Category: Family

The First Holidays After Divorce

The First Holidays After Divorce

I am sitting alone on Thanksgiving morning with the dog, drinking a cup of coffee and reflecting on the fact this is the first Thanksgiving without my daughter. The way our parenting plan and schedule worked out this year I won’t be with my daughter on Halloween, Thanksgiving, her actual birthday, and Christmas Eve & Christmas morning. Needless to say, the holidays have hit differently for me this year.

I have had a multitude of feelings about spending some of my first holidays alone post-divorce. First and foremost, I am sad, but I get this was a natural consequence. It wasn’t unexpected in that way. It has been hard fielding questions about how my daughter liked Halloween or how she dressed up (I dunno because I wasn’t there) or what my plans are for Thanksgiving. This whole experience has also given me the ability to understand how my mom felt when we went to our dad’s for the holidays. It’s a bit different, since we only saw my dad on holidays & weekends, but I recognize the sameness of our situations in spending holidays alone. I do have compassion for her experience, as this is not an easy time to navigate, but also disappointment in that she guilt tripped us and made us feel bad for seeing our other parent. That is something I have been thoroughly intentional about…I do not want my daughter to feel guilt at seeing her dad or spending time with her dad. Divorce is hard enough on a kid; there is no need for a parent to layer their own guilt on top of an already challenging situation for a child.

I also have felt anger towards my ex-husband. We were in an amicable co-parenting place before he allowed another woman to move in and run the show and our co-parenting relationship has taken a hit as a result. I would have loved for an invitation to have been extended to me to spend at least a few hours together with our daughter on this day. But that hasn’t happened. I don’t think it will materialize in the future, so I am left to cope with this reality solely on my own.

I have come to realize that the first holidays feel similarly to the experience of navigating the first year after someone dies. As you approach these days, you realize things have been forever altered. It can be filled with emotional landmines as you grieve the loss of your intact family and any traditions you may have had. I was unpacking Christmas d├ęcor and stumbled across a paper mache snowman I bought with my ex on a trip to Mexico City. I smiled at the memory while feeling a pang of sorrow and then promptly threw it in the trash. I hope you do not romanticize the past with your ex, as there was a reason why the two of you got divorced. Although the memory made me smile, I recognize that my life is ultimately far more peaceful and joyful NOW post-divorce then it ever was married. Despite any grief I may feel about this time, I know in my heart I made the absolute right decision for myself. I was invited to friends, and while I appreciated the generous offer, I declined it, as I wanted to allow myself space to grieve and navigate this new normal on my own.

Let’s not also forget the positives too. It is a time for you to CREATE new traditions on those holidays you DO have you child. My kid is old enough now for us to bake Christmas cookies together. I love baking and want to involve her in a new tradition where we make Christmas cookies for friends and neighbors. Although not new, we adopt local kids from our Boys and Girls Club because I want her to realize there are kids in this world that have socks, underwear or a winter coat on their wish list for Christmas. Despite the difficult journey our family has gone through, we still are very fortunate. I want her to see the holiday is not all about receiving; it is about giving. It is about helping where you can to make your community and world a better place. And it’s an opportunity for you personally, dear one. I decided to see a movie later today by myself. I booked the ticket last night and am looking forward to movie theater popcorn later! While I am not cooking a full on Thanksgiving dinner for myself, I did get from the store certain holiday foods I love (stuffing, pumpkin pie. etc.) and plan to cook them later. It is not all sadness and grieving; there are some hopeful, joyful moments during this time.

If you are going through the holidays post-divorce for the first time like me, my heart goes out to you. My wish is for healing and love to surround you, even in those tough moments. Know that it is not all bad, it will get better, and you will get through it. Be hopeful for your future.

Pick Myself Up

We are at the park. It’s a beautiful day. I feel incapable of joy. Or any positive emotion. I want to cry, almost all the time. I know my husband is frustrated with me. I see how he looks at me, disgusted at times. He’s even referred to me “poor you” when he’s really angry with me. I know I’m impacting him. I don’t sleep very well at night. I look around at all these happy families and think, “Why can’t that be me?”  The tears spill down my cheeks. Even my dog isn’t sitting by me. He’d much rather explore the park. 

Every day feels like an uphill climb for me. I’m not just on the struggle bus; I’m driving that bitch. Have been for awhile. 

I’m in therapy. Work out regularly. Keep a gratitude journal. Eat right. Try to get enough sleep. Am trying to find a psychiatrist to get me on a medication that may help. This sadness overwhelms all my efforts. I hate feeling this way. 

I want something different for my life, my legacy. I don’t want this endless trail of sadness to follow me. Yet I don’t know how to pick myself up. 

Mother’s Day

I should feel happy.  But I don’t. I should feel grateful. But I don’t. I feel an incredibly overwhelming sadness right now. Sadness that neither my husband or I having any family that we are close to. For not really having much of a family to offer our daughter. I’m mad at myself that I don’t feel more grateful. More loved. More happiness. I cried in the shower this morning. I’m sitting in a red polka-dotted towel still crying. I can’t seem to shake this melancholy. 

My husband asked me what I wanted to do today. I can’t even come up with any kind of answer. I whispered “I don’t know” while holding back another round of tears. 

All I see is responsibility. Dishes to be done. Laundry to be folded. Meals to be made. House to be cleaned. Diapers to be changed. Dog to be walked. The list is endless. Where does that leave room for fun?  For me?

I’m so tired of the endless sadness. 

A Savage Fight

A Savage Fight

I feel hungover this morning but not from alcohol. From an awful fight last night with the husband. I had put our daughter to bed and come downstairs and he is watching the news, as per usual. A panelist gets done talking and my husband is practically spitting the words “Shut the fuck up you fat, ignorant bastard” at the tv. I had just sat down but immediately got up and walked into the kitchen muttering, “I don’t want to be around THAT energy.”

He seethes at me, “You don’t want this energy?!?  Is that what you said?!?”

“YES!” I hiss at him. I feel my pulse racing and I’m white hot angry at him. Does he not realize I’m exhausted and I just want a little peace and quiet?!?  Does he not realize how much any kind of negativity physically affects me?  

He’s up off the couch and his face is all twisted in rage. “So it’s OK for you to be in a shitty mood but you don’t want MY energy?!?  WELL FUCK OFF THEN!”

He spins on his heel and leaves the room which I fucking hate. It’s so dismissive. I call after him and he returns. The fighting continues up until the point where he threw something across the room and I screamed “GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!”

Wait, how did we go from 0-1000 in like 5 seconds?!?  

He leaves. I’m shaking in anger. Then the sadness sets in and my body is wracked with sobs. I continue to get ready for bed because I still have to get up at 5am and I honestly have no idea if he’s coming back or not. 

How did we get here?  How are we at the point that we are screaming at each other over an insignificant news show?  What is going on with is?  Who have we become?

I have no answers. I lay in bed, shaking still. I don’t know if it’s leftover adrenaline or I’m just cold. I feel like I could throw up.  I won’t be sleeping anytime soon.

I text a simple “I’m sorry” to him. No response. I wait 15 minutes and then call. I’m  surprised when he picks up. “Two questions:  are you safe?” I ask quietly into the phone. Despite the fight, he’s still my best friend, my partner, the father of my child. 

“Yes.”

“Are you going to come home?”  I almost whisper. His anger seems gone but I’m scared to risk either one of us blowing up again. 

“Yes. Are you still mad?” He asks me. 

“No. Are you still mad?” I inquire while holding my breath for his response. 

“No.  I’m coming home.”

“Ok.”

He got home and we sat in the dark side by side talking. Trying to figure out what is going on. Trying to figure out how to fix our relationship. How to stop hurting one another. 

We talk about some ideas but there’s a sadness in both of us. I cry on and off. Bottom line we are struggling because we don’t have a village. No family here.  No real close friends that we can rely on. No one to help with the big job of parenting. No one to give us a break. We can’t be everything to each. It’s not possible and not healthy. We both chuckle as we agree that our dog is always there for us. At least we can agree on one thing. 

We head to bed, not because we’ve resolved anything, but because we are both exhausted and need rest before any more sleep is lost. 

Maybe today will be a better day.  Today is a new day.