This is my second holiday season as a divorced dad. Having been through it once before I thought I would have figured out the hardest parts by now. I was wrong.
It hasn’t been that easy. There’s always so much to do, and being just one person to do it makes that extra challenging. Add to this that you want to give your children all the best memories, while not losing your cool and showing the moments you are barely keeping it together, and “the most wonderful time of the year” can become one of the most challenging.
I thought it worthwhile to look at two sides of this experience. If you try, you’ll be able to see the good that you always hoped for.
Surprise... you’re alone!
This might seem obvious, but you’re alone now. Even if you’re not technically alone, meaning that you’ve met someone and have started a new life of some sort, you will be reminded of those holidays you once had, and it will likely make you feel a little sad.
It’s not because what you have now isn’t better. In fact, you may have horrible memories of your holidays from when you were married. The difference now is that what was once the familiar norm is no longer.
The old you... the one that once celebrated these holidays a certain way, is no longer who you are.
You will still recall the way it felt to do things then. You will remember the happy times, because surely the power of the holiday spirit provided at least some happy times in the past you left behind. Now, however, they are truly in the past. It will never feel more poignant then when the thoughts of what was come creeping into those quiet moments when you’re lost in reflection.
It’s no surprise then that the holiday season has traditionally been one where too many lives are willfully released in order to avoid the deep and powerful emotions that this time of year brings.
But that is not you.
Remember, you survived divorce.
You probably thought then as you were going through it that you weren’t sure you could make it through the pain... and yet you did.
You’ll make it through this too.
Gather close your children, friends, and if applicable, your new loved one. You don’t have to completely let go of those old memories, but it’s time to start making new ones. Eventually, the new ones will become the old ones that you will cherish.
You’re really not as alone as you may think!
One thing that will unfortunately never change is that there are others out there feeling much like you. During the holidays is a fantastic time to reach out and embrace that fact.
Find friends or strangers who are also facing this season with less company than they were used to. Online groups could offer a channel to make this connection. Local events, charities, churches or public groups are all places that others like yourself may be trying to hide their fears.
It’s really not that hard to find others in need. Pay attention to the ones who look a little more lonely, distant, or afraid to engage. Say hello. Introduce yourself. Tell them your story. Most of all... listen.
The amazing thing about this wonderful holiday season is the spirit of giving and charity that seems to work its way into everything. Allow that to move you, to care about someone else more than you care about your own troubles.
It may feel hard at first, but with some effort you will start to feel the excitement of making others happier, and this will most certainly make you happier.
When I was first going through my divorce I chose to turn my attentions outwards. I wanted to keep myself from hiding and suffering alone. I started a local group for anyone separated or divorced. I met some wonderful people who helped me see the brightness of the future. I know I was also able to offer some similar relief to many of them.
Let the season of giving bring out your greatest desires to give of yourself to others, and you will never need to feel alone.
‘Tis the season
I am certainly no expert, but with some experience I know what has worked and I know it can help others.
One of the best parts of the holiday season is the chance to see the good in the world around you. During most of the year we are so focused on ourselves that it’s hard to get out of our heads and see any real good. At this time, however, we are able to see the sparkle of lights and hear the magic of carols.
We can see when people hold the door, wave, and smile. We can see the kindness in the world increase, and we can feel our own kindness start growing.
When you are divorced, you know what pain feels like. You know what sadness and loneliness is. You know the fear of waking up to the same fears tomorrow.
But... you also know the desire for more, the hope for better, and the belief in next time.
At this time of year, you, perhaps more than many others you know, could offer more hope to the world than even the merriest of children playing in the freshly fallen snow.
Speaking of children... as a parent, you have some of the most precious angels right in front of you to focus on and give your best attentions to. They will, more than anything, make this time of year special if you allow it.
No, it won’t always be easy. You will have to force some smiles, and you may need to pretend to care, but if you allow yourself to turn your thoughts a little more outward, you just might feel the magic this wonderful holiday season brings. You can find yourself truly having a very, merry time.
Question: What have you done to get past your own troubles and make the most of the holidays? Leave a comment below.
Divorced Dad, Blogger, and Personal Development Mentor Derick Turner has been carefully crafting his message of post-divorce hope for a number of websites.
Follow his journey by subscribing to his blog at DerickTurner.com where he regularly posts content intended to help in Developing Upright Men. Follow his story and insights on Facebook, Twitter, DivorceForce.com and here at The Huffington Post.