For many people the holidays are a time to look forward to, and a time for spending time with family and friends. For someone either going through a divorce or separation or for someone who has already gone through a divorce who has not yet remarried, especially if it happens to be a year when you will not have your children during the holiday, the holidays can be extremely painful.
One thing that can make this even more difficult is when you know your ex has someone else in their life, and you have no one. It can be tough not to dwell on what you don’t have. I can remember walking from room to room in my apartment, waiting for my daughters to come home, with what felt like a fist gripping my stomach. Minutes crawled by. The holidays and the days directly preceding and following them were worse than regular days because most of my friends were busy with their own families. Sometimes I felt tired of hearing myself complain, so I stayed home, which was a mistake. The more I dwelled on where my children were, how much fun I thought they were having, how happy I thought my ex was without me, and how lonely I was, the worse I felt. It hurt so much. The pain became so heavy that it hurt to breathe. If you are feeling these things right now, these are all normal feelings, and they will pass.
Things did get easier for me, but first I had to make a series of choices. I decided to take control of my life again, which meant I had to stop thinking about what my ex was doing, and about what had happened in the past. My life was about the present. My life was my choice to make how I chose.
Here are a few tips that I learned:
- Always get out of bed and get dressed by 8:00 A.M. even on the weekends, even on the days the kids are not with you. Apply makeup and brush your hair, if you’re female, for extra credit.
- Spend more time with friends and family.
- If you find yourself feeling lonely, get out of the house! Go for a walk. Take a book to the park. Go see a movie .Go out with friends. Just get out of the house.
- Take a hot bath.
- Start a new project, such as refurbish some furniture.
- Take up a new hobby, like learn how to play a musical instrument.
- Start taking a college course for fun or for credit.
- If you have the time and the room, get a new pet.
- Start volunteering.
- Spend time with animals. (This one really helps me.)
- Start a new exercise routine.
- Do something creative or in nature.
- Start seeing a therapist if you have not already. This is not a sign of weakness, and is normal after divorce.
- Help another person. I know that when you feel down, you often feel there is nothing left to give, but that is when giving feels the best. There is ALWAYS someone in worse shape than you. There is nothing that will put things into perspective faster than witnessing the gratitude of another.
No matter what you choose to do, staying in that bed or on that couch thinking about what your ex and the kids might be doing without you is not helping you. It is time to start taking care of you. I know you can do it because I did! I promise, it does get much better!
Trish Eklund is taking a nontraditional approach to parenting children after divorce and remarriage. Raising her two daughters of ten and fourteen with her husband, ex-husband, and his wife, they consult one another on all parenting decisions. Trish has been featured on www.playground-magazine.com, and www.bigblendedfamily.com. She is a regular writer on www.herviewfromhome.com, writer and co-editor for Her View From Omaha. Follow her on Twitter: @trishiewriter, Google +, and Pinterest.