Thoughts

Can You REALLY Enjoy the Holidays When Divorced?

Amy Siock Paynton [featured-video-plus]

Interview with Amy Siock Paynton, executive director of the Alpha Resource center.

Interviewer: It’s only November, however, let’s be honest. The Holiday decorations are already out inthe stores, and the Season is here! Let’s also acknowledge that Corona had decided to join in the Festivities this year!? I heard you say, Amy, that it IS actually possible to Enjoy the Holidays, even if divorcing or newly divorced??? As Alpha Center aims to do, Please try to Share some HOPE, as folks UNDERSTANDABLY become anxious when this topic is broached.

Amy: As always, I am so Honored to speak for Alpha, and to talk abut these very timely and needed topics! I am Blessed to say that, even though I divorced when my children were 1, 3 and 5, I have had some of the most MEANINGFUL Holiday Seasons of my Life post-divorce. I would Encourage all those in “different” shoes this Season to FOCUS on Enjoying Moments, and Congratulate yourself for the ability to do that!

Tips I am Grateful to Share from The Other Side:

Rethink what You Always Do

1. REWRITE the Holiday TO DO LISTS! If you were lucky enough, many of us grew up with beloved Family Traditions at the Holidays, and now it can be heartbreaking to think we do not have that same type “Family” to Celebrate the same way. HOWEVER, when in a grounded place, look at the list of “shoulds” YOU Created. YOU can now DECIDE which ones are most important. Do you really have to bake 12 dozen cookies, and make gingerbread houses, and send grey sweater packages, and decorate every room in your Home? Point is, what are YOUR FAVORITES that you WANT to carry on with your NEW type Family? Your ex may be doing some Traditions with the kids you never really liked anyways. Give yourself PERSMISSION for Quality over Quantity. People understand, and if they do not, do you need them as a support? Maybe it’s too painful to send out a single parent card. So DON’T! Maybe it’s FUN to START a NEW YEARLY ADVENTURE of taking kids on train into the city for a light show. So DO! YOU set the Expectations!

Loosen Up on the Actual Date

2. Does Santa always come December 25 in the Morning? Whatever Holiday you Celebrate, challenge yourself to think if it HAS to be done on that exact day? PLAN AHEAD with your ex so your children know what to expect on the actual Holiday. If the North Pole has to stop at your Home a few days before Christmas, then it does. With a therapist or good friends, mourn the loss of that, however, kids just want happy Memories, so CREATE that!

How ‘Social’ Do You Really Feel?

3. Set Boundaries with Well Meaning Friends and Family If they have not been in your shoes, they might not understand being amidst a bunch of other couples trying to be “JOYful” may be too painful for you this year. It’s okay to say NO. This may be the year to cut the social parties in half (although Corona can help with that 😊).However, make sure you think of some things you can do so you are not isolating, like a Divorce Support Group friends gathering, or asking a high school best friend to meet for a one-on-one hour gift exchange or brisk walk instead. PLAN EXIT strategies for Holiday parties, setting Intentions to show people Gratitude you were included, but also realizing you may need to leave early and go home and take a few deep breaths.

Give Yourself some Holiday Cheer

4. LOOK FOR THE EXTRA SELF-CARE OPPORTUNITIES! Most of us have some extra time off during the Holidays, and may have extra time without the kids. TRY TO REFRAME THIS AS AN END OF A HARD YEAR GIFT! If you have been doing the sometimes brutal emotional work of divorce, you might be exhausted! Use the cold days OFF to take a nap, finally get to that uplifting book or movie! Clean out a closet of your former life stuff to make room for the new! It took a lot of pre-planning and mourning, but I remember so well a sunny, crisp air, exhilarating run Christmas Morning, all by myself, as my kids celebrated with their dad. I never thought this good feeling could be possible December 25.

Enjoy the Spiritual Side of the Season

5. Reexamine the MEANING of the Holidays you Celebrate. Often when Married and with more family to visit and kids around more often, it is natural to be more harried and miss the real meaning and origins of the Holidays you Celebrate. What do you Celebrate? Why? What Messages from those could you possibly use in your Life now? What songs bring you the Calm or Fun you might need more of now?

Make Someone Else’s Holiday a Little Better

6. VOLUNTEER. Yes, I “get” it. Your nightmare can feel so overwhelming, and you can be so enmeshed in your own depression and anxiety, you don’t think you have the energy to think of ANYONE else! However, I am guessing many of you DO have an offer from family or friends to go to a Home you are comfortable with, heat there, and some yummy food. Homeless people do not have this. In my Married Life, I would have never thought of Volunteering Thanksgiving to serve those less fortunate. Not only was it so rewarding, it took my mind off not being around my kids, but it also introduced me to NEW Friends for the NEW Life I was Creating! Quite a WIN WIN!

Ask for Help if you Need It

7. ….AND IF YOU ARE THE ONE NOW IN NEED, FINANCIALLY OR MENTALLY , DO NOT BE SHY! ACCEPT EXTRA HELP! YOU WILL GET TO THE OTHER SIDE AND CAN PAY IT FORWARD THEN! If this is the year YOU need to get financial help for presents, you do. It will not always be like this transition period! However, NOT dealing with the Holiday grief will delay that next step. Whether it is a Dear Aunt, or maybe you actually do need to hire a Therapist or Divorce Coach, USE the more time solo without the kids wisely! It IS sad and a LOSS to lose the Dream of the whole family unit. However, BE REAL and vent that. I promise you cannot cry forever about these things! We often waste so much energy AVOIDING emotions versus just saying to unconditional supports: “Yeah, this Christmas,Hanukkah, etc. HURTS!” It can help you move on to the next good place….

8. ALL OF THIS ENDS WITH A NEW YEAR! When it’s too much, just go with that. Curl up on your favorite couch, and acknowledge this IS painstaking stuff. When you get any MOTIVATION, write down a small Goal you Look Forward to for NEXT year’s 2021 FRESH START!

For more ideas on holidays after divorce, consider these articles:

Solo and Lonely at Christmas

10 Ideas for Getting a Handle on Holiday Stress Post-Divorce

©2020 Alpha Resource Center, LLC

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