How Can I Get Through the Holidays?

It’s scary, isn’t it? You’re heading into a period when everybody expects you to be smiling, and happy, and full of good cheer, and it feels like somebody ripped your skin off.

Divorce stinks. And it probably stinks more during the holidays than in any other time of year.

Okay, so how do you get through it? First, you acknowledge to yourself that this is going to be a painful time, that you’re going to be miserable during this time when everybody around you seems to be enjoying being with their family. And you might as well acknowledge that even while you’re miserable, you’re going to end up deciding to hide that misery from a lot of people during the holidays.

So now it comes down to planning. Think through in advance, to the extent you can, whom you’re going to confide in about your feelings, and who you’re going to do the stiff upper lip thing with.

You’ll want to choose your confidants carefully. You need friends for a particular purpose, and you probably want to avoid your perky sister-in-law who knows everything’s going to work out if you’ll just pray a little harder.

But you should probably also avoid people who are always unhappy. You’re going to be morose enough this holiday season. You don’t need to surround yourself with people who sort of like for you to be unhappy, because they long for a “cruddy buddy.”

Once you know who you’re going to be confiding in, you’ll want to tell them candidly what you’re planning to do, and how they can help you get through this. Then use them.

Your friends, your family, your minister, your counselor, they all want to help. But they’ll be focused on their own holiday rituals, and they won’t know how much you need them unless you’re willing to ask for help.

What else can you do? Quick, grab your calendar. You know what you normally commit to do during the holidays, and you know how exhausted you get as a result. Now assume that you’re going to have about half as much energy, maybe a third as much energy.

You must be brutal. Cut back to those things that only you can do. Typically, that means you’re going to focus on those special times you have with your children and the special times with your immediate family.

But do you really have to be the one who hosts the office party this year? Maybe, maybe not.

Also, watch the money. If you haven’t already figured it out, you will. Divorce is expensive, and the cost of living after divorce will almost certainly be higher than you expect. You’re probably feeling badly about the unpleasantness your divorce is causing for your children, and you may be tempted to do something really nice for them because you know they deserve it. Resist the temptation to spend lots of money this year. You’ll almost certainly need it later, and you’ll wish you had been more frugal with your gift-giving.