I saw a post on Facebook that I wanted to share. Imagine that you’ve been planning a trip to Italy. You’re so excited. You’ve been dreaming about going to Italy your whole life. You have planned a full and detailed itinerary. You step off the plane, but you’re not in Italy. You’re in Greece. The plane has left. It’s too late; you’re stuck. This is not what you had planned. This is not what you dreamed about and what you’ve been looking forward to. You cry and you curse. What terrible luck. How terribly unfair.
You finally gather yourself and start exploring your surroundings. This isn’t what you had planned, but really, it’s beautiful, too.
That Facebook post wasn’t about traveling. It wasn’t about divorce either, but I think it fits here, too.
Divorce is hard. Facing your first holiday after filing for divorce is hard. It is easy to think about how things were and to be sad. It is easy to mourn all that you’ve lost and how things won’t be the same anymore. This life you see before you isn’t at all what you had dreamed of. No one imagines having to share their children during the holidays.
Give yourself some time to grieve and to feel those very real and very understandable emotions.
Remember though, Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful. This is your new normal, and although it isn’t just what you planned, it can also be beautiful.
You’re going to have to learn to be flexible. Instead of staying with sadness because you have to share your children for the holidays, focus on the fact that your children get to have twice the holidays – twice the food, twice the celebrations – and most importantly, the love of both parents. Try not to complain in front of the children about having to share them. Children often feel guilty about having to leave a parent during the holidays. Knowing how you feel about it only makes it worse for them.
The holidays may be lonelier than they have been in the past. Try to fully enjoy the time you have with the children, and then try to enjoy the quiet downtime you have. Take some time to soak in the bath or read a book.
Make a list of things you’re thankful for. Divorce is hard because it’s an ending of a relationship and a life you’ve known. It’s also a beginning of a new life, and although it seems dark and confusing at times, there is hope and beauty there if you just look.