It may be your first holiday season since separation OR it may be that it’s your 2nd 3rd or more. No matter how many there have or haven’t been its hard!
How does one build resilience to cope with, going it alone, over this period?
Here are some things I have learnt on my journey post separation and divorce and some coping strategies I have put in place over the years to ‘”get through” on your own, as it can be a tough time.
Gone are your ideas on the perfect family Christmas day, turning up to pre-xmas functions with a partner, feeling the festive mood, and so on…. You get the gist….. Hello disappointment and uncomfortable situations you never imagined you would have ever found yourself in.
You know everyone is feeling festive and it’s the last thing you are currently feeling, esp. if this is your 1st year! More so in that 1st year you just want to hibernate and turn down every festive invite, but you simply just can’t. It’s a time you deserve to enjoy a little too, maybe not as much as you usually would, yes I appreciate that, but you will be surprised if you surround yourself with the right group of people how you can and do deserve to have a little joy in your life. You will hopefully find yourself in a happy joyful environment and it may just rub off on you for a few hours. Just remember to not overdo it and pace yourself. Just a couple of festive drinks and end the night on a high and you will have been please you left the house. If you don’t trust you can keep it to a couple of happy festive drinks then stick to the lemon line and bitters. Just take my word for it on that!
If you are finding you are having a rough time then only accept the invitations you know you can cope going to and where you know good friends will be there to support you. Talk to your friends prior to the event and let them know how you are feeling. If you don’t want to turn up alone ask them if you can travel to the event with them, or turn up a little later once they are all settled in and you can slip in quietly and blend in.
Of course self-care is imperative at this time. If on the day you are feeling shattered, unable to face the event, then own those feelings and stay in and run yourself a hot bath, watch a movie or phone a friend. Do what it is you need to start the next day feeling reenergised and able again.
Then there is Christmas day… without your children for some or all of it, depending on the arrangements you have agreed on with your EX.
Christmas days are never the same again and it’s about accepting that and creating new traditions and being flexible about change. Hopefully you have extended family or friends that include you in their days, but if you prefer to host your own xmas day and create new traditions then great. Talk with the children about what they want to do on Xmas day. I guarantee all they want is to sit all day and play with their new toys. If the children are older then they might like to be more social but plan it together and help create the excitement with them.
Personally I know deep down how hard it is, you just want your own “normal” xmas day, but really is any xmas day “normal” with families. Create your new normal for your own family unit. Put your grievances and sense of loss aside for a day and give gratitude for what you do have in life.
If you are finding giving gratitude quite hard- which it can be in the early days. I recc you begin your own gratitude journal. Every evening write 3 things you are grateful for that day. It can be the simple things like sunshine, happy children, good coffee to get you through then day. The more you do this the easier it becomes and the more you realise all the good things you have in your life. Good friends, good family, great kids etc. Being grateful for what you have helps you to become more positive and move through this process a lot easier.
Emotions are another aspect of divorce and sometimes we don’t know quite what to do with them ourselves, let alone those around us knowing what to do with US either!
Sadness, fear, self-pity, anger. The best thing to do is acknowledge them, feel them and then move through them so you can come out the other side a better version of yourself, the sooner you realise this the better off you will be. If you are unable to cope with your varying emotions then talk to a friend or seek professional help from a counsellor or psychologist. Sometimes we just feel better talking about it and knowing it is all normal and a part of the process. Just don’t push them down and ignore your emotions. ACCEPT – DEAL WITH – MOVE THROUGH
And finally take care of yourself so you get through this period, regular exercise and healthy eating will help your state of mind and allow you to cope better. If you don’t take care of yourself, sadly right now nobody else will, so make YOU a priority when it comes to your health and state of mind. You will concur it all, in time, with healthy living!!
If you feel you require additional support with any of this call your best friend or mum or your divorce coach and ask for the support you need to help you move forward.