4 Tips to Making it Through the Holidays

Well, the holiday season is upon us.

While the media tries to sell us the idea that this is the “most wonderful time of the year”, the reality for a lot of people is that the holidays are the source of a lot of frustration, resentment, and downright depression.

For some of you, this might be your first holiday season after your divorce.  Some of you might have custody arrangements that will leave you without your children for a significant portion of the holidays.

So how do we face our new reality and still manage to hold on to “peace, joy, & goodwill towards men”?

1. This is Your Time

Think back to the years of celebrating the holidays as a couple.  Were there things you wanted to do but didn’t because of your spouse’s objections?  Maybe there were things you had to do but didn’t really enjoy.

Make this holiday season all about you (and your children, of course).

Did you always feel drawn to midnight mass, but never made it?  Do it this year.

Did you spend hours cooking even though you hated every second because your in-laws expected it?  Skip it this year.  Order a holiday meal to be brought in – or even just have Chinese food – whatever you want.

2. Start New Traditions or Rekindle Old Ones

It can be hard when you have to change traditions because of the divorce.

Before my divorce, Christmas Eve was spent with his relatives with lots of food and friends.  Gifts were opened starting at midnight and lasted until the wee hours.

After the divorce, I missed that.  For years afterward, I would just sit around while my son was enjoying the night with his dad feeling sorry for myself.

Now, a new tradition has developed were my mom comes to visit and we spend the evening cooking for the next day.  It is a lot more cheerful and fun.

Maybe you would like to include craft-making as part of your new traditions.  Spend some time surfing Pinterest and get those creative juices flowing.

3. Help Others

Make helping others one of your new traditions.

Volunteer at a food pantry.  Start a blanket drive.  Even just cleaning out your closet and giving the items to Goodwill can have an uplifting effect on your spirits.

In addition, it gives you something to do.  And you are helping others – what could be better?

4. Keep Calm, Cool, and Collected

During this time you may be having more contact with your ex.  School is out, schedules need to be arranged, and presents coordinated.  It is more important than ever to practice our “getting along” skills.

First, get enough rest and eat regularly.  Being tired and/or hungry doesn’t allow us to be at our best.  And we need to bring our best to the table when interacting with our ex.

Look closely at what is under your control and let go of the rest.

Mediate, relax, practice deep breathing – whatever you have to in order to find that place inside you where the joy, peace, and goodwill are residing.

Refuse to let other’s behaviors, words, or actions pull you from that place.

They have no power over you.  They can’t make you lose your holiday spirit – only you can.

Final Thoughts

As we wrap up another year – one that may have been extremely difficult for you , it is time to give your self the present of your future.

We may feel uncertainty, heck, even fear, but now is the time to let go of those Ghosts of Christmas Past and open our lives up to all that awaits.

The Secret to Letting Go of Anger After Divorce

Let’s face it – anger and resentment (what I like to think of as silent anger) are natural parts of any divorce.

You may feel anger over the past events of your marriage that may have led to the divorce.  You many feel anger over what is going on in your life now; how your ex is treating you or resentment that your life has changed.

You may feel anger over how your future has changed from the fantasy you had on your wedding day.

The Dangers of Anger

While anger may be natural and it can serve a purpose – such as pushing you out of a toxic situation.  If you allow yourself to stay in anger too long it can lead you to play the victim role.  Anger gives away your power.

The mindset becomes that because someone else is to blame and they have “done this” to you, you are not responsible or powerful enough to move forward.

Most people hold on tight to anger at their ex-spouse.  They repeat the story about how they were wronged over and over to others, but most importantly, they also repeat it over and over to themselves.

They spend their life waiting for that apology that never comes and they live in the “if onlys”.  If only my husband had treated me better, if only he wouldn’t be such a jerk when I drop off the kids, etc – then my life would be better.

Holding on to anger and resentments leaves you stuck.  Stuck in the victim role and stuck in the past.

But how do you begin to let go?  You feel you were wronged and you have a right to those feelings.  However, the 1st step is to recognize that you need to move beyond the anger to create a better life for you and your kids.

The Secret Way to Move Beyond Anger

What is the most effective way to let go of the anger towards your ex?  Pray for him.  I know it sounds ridiculous and you might be rolling your eyes about now, but just bear with me here.

But what if I am not religious or I don’t believe in God?  That’s perfectly fine.  I didn’t either when I started, but I did it anyway.

You can choose anything you want to pray to.  The sky, a tree, a picture of your kids, a candle, a door knob, whatever – it doesn’t matter.  The point is to just think the thoughts.

And what thoughts are you supposed to think anyway?  Try not to make it result based like “please make my ex treat me better”.  Don’t dwell on the negative, what is not happening.  Instead pray from a positive place.

I personally pray that God wraps my ex in His Grace, that he finds true happiness and that God shines His light brightly along his path so that he can be freed from his struggles.

You should do this even when you are really mad – especially then.  It may be hard, but force yourself to think these loving thoughts.  This is not about God or the Universe “changing” your ex.  It is about changing your mindset from cursing your ex to blessing him.

Do it even when you don’t feel it.  Fake it until you make it.

My Experience

I first came across this secret as I sat in a recovery program meeting.  Someone was discussing how she had started praying for her long ago ex who had been abusive.

They had been apart many years and she had no direct contact with him, but the old feelings would rise up when discussing him with her adult children.

She started praying and found relief for herself.

So I thought I would give it a try.  This was back when things were really bad with my ex-husband.  I did it practically every day before I went to sleep, but I didn’t really think about the results.  In fact, I didn’t even consciously notice them.

When I was starting this website and reflecting upon the path that my ex and I had taken – how we went from threats, verbal abuse, and blackmail to actually being friends I had a hard time nailing down what had changed.  Yes, I knew that I had changed through hard work and the ideas discussed on this site, but how did his change come about?  When exactly did that happen?

When I started thinking of this particular article and the practice of prayer, a light bulb went off in my head.  A great, big “a-ah” moment.  I started praying, things changed.  I don’t know how or why but that doesn’t really matter.  Maybe it was a coincidence or maybe it was the natural progression of things.  Maybe it was my changed attitude or maybe it was something more.  All I know is that things are better and that is all that matters so I will continue to pray for him each night.

Your Takeaway

Letting go of anything, but especially anger and resentment starts with your mindset, with your thoughts.   Whatever you can do to turn those thoughts around will have a much more profound effect than just wishing that your ex will change.  He may or he may not – you have no control over that.  What you can control is your thinking and your attitude and saying a prayer for those who challenge us is one way to start that process.