The holidays are here.
What used to be a time of celebrating family and friends with time honored tradition is now a physical and emotional obstacle course. Whose house? Who will be there? What about the children, especially when the court says one thing and the family says another?
Maybe you plan on spending holiday time with your gay ex, but the rest of the family doesn’t approve now that they know the secret. Maybe you wanted to accept your former in laws invitation but then you find out they invited the new boyfriend you haven’t met yet – and you better make nice for the sake of the children. Besides, grandma will be so disappointed if you dont come. Maybe your lesbian ex has planned the perfect holiday trip with your children, without even consulting you, effectively cancelling the simple but important celebrations you planned to share with your children. And you realize – your role is no longer that of a family member but of a spoiler. The truth of your life is an unwelcome part of the script, so it becomes necessary to rewrite the family story, casting you as the one who ruins all the fun.
In the middle of all the drama, you are angry at missing out on all the celebration and festivity going on around you. So many of us feel as if we have been cast aside, thrown away, discarded – and the holidays remind us of this because we no longer fit the celebrations or expectations of our families and friends. Or you might be included but the expectations are clear – don’t make anyone else uncomfortable.
The best thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones in a holiday season that follows disclosure, discovery, or divorce is to go forward. Recognize that this is a transition. Spend the time with people who support you. And you’ll find that being open to new traditions is a great pathway to healing for yourself and your family.
Don’t be afraid to be clear about what you need and want. And don’t be shy about setting boundaries concerning topics or behavior that are insensitive to you.
If you are separated or divorced and the holiday coincides with your time with the children, don’t be afraid to set limits about joining traditional gatherings that now make you uncomfortable. Make your own plans as benefits you and your children. All the wonderful presents from the in laws who now despise you and show it will still be there, or they can be presented in advance or later. Its still special to the kids. And if you don’t have the kids this holiday and find yourself alone – again make new traditions. Find new people. Do something for you that you have always wanted to do. And be sure to set aside a time to have a special celebration with your children before or after they are to be with the other parent.
It’s still a holiday, it’s still special, and it can still be wonderful. Set realistic expectations, acknowledge how you feel, and plan some enjoyment and down time for yourself. YOU are worth celebrating!