I’m not generally prone to holiday blues, but this year holds some special challenges. I’ve read that it takes a full year or two of holidays after a divorce or death to form new rituals and settle into new patterns that truly feel comfortable. While I’ve spent a Thanksgiving with my boys and without my spouse, this will be my first without either. I’ve planned well, albeit late, and will be cooking and thanking the universe with dear friends. I’m covered.
Still. A lump come to my throat when the divisions of the next six weeks come to mind. I don’t care for change, and divorce is change in spades. As a talisman against grief, I remind myself and recite the boys’ holiday plans to others who ask . Thanksgiving with their Dad (after all, I add, I had them last year), Christmas Eve with his family, Christmas Day at home. My younger asks for the litany every few days while my older continually reminds me of the importance of waking at home on Christmas Day. The ritual holds back my tears.
Sort of. They threaten to bubble forth at inconvenient times. At church. When discussing the timing of buying a tree. In Trader Joes. When listening to Christmas music (yeah, the boys pulled it out already). In the quiet of the night, when sleep eludes me. You get the idea. My mind threatens to twirl out of control, spiralling into worries about loneliness I might experience without the boys and despair about my failed marriage. If I let myself go long enough, I can return to the self-blame about my marriage’s failure.
Breathe. My recourse is simple but not easy. Reeling myself out of the abyss of loneliness, self flagellation and sadness takes my breath. Okay, it takes many of them. But eventually, staying with my breath, letting my feelings just be without judging or directing them, I can come back to the present. I can return to the song at church, the decorating discussion, the frozen green beans, Oh Holy Night, and restorative sleep. Acknowledged, those painful feeling pass when ready, leaving me with peace.
Usually. As they say, it takes a year or two. And that’s a lot of breaths.