Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Breakup 101, Episode 2

Don't just survive the holidays post break-up. Thrive. Embrace them. Enjoy yourself, your friends and your family.

I know, you're thinking "Yeah, right!" with an enthusiastic "As If!" eye roll and maybe a hand gesture or two straight out of Clueless circa 1995. But hear me out.  I also thought similar advice read over at Divorced Before 30 was a bunch of horseshit. I could not wrap my head around the 2011 Holiday Season being anything but miserable. How could I possibly embrace the "joy" of the season in the midst of the divorce process?  Over the last month and a half, I've been determined to somehow figure it out. Here's what I've learned so far, in no particular order:

1.) Give yourself plenty of time to face those first Holidays post break-up. Accept that they are coming well in advance. Don't bury your head in the sand or hide under the covers refusing to wake up and smell the hot chocolate. 

The first thing I did was put my Christmas tree up a week after Halloween. I thought I was crazy, and so did some of my friends, but I just knew that I needed the extra few weeks to really accept that this holiday season would be my first as a single mom. So, I put C to bed one night, drank two glasses of wine and then proceeded to drag the 9 foot pre-lit fakeness that the STBX and I had bought together last year -- that I wanted nothing other than to light on fire, watch burn and then send the charred remains through a wood chipper (or the fake tree equivalent) -- well, I dragged that sucker in its huge box up an entire flight of stairs while ascending backwards on my ass so that I wouldn't fall with it and break my neck. I swear I wasn't drunk. That beast was heavy!

Once it was up in my living room, I felt pretty damn proud of myself.

I stood back, admired my talents at assembling the tree all-by-my-superwoman-self, drank another glass of wine and then went to bed. And it stood like that in my living room, properly gated off from the destructiveness that is my toddler, for a good solid week before I could bring myself to put any ornaments on it. I think I had to get used to seeing it on a day-to-day basis to actually accept that no matter what changes I might be going through in my personal life, the holidays were coming around whether I liked it or not.

2) Get rid of old sentimental keepsakes, ornaments etc. and buy one or two new holiday keepsakes to celebrate moving on and your new life. 

OK, so I'll be honest and admit that I haven't exactly gotten "rid" of the bride and groom ornaments I collected over the last couple of years. But I did take them out of my ornament box, wrap them in tissue paper and stick them in a drawer I never open with a few other things I plan on sending back to the STBX some day. I'm actually thinking of sending them to him this year with a card as a Christmas "gift" so that he'll have to deal with the emotions tied to them too, but I can't decide if that will be healing for me in some way, or just too vindictive and mean to even be healthy.

I did hang this ornament on the tree and I must say, it is now my favorite and the most meaningful to me. Moving back to New England to be near friends and family during this time in my life after being in Virginia for 6.5 years with the STBX has been the best decision I could have made so far in the divorce process.

4) Watch a holiday movie, purely for laughs, that is NOT a love story. If it makes you smile, laugh and forget about the misery that you're been going through at all, watch it a few more times between now and New Years.  

I've chosen "Elf" as my replaying movie this season (haha, "smiling's my favorite!"). Another holiday classic that would do just fine for this purpose is "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation". I'm sure there are more, but I'm not really a movie buff and you probably get my point.

5) Avoid "Black Friday" shopping and any other hot and crowded display of consumer American craziness like the plague.  Do all your shopping either online or at off peak hours in not-so-popular stores. 

You're post break-up and you don't have the energy, patience or will to properly deal with stupid people or crowds with an ounce of class or any manners. 'Nuff said. You will loose your shit on an incompetent check out woman, who doesn't know how to enter in your Kohl's cash, and instead charges the full amount to your credit card causing the other shoppers in line behind you to wonder just how recently you were let out of the insane asylum and if they should maybe switch lines. This is of course, just a fabrication, and not at all what happened to me recently while out shopping with my cranky toddler in tow among 10,000 other batshit crazy people with too many coupons that don't know how to drive. *sigh*

Failure to heed the above advice will cause you to fall a week or two behind in your acceptance of the approaching holidays and could derail all efforts to actually embrace them.

6.) Know that you are not the lowest scum of the earth if you don't send out holiday cards this year. Tell everyone you've gone tree-hugger and are giving the Earth the ultimate gift by saving trees for Christmas.  

And if you do send out a card, pick something simple and generic foregoing the family photo and/or the newsletter-like update on your now single status. Your lone name on the sentiment will be plenty self-explanatory. Find joy in the fact that your "send to" list has been dramatically reduced automatically. If you want to reduce your list further, only send cards out to those who actually send you a card. If I follow this last bit of advice myself, so far I'm sending out less than twenty cards compared to the eighty or so sent out last year. That is called winning, my friends.

7) Experience the magic of the season through the eyes of a little one. 

Whether it is your own kiddo, a niece or nephew or you have to borrow the experience of children from a friend etc., watch one kid's eyes light up while watching the 1964 television special "Ruldolph" for the first time, or after sitting on Santa's lap at the mall, and your heart will instantly warm.  For me, its been seeing my son's awe of our decorated tree that has helped me to not scoff off the magic of the season. I don't have any chance of him sitting with Santa for at least a few more years given the fear-induced meltdown we experienced at the mall a couple of weekends ago, so his amazement with our tree will have to do for now.

So, that's all I've figured out so far. I made it through Thanksgiving without gaining any weight, have simplified my holiday season "to-do's", tried to have some patience with myself in the process and am still working on embracing the joy of the season as best I can. If not for me, at least for my son. My focus is purely on him and not me, because the true meaning for this time of year is about being thankful and sharing with the ones you love. And the love I have for him is something to be celebrated, married or not. Divorced or not. With or without Santa.


  1. I love this!! Great ways to embrace the holiday AND your singledom, so to speak. I am so happy that you are doing so well right now. XO

  2. Excellent post! I'm glad you're working through your feelings instead of pretending they're not there. That's a very hard thing to do that takes a lot of courage.

    Keep on doing what's best for you and little C, it will always be the right choice.

    Love you!

  3. Thanks!

    I figure enjoying the holidays this year will be kind of like forcing a smile when you don't feel like it. When you fake a smile even when it is hard, soon enough you're smiling for real.

  4. Yay! I can comment!

    I had to laugh at your reference to my site. I'm sure you're not the first recently separated person to think that the feel-good stuff sounds like a bunch of horseshit. :-)

    I LOVE the movie ELF. I have watched it more times than I care to admit.

    It sounds like you're doing an amazing job of making the most of the holidays given how much change you've gone through this year!

  5. I had no idea that my comment settings were so restricted. Maybe I'll get more traffic now? I don't know ... I feel like I need to hire someone to handle the managerial aspects of this blog because I'm coming up with the blog post ideas at twice the rate that I'm learning the design aspect of it all. And I have a website to build for my photography business in the spring. Gah!!

    About 6 months before I left the STBX, I started trolling around the web reading all I could about divorcing early on in a marriage, the impact it could have on my son if I left now vs. later and what would be better for him and me etc.

    Your blog came up many times for me and I found the information there so incredibly helpful. After 4 months of marriage counseling that did nothing to help save what was never really there to begin with, combined with all the strength I was gaining from my online resources and advice, I left. Leaving was the only option left that seemed healthy and manageable. And despite how scary, painful and complicated leaving actually was, I know without a doubt that it was easier than staying would have been. Thank you for helping save me and my son. Thank you for giving me strength to do what is best for us. Because of people like you, jobo_determined and others, I will not only survive through this experience, but I will THRIVE. And the journey will be wonderful. I'm on my way ...

    And P.S. I watch "Elf" every couple of months, even in the summer! Best movie EVER! Hilarious.


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