Holiday Magic--When You're Coping With Separation & Divorce

Traditions create the magic of holidays. They keep us grounded. Change, on the other hand, often knocks us off our feet. So how do you cope?
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It's holiday time, and if you're in the midst of a major transition, it can be one of the most challenging (certainly not "the most wonderful") times of the year. Twinkling lights, cheery carols and holiday shopping can bring more sadness than joy ... especially when your world is falling apart.

Traditions create the magic of holidays. They keep us grounded. Change, on the other hand, often knocks us off our feet. And separation and divorce changes nearly everything. They can divide our friendships, the family we get to celebrate with, and the holiday parties we are invited to. They even change how we play Santa.

So how do you cope?

Most important, with kindness and patience ... toward yourself. Now is the time to practice "healthy selfishness." It's a concept I'm learning on my journey through cancer treatment. Chances are you are working very hard getting through your crisis, and that takes lots of energy. Gift yourself time to step back, choose to do only the things that are really important to you this year, and take good care of you. If stringing Christmas lights is just too much, give yourself permission not to do it! Then, reward yourself by doing something you enjoy.

Remind yourself: This is a temporary condition. After muddling through decoupling (yes, walking through the tears, broken dreams, division and paperwork that divorce requires), eventually you'll find your own new way of being and you just may be pleasantly surprised at who you become! In the work I do, I've seen many people morph from devastation to acceptance to a delightfully happy new life.

Understand that bumps in the road are an inevitable part of life. Give yourself a vacation from the "whys" in your life. Very few of us accomplish our "Plan A", especially without some major glitches. Wise men and women have said life is about how you handle "Plan B." It's what softens us, builds character and develops compassion, which adds meaning to our lives. Recent studies have shown overcoming adversity helps us find purpose - and having purpose is now seen as the secret to a happy life.

Ditch the traditions you don't enjoy and create new ones you'll treasure. The good news is, you get to choose how you'll move forward. You're no longer stuck with what doesn't work for you. If you have kids, talk with them about new ways they'd like to celebrate. It can be lots of fun!

Ask yourself: Was I really "living the dream"? Take time to reflect and be honest. Then, the next time you are out to dinner, look around at couples and notice if they look like they are living "the dream". There's a good chance you'll spy a few couples who are barely tolerating each other. It will help you know you are not alone and that you might even be a few steps ahead of them.The silver lining in this exercise? Once you heal, you'll have earned a second shot at creating and living your dream.

Warm wishes for the holiday season you need and a gentle New Year. And remember, the magic is in your hands, especially when you believe ... in yourself.

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