I really wanted this to be a post that had a positive message. Truly, I did. I was hoping for something like: “How to survive the holidays after a divorce” or “7 ways to find your sanity and happiness during the holiday season”. I wanted this to be a “If I can survive the holidays, so can YOU!” kind of message but it’s not. Not by a long shot. I think I just needed to write about how I am feeling in this moment, and this moment in particular hurts A LOT. So why mask that with some false, bullshit, step-by-step process to happiness that seems utterly ridiculous and unattainable when I am feeling low and lousy? Maybe some day I will be writing a feel-good, self-help type blog post about the holidays, but this isn’t the time and this most certainly isn’t that post.
This is a post about how much the holidays hurt.
I seriously thought I would escape the heartache this year. It’s year number three without my family at home for the holidays. Isn’t it time that I should be able to hold my head up high and march on through this festive shit without batting an eye? Apparently not.
Every year when Halloween makes it’s appearance, I can feel that quiet whisper of “fuck, here we go again” as the holiday season begins and I prepare for what feels like random punches to the gut as memories trigger me for months on end. My birthday is in November, then it’s Thanksgiving, then it’s my son’s birthday on the 17th, and then the big one: Christmas. Once New Years Eve hits I am toast, and absolutely done with whatever year I am saying goodbye to; just get that shit over with.
This is year three for me as a single, divorced mom of two. This is the third time I have had to juggle kids and schedules with my ex-husband. Who gets Sam on his birthday this year? Who gets the kids on Christmas Eve and then Christmas day? Thankfully this year my ex and I are in a better spot with our relationship which definitely makes things a bit easier but it doesn’t erase that sting of missing my children on special days. Not by a long shot. It’s difficult to describe the emotional weight of not having your family with you on major holidays. I find myself trying to stay as busy as possible to avoid thinking and feeling too much about anything because I know that during this time of year I have an undercurrent of emotions running through me which means it doesn’t take much to tip the scale from sanity to crazy-brain. I do not like crazy-brain. Nope. Not one bit.
I know that I am not the only one who hurts during the holidays and I have friends and family who would willingly adopt me on those emotional days when I am all alone. But the thing is, I don’t want to be near people when I am sad. I isolate so I don’t have to pretend that I am okay. I don’t feel comfortable being vulnerable when I am feeling vulnerable – I still won’t cry in front of anyone and for some reason, this fact seems like it might not be the healthiest thing (something to work on later I suppose).
I wish I could opt out of the months of November and December every year. I wish I had an off switch for all of those memories that sneak up on me. Maybe as time marches on I will be better equipped to handle the holidays. Maybe one day I will have a partner in my life that helps to ease this emptiness and hurt. Maybe next year will be the year when I have my shit together and I write that positive holiday post. But for now, I am on my own and feeling my feelings no matter how shitty they may be. And putting one foot in front of the other is the best that I can do right now.
And that has to be okay.