Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Broken-Hearted And Alone During The Holidays? Cheer Up, There’s Hope

Recently, I wrote a post about my personal testimony about the devastation of my divorce in 2001 to where I am today. That post seems to have struck a chord because it’s the third most read post that we’ve had in the brief history of The Upbeat Dad. It’s a reminder to me that the lessons I learned during that turbulent period are too precious to keep to myself. As we live, we learn. If we don’t teach what we have learned, then others will be at a disadvantage. So it’s important that we share what we learn with others.
Anyway, today I will address what I feel can be a very sensitive matter. It’s about those who are where I was during the holiday season in 2001. If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to read that post – Click Here.
Something about the holiday season is so special. Thanksgiving, then Hanukkah and Christmas are all such wonderful times of family and friends coming together. As a holiday song says, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”
Yet, for many of us, or our friends, relatives or neighbors, it’s a very challenging and difficult time. As I shared on the previous post, I was so thankful during that holiday season. I was surrounded by so much love and support. But I was going through turmoil. The marriage that I thought was for a lifetime was done and over with – in less than 5 years.
Yet I’d go out in public and I’d see families just enjoying each other and having fun. I went to the mall to do a bit of Christmas shopping. I saw couples holding hands. I saw kids sit on Santa’s lap and take pictures. The joy and laughter echoed through the air. But deep within, the laughs cut me like a knife.
If you’ve been there, you may understand the following statement: it’s not that I didn’t want others to have fun and enjoy the holiday season; I was hurting and saw my world fall apart and it was just too much for me seeing what seemed like everyone have fun in the festive season and it seemed so unfair. There’s an expression that says, “The one who loves feels the pain.” That was me – I loved, therefore my heart was on the line. And since it was on the line, when the relationship ended, I literally felt the pain.
Would you imagine that at the time of the year when everyone seems to eat so much - in what I call a guiltless overindulgence – I actually lost 30 pounds. I really couldn’t eat. That chapter for me was too traumatic.
The most difficult thing for me throughout the entire ordeal was seeing my daughter coming to grips with the fact that her family had fallen apart. She was quite young so she didn’t know all that was going on. But she knew that her parents were no longer living together. And Thanksgiving and Christmas were not quite the same. That whole transition period for her and me, as well as my former wife, I’m sure, was different and quite trying.
Perhaps you find yourself in this boat during this holiday season. Or perhaps you know of a loved one who’s in that boat. I can tell you from personal experience that it’s not easy. It’s even more difficult when you have children and for the first time, you’re having to attend family gatherings without your spouse or perhaps without the children. And as much as many might try to be sensitive, there always seems to be that family member or friend who knows just the right words to say to stick the knife a bit deeper in your heart.
If you’re in these shoes right now, my encouragement to you is to just be yourself. Sometimes you may want to cry. So go ahead and cry. If you feel like being alone, be alone. Just don’t allow yourself to fall into a state of depression that becomes long-lasting. Or at other times, you’ll want to be around people who care and understand. Whatever the case, just be true to yourself.
And particularly if you’re a parent, do your very best to shield your kids from the emotions that you’re feeling. If you’ve built up anger or resentment, tell it to the wall – or to another adult who cares for you an what you’re going through – perhaps a professional. Do whatever you will but don’t let the kids hear you say something negative about the other parent. It can only work against you in the end.
I remember going through a class for moms and dads who were going through divorce and one gentleman said in reference to his soon-to-be former spouse, “I don’t want her to die; I just want her to get leprosy.” We had a good laugh at the expression of his sentiments towards her.  But those types of feelings you may have should not be shared in any way that your kids might hear. It’s their other parent, afterall.
After a while, you’ll realize that life goes on. You can bounce back like a champion. Today I look forward to the holiday season with great anticipation because it’s family time. I’m remarried and now I appreciate my wife and two children so much more after having had that experience.
Hang in there. It gets better. Just keep a level head. Be true to yourself and inevitably, things will turn out fine for you and for your children.
Have a great day. And despite anything you might be facing, do enjoy the holiday season.

The Upbeat Dad

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