay, it’s okay, hang in there. Breathe. Thank god for sunglasses: No one can see you crying. Just hang in there a few more minutes. You’ll be back in the car soon and then you can let it all out . . . .”
Somehow, the season would have me rehashing all sorts of old memories:
What I should have done, how I should have known better, what wasn’t my fault, what I couldn’t possibly have known . . . on and on and on.
I’d reminisce about my lying, cheating ex. But in my memories, I couldn’t remember all those horrible things he’d done. I remembered shopping for the Christmas tree together, putting up decorations, making our own playlists of Christmas songs.
And the holidays post-divorce back then? Showing up to family celebrations alone. Knowing that many in my family blamed me for divorcing him. Knowing that my parents believed that no matter how badly I was treated, it was the woman’s job to sacrifice herself and endure. (Yes, in the 21st century.) Somehow, it was never the man’s fault.
And I wondered: What were the odds I could ever be happy again?
What were the chances that I’d ever end up with someone better . . . or even just someone who was not too bad? Did I even want someone if he was just not too bad? Did I need someone just to keep me company?
Everything seemed frightening to think about. I couldn’t imagine year after year of holiday seasons and special occasions pasting on a smile and feeling dead inside.
No one had an answer for me. There was simply no cure. Oh, yeah, the five stages of grief. Talk therapy that just made everything worse. Telling me that it was going to take a long time to feel better and that there were no short-cuts. The whole thing felt like a death sentence. A heart and soul death sentence. Made me feel as though I wasn’t anything anymore. At least not anything or anyone I wanted to be.
When would this get better? And how would I survive this miserable holiday season? I wanted to go to sleep until it was over.
Of course, it did get better. Some of you know about the 7-step system I created to speed my own recovery, but that came later.
It was one particular holiday season where I knew I had to do something. My mom had passed away after a long battle with leukemia just days before Christmas, I was struggling with my own cancer diagnosis — and on top of everything, I was still blaming myself for my ex-husband’s lying and cheating, still feeling pretty worthless.
I asked myself: “What would have to happen to take my focus off the past, deal with my grief, and have hope and strength to go it alone with my own health conditions and fears? How could I draw strength from this season of the year, and start to love and respect myself, even without the approval and emotional support of others?”
So . . . I tried a lot of different things (because that’s how my mind works, and my burning belief about everything tough is that there must be a way, but I might not know what it is, yet). And, I came up with a system (because that’s also how my mind works). And, it got better.
I had a wonderful holiday season, but it might not have looked very traditional to most people. I started to heal myself that Christmas and New Years’ and I started to believe in myself again (or, maybe for the first time).
And then . . . I created an ebook and and worksheets based on everything that had worked for me (well, actually, I call the printables “magic worksheets”), and recorded the ebook in five audios. I really believe in my little holiday rescue program, and why not share?