Making it through the holidays (you will have to read on to understand!)
Wednesday, May 27th, 2015
I found this blog post recently. I intended to send it out just before Christmas. But we all know how craZy December can be. And it never made it out.
I was reminded that I had it after a gal in one of my groups courageously opened up about the array of emotions she felt when she went to the store to pick out a card for her husband’s birthday. Her husband has worked hard in his recovery. And so has she. And yet, looking for a card that would mirror how she feels in her heart was, well, impossible. I can SO relate. Keep reading for more…
Special events including birthdays and holidays can be especially difficult for us wives, whether you are two weeks in or two years into your process. I’ve had the chance to dialogue with some of my groups about this over the last month. How do we enjoy the holiday season yet still be true to our current feelings? How do we go to special gatherings with the man that has betrayed us and pretend like everything is fine? How do the holidays not sting and hurt more than any other day?
This is hard. Really hard. For the longest, I used Jason’s birthday as a gauge for the condition of my heart towards him. It was for many many years (probably around 7 to be exact), that I’d go select a card for Jason and as I looked through them, never could find one that didn’t make me want to rip him (and it) to shreds. All that to say, early on, Jason didn’t get a birthday card. And at some point, as my heart started to thaw, I was able to find a simple card that would do. It’s only been in the last four years or so that I’ve been able to select a card for him and felt wholly in agreement with what the card said.
If you find yourself feeling like you are having to wear a mask this holiday season, here’s what I’d like to tell you:
- Listen sweets (this is a name I use with much adoration and affection), it’s not going to be this way forever. I pinky-swear promise.
- You’re in good company. I’ve been there and so has every other woman that shares a similar story.
- Depending on your life stage and the family and friends you are going to be with, it’s okay to give yourself permission to unplug from your present reality and allow yourself to enjoy the day (with or without your husband).
- Even this (see preceding point) will take a lot of work. You may have to do a “brain stop” every ten seconds. (A brain-stop is when you stop yourself as your mind starts to wander and conjure up the past. You can say “STOP!” out loud, or to yourself. Just know that your family may give you strange looks if you say this out loud.)
- It’s also okay to open your hands wide and grieve hard. Get it out. Know that God meets you where you are. He’s kept a record of your every tear (psalm 56:8).
- Gently speak truth to yourself: It’s because of Jesus that we don’t have to be perfect. We don’t have to forgive perfectly, grieve perfectly, or go through this process perfectly. Jesus bridges the gap for us.
Wishing each of you a very merry Christmas. I’m so thankful for YOU. And I’m so looking forward to what 2015 has in store.
Love – Shelley
I guess I should say, wishing you a happy summer! And I AM so thankful for each and every one of you. What about you – have you found it especially difficult to celebrate an anniversary, birthday or other holiday? Does it give you peace to know it took me 7-8 years before my heart was aligned with the birthday cards I perused at the store?