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?

4 thoughts on “Making it through the holidays (you will have to read on to understand!)

  1. Becky

    June 3, 2015  |  11:24 am

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this! This is so timely for me. Since my husband and I were separated during the holidays this past year this is actually better timed for me now than then. We since have been working on reconciling and praying for and working toward full restoration of our marriage but what an incredibly challenging few months it has been.

    I am so thankful to know that I am not the only one that still struggles with something as small as picking out a birthday card. We are going on 2 years post disclosure and it still feels like a weekly-if not daily-struggle to keep my mind in the present and not try to punish him in all kinds of small ways.

    I was beginning to think something was wrong with me and that I was maybe too broken to be fully mended due to some of the ways I have been triggered lately and how I have responded to them. It’s nice to know its normal and I’m not the only one who, even though I do love my husband, still wants to “rip him to shreds” at times. Thank you again Shelley from the bottom of my heart!

    • rlforwomen

      June 3, 2015  |  03:16 pm

      Hi Becky! Let me just assure you, there is nothing wrong with you. You said you and your husband have been separated since the holidays – with that being the case, you are only 5 months into your recovery. I was the same way – always thinking that I should be further along, afraid that I’d never heal and never be able to put the pieces back together. It takes a lot of time and intentional work. You are at the very front end of this recovery. Give yourself all the time you need and embrace the feelings within. If you feel joy, feel joy. If you feel pain, feel pain. If you feel you’d like to “rip him to shreds”, feel like you want to “rip him to shreds.” It’s a roller coaster, that’s for sure. One hour at a time, one day at a time. Thanks for your post, I think it will be so reassuring for others. xoxo-Shelley

  2. Lollie

    June 4, 2015  |  11:50 pm

    We don’t have to forgive perfectly, grieve perfectly, or go through this process perfectly. Jesus bridges the gap for us.
    I love this! I have been super nervous about going on a family vacation with my husband’s family. Not everyone in his immediate family knows the situation and I really don’t want to be fake. I am in the deepest pain I’ve known and I can’t stomach the thought of putting on a happy face when I am anything but. I have decided that I will not put myself in that place just yet. We are three months out and I feel like right now I just need to protect my heart. Thank you for this site and all the honesty that goes with it.

    • rlforwomen

      June 8, 2015  |  08:42 pm

      Lollie, great work doing what you need. You are setting a boundary and protecting yourself. Nobody else will do that for you (well, hopefully your husband in the future, but you know what I mean!). Three months out – you are in the vortex of the storm. It’s all about what YOU need right now. xoxo-Shelley

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