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All of us had those days.  You know the ones where we never stopped running.  We would drop off, go to work, pickup, go to practice & games, make dinner, help with homework, clean, do laundry, workout, go to bed (albeit without much sleep). 

Then we got up and did it all over again.  Each day was a little different, like when birthdays, holidays and sick days were upon us and things got really hectic!

Ya.  We all had those days.  Then one day we woke up and the house was empty. 

Most of us experience this when our kids are older and retirement is upon us.  But, in times of divorce, some of us lucky ones get this special time early. 

At first, it's like you finally have a moment to take a big breath and exhale.  No more arguments with your spouse, no more heartbreak.  In some cases, less laundry, less cooking, less cleaning.  Most times you have less money, so you fill your time with more work.  Yet, you still have less money.  

Then the holidays approach.  The time when things get really crazy around the house.  But, this time you're ready for it like a challenge of all challenges.  However, this time, the challenge is a little different then we expected.  

Holidays after divorce -  Blah Humbug!frown

Like that movie "The Day After Tomorrow", when the air pressure drops right before the freeze.  Nothing.  No one.  The kids are with your ex, you're not really up for dating yet, your friends are all happy and healthy with family and you're not. 

It's like a cruel joke for working so damned hard to keep things going all these years.  Trying to keep everyone happy, somehow you forgot about your own happiness, your life after "that".  

You realize this may be the reason you're divorced.  The stress, frustration over not having enough time for your spouse, yourself or quality time with the kids. 

Now, you really have less "happy me" time, no spouse time, less kid time and while you may have more work to keep you busy, you suddenly realize you're not really sure why you're still working so hard. The reasons you wanted to put forth such an effort was for them, but now you're just hanging on.  Not sure what your hanging on to, but you still overcompensate.

Too much?

You plan a big party for the holidays.  You may over indulge your kids in new things, cook too much and invite too many.   But, something is still missing.  Your kids are different and wave a fast goodbye to go to their other parent's home during, what seems like, the premature end of the holiday.  No problems with that it would seem. 

Co-parenting includes sharing the holidays.   You understood that when you signed your divorce papers.  But, somehow, it leaves you feeling pretty crappy inside.  

You're cleaning up the mess and it hits.  Things are definitely not okay.  They are not the same.  You and your family are on a journey of "different".  You're exploring a realm there's no coming back from and best not to compare to the past.  But, holidays are filled with memories of the past.  How do you only think of today when today, this holiday is awful!

Some of us overindulge in good or bad compulsions (workout, drink, shop).   Either way it leaves you feeling like you can't "find", "buy", "ignore" or "plan" your way out of this.  

When nothing helps

Less and more in all the wrong places.  No gym, beer, wine or food really get you back to where you probably weren't really happy anyway, but sometimes wish you were again.   Somehow familiar would be so "right" about now.  It's not really because you miss your ex, the arguments or the things they did that hurt you.  It's not like you can't let go of the past. 

You're totally capable of change, but this seems unfair, uncomfortable and wrong somehow.  At some point you stop trying to figure out why and just want a solution.

So what do you do?

First.  Accept it.  Accept that times have changed.  But don't accept this dark period in your life to be what the change is all about.  This is your transition, but it's not your destination.  It may take some time to find the other side of this change. The positive and liberating possibilities that open the door to a better future and potential relationships.  

Second.  Use it.  Use this time to discover the true meanings of what we celebrate.  No, this doesn't mean you have to get all weird about it.   Take the time to truly observe who and what you celebrate.  Value the time and the meaning of the holiday with the people you love; even if you have less time together it will mean more. 

Third.  Cope with it.  So, nothing really makes you feel much better.  Maybe you feel better right after a good workout or a beer with some friends, but then you're back to being alone. 

So deal with it.  Really actively deal with it.  Once you're feeling that blah feeling again, get busy!  If what you do doesn't help, stop and do something else.  But, never stop doing.   

Work on a home project or hobby.  Start something new, accomplish goals, volunteer.  This lonesome, dark holiday island won't take you anywhere, so get out there and find a way off of it to arrive at a "better" destination.  Better than "then" and better then "now". 


Don't be afraid to grab ahold of something new and extraordinary.  Celebrate this holiday and everyday by making new traditions that inspire you.  Explore the paths that never appeared before you because you never had the time or inclination to look while things were "just okay". 

Remember, "just okay" wasn't enough then and it's definitely NOT enough now.   You've come too far from that in search of better.  Celebrate this time in your life as an awakening and recognition that you want more out of life.  It's not your destination, it's the beginning of a new journey.  

Use this time to get to know what makes you really happy and motivated.   Sometimes we find the best things in life when faced with the worst times, like divorce.  When you find what makes you happy, you'll know what and who you want, where you want to go in your life and why.  You'll be closer to your family and better appreciate the meaning of every holiday you celebrate.


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