I’m learning something new this holiday season: I’m learning Christmastime kind of sucks when you’re divorced.
I write “kind of” with utmost sincerity. Because really, it’s just kind of.
I’m a big fan of Christmas and New Years. I love the winter rituals of celebration, rest, and renewal. But while my enjoyment of the season has not been completely undermined by my newly minted legal status, bitter emotions do rear their ugly head on occasion, and usually in unexpected moments.
It’s simply not the same, preparing for Christmas without that one person whom I so recently considered my life-long partner. Bringing in the holidays without him makes the absence – and the aftermath of our relationship – much more keenly felt.
I’m not going to try to pull something positive out of this today. We so often pressure ourselves to do that: to see the silver lining, to focus on the joy inside our darkness. We must count our blessings, or we will appear self-centered and ungrateful; ignorant toward all the good things life has given us.
But sometimes, I think, it’s important to acknowledge that we’re sad. To feel our pain and anger, and to embrace it. To give ourselves a break from setting the example, from being on top of things, from always smiling and never giving up.
I’m seeing similar sentiments echoed throughout my social networks lately, both on- and off-line. There seems to be a sense of collective exhaustion right now. A very real need to withdraw and re-center.
I also see a tendency to push back against that need: Internally, as we fight our own fatigue; and externally, as friends and neighbors coax each other away from the instinct to crawl toward a safe space and ignore the outside world.
Everybody has their own coping mechanisms. The lucky ones among us have developed a fairly diverse tool box, applying different options to different circumstances. Sometimes we respond to fatigue and melancholy with action and interaction; but sometimes – and this is very important – what we really need is to rest.
For a long time, I’ve believed that in their purest form, the midwinter holidays were intended as a time of rest and renewal. I’d like to invite you to consider that this holiday season. Dare to break the routine by giving yourself a chance to be quiet. Listen to your heart, and follow that voice, whether it leads to the next holiday party or to an evening alone by the fireplace.
Don’t be afraid to seek solitude and silence, if that’s what your spirit needs. Trust me on this. You’ll be happy you did when 2017 arrives, laden with its own supply of new opportunities and unforeseen challenges.