The holiday season can be an extremely difficult time after a separation or divorce. The challenge of “getting through it” can be exhausting. Everything is different. The family unit has disappeared. The traditions and routines to which you had grown accustomed are gone. All of the joys and comforts of past holidays belong to the life you once led.
Change is everywhere. This year there will be four instead of 14 at your table. Cousins will no longer be around to play with your children. Invitations, which were once a sure thing, will not be extended. The familiarity and predictability of past holidays are gone.
You yearn for the holidays of yesteryear. You want to see the same faces, eat the same food, and maintain the same traditions. You want to stroll down the path of familiarity. You want to have everything to be as it once was. You long for the certainty of the past.
When you do not want to let go of the past, holidays (and the every day) become a struggle. You cling to what was, not because the past was ideal, but because the past was safe. It was predictable and reliable. Even if many of your past holidays were filled with family arguments, burnt food, or lackluster conversations, you cling to the familiarity of those holidays.
By wanting things to remain the same, you reveal your own trepidation about the future. When you yearn for the safety and comfort of days gone by, you highlight your unwillingness to embrace the changing dynamics of your new world. You embolden your inability to accept change.
Change is difficult. It can be scary. Most people spend their lives resisting change. They fight against anything that shakes their sense of certainty. People want to stay within their comfort zones and will thwart off anything that is different. They do not want their relationships, their children, their ideas or beliefs to change. They fear the unknowns that may be lurking behind the doors of change.
Change is inevitable. All living things are dynamic, flowing, and changing. Without change, you would remain stagnant and fail to grow fully. You (and your children) would not mature physically, emotionally, mentally, and consciously. When you want things to remain the same, you stifle your own growth. You become stale. Impermanence allows for growth.
If you do not embrace impermanence, then whenever you see the face of change you will struggle. When your children become teenagers, go off to college, and have lives of their own, you will struggle. When you get wrinkles, age spots, and physically decline, you will struggle. You will face a lifetime of pain and despair if you refuse to accept the impermanence of all living things.
Life Goes On…
Whether you like it or not, life goes on. It does not matter if you wanted a divorce or not, or if your divorce was fair or not, or if your ex is congenial or not. Life goes on. If you fight against the changes that are occurring in your life, then you will create more pain and despair for yourself. You will create a life that is filled with psychological and physiological unrest.
Change is not to be feared. It is not the enemy. Change, in itself, does not cause pain and despair. It is your inability to adapt to change that causes you to struggle. You fear the uncertainty that accompanies change. Always wanting things to be repetitive, predictable, and familiar – clinging to certainty – is your unwillingness to believe that you can handle whatever comes your way. It is your inability to believe in yourself.
This holiday season, make the choice to embrace change. Relish the opportunity to step out of your comfort zone. With every step that you take in your new and ever-changing world, you will be building inner strength. Whenever you adapt to the changes that are presented to you, you will demonstrate to yourself that you have what it takes to succeed at anything.
If your children spend part or all of the holiday with your ex, then embrace the time you have alone. Enjoy your “me time.” Bake cookies for when your children come home, clean the house, catch up on the laundry, take a bath, read a book, journal your thoughts. Do what your heart desires.
If it is just you and your children this holiday season, then start new traditions. Engage in new activities: go sled riding, go bowling, build a snowman, play a board game. Create new memories for you and your children. Do what your children’s hearts desire.
Remember, the choice is yours. You can mope around while your children are with your ex, or even while they are with you. You can wallow in self-pity. You can play the role of the “poor me” victim. You can drag your children down into your hole of pain and despair. Or you can embrace change.
Because of the impermanence of the world, nothing remains the same forever. Therefore, embrace each moment this holiday season. Be present in your life and the lives of your children. Become comfortable with the changing dynamics of the world. Be an example for your children and show them how to embrace change.
The greatest gift that you can give to yourself and to your children is to accept the impermanence of the world. Embrace change.
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