The holiday season can be a difficult and stressful time for the best of us, but it can be especially difficult for those who are experiencing their first holiday season after a major break up. Whether you have been dating for many years, or have just gone through a grilling divorce, emotionally recovering at this time of year can prove to be especially challenging. We all have personal ways of dealing with the loss of a relationship, but a time of year that often requires us to be surrounded by friends and family does not allow us to have the time to process things in the time and space that we might prefer, and it might require us to have our personal life on display in a way that we are not quite emotionally prepared for yet. Since hibernation might not be an option, there might be some things you might want to keep in mind.
While it is incredible to know that we have a strong support system of friends and family to rely on during a difficult break up, we can come to them when we need them during other times of year. During the holidays we are in gathered situations where it is common for people to ask about our lives among a large group of people. Or, where we must discuss the ending of our relationship with person after person. This can prove especially difficult when the wound is fresh, and when we are still in the early stages of working through things for ourselves. It can feel uncomfortable, and it can put a damper on the holidays for us. This is the first instance of two where I suggest sending out a brief message to your family and friends letting them know that while you truly appreciate that love and support, you would like you to enjoy the holidays and not focus on the break up now. That when you are ready, you will surely be reaching out to them, and it means a great deal to know they are there. This will hopefully cut down on at least most of the well-meaning conversations, and keep the focus on the holidays, and not you and your relationship status.
Worse yet, is when children are involved, as not are only their parents breaking up, but breaking up at this time of year. It is especially devastating. We must keep a strong and cheerful front for them to try and create a new bridge of strength and normalcy. Their life is changing, they have a sense of sorrow and uncertainty. We are juggling trying to put their needs first, trying to manage our own emotions, and trying to keep well-meaning friends and relatives from doing or saying anything that might upset them. This is where a pre-conversation via an e-mail or message is appropriate. This is just a message to remind everyone that the children are going through a very tough time, that we need to put their needs and feelings first, and to be mindful of what is said to and around them during the holidays. This can hopefully keep everyone on the same page, and give your children as loving and supported a holiday as possible. No one is naive enough to say that this will be an easy time for them, but everyone can try to not make this more difficult for them.
Break ups are difficult at any time of year, but they are especially difficult at the holidays. The holidays are a time of togetherness, loving and sharing, but they are also a reminder that we are no longer with someone significant in our lives. In addition to that, we are surrounded with others during a time we are working through our own thoughts and feelings, while trying to help our children feel supported and loved through this difficult time. Often, the best we can do is pre-plan and prevent conversations that will cause our children or us any undue pain, and allow us to enjoy the holidays as much as possible. While it is unrealistic to think that this season will be easy, we can do our best to ease some of the additional obstacles we could face. Making it through this challenging time relatively unscathed, might actually prove itself to be a good step in our overall healing process, and will surely demonstrate to our children that they are always our first priority.