All I Want for Christmas Is…
"For You to Stop Asking Me About my Divorce"
I know, you probably thought that was going to read “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by everyone’s favorite diva, Mariah Carey. According to Bustle, it is the most popular holiday song in the United States (Ernberger, P., 2017). This year, my wants and thoughts surrounding the holiday season are different, and here’s why. The man I vowed to spend the rest of my life with decided that he wanted a divorce, and that brought out a lot of emotions over the last year and a half of my life. I’ve been angry, sad, resentful, relieved, and honestly at moments I didn’t know how I felt. I had never been divorced before, so there were a lot of feelings I can’t name. Now, I know everyone carries their own definition and beliefs around love and the holiday season, however I don’t associate many of the feelings that I previously mentioned with love and the holiday season either.
The holiday season is always tough for me, I lost my grandmother a couple of days after Christmas in 1996 so it is difficult to not associate the holiday season with grief, mourning, and sadness. My grandmother loved the holidays though, so I anticipate all year long for the holidays to arrive. Every year I tell myself that I will cook, decorate, buy or make amazing gifts, host amazing dinner parties, rest, clean, visit all the people I love, sip apple cider, and look absolutely fabulous doing it ALL. The reality is when the holidays arrive, I mostly withdraw and sleep because of the social anxiety that creeps in, my inability to set boundaries around my time, mixed with frustration and sadness I felt from being spread so thin. My ex-husband would typically have to work around the holidays. Therefore, we’d have to plan our travel and trips around our differing schedules and often would drive separately so he could leave to go to work and I could leave to go visit with my family. It was overwhelming and draining. Even in these instances, I can recall looks of disappointment or intrigue in questions from friends and family, “Oh, where’s _____?”, “_____’s not coming?” “You left ______?”. It honestly bothered people that my ex-husband and I were not attached at the hip, which is an aspect of our relationship that I enjoyed and was proud of. I am an independent free spirit, so being able to maintain my identity and freedom in my marriage nourished me. I enjoyed it, but others didn’t approve or understand so it would be a touchy subject because I felt judged or lesser than. This was my first marriage and those microaggressions disguised as innocent, harmless questions sowed seeds of doubt in my mind…Again… Not thoughts, feelings, or ideas I associate with love and the holiday season. With all, you would probably think that I am not looking forward to this holiday season as a 31-year-old divorcee, but that is where you are wrong.
Merriam-Webster has 10 definitions of love as a noun and 4 as a verb. The definition that resonates with me most is “warm attachment, devotion, or admiration”. I have always believed that the holidays are a time of love, laughter, gathering, indulgence, kindness, light, and joy. How could I not look forward to these things? Sharing in love with people I love that love me? Yes, my divorce was unwanted, and I am still very much mourning my marriage and my identity as a wife. I never in a million years thought I would be writing to you as a divorced woman. However, this is my reality shifting into this holiday season, and I must admit that I am determined to create new routines and rituals. 2020, I will shed my toxic relationship with ghosts of holidays past and intend to create new expectations for myself around the holiday season that includes all of the jubilant and vibrant feelings I mentioned above. With my 2020 vision, I will watch Christmas movies that end cornily with the guy getting the hard, callous woman to open her heart to the season and instead of scoffing, I will rejoice because I know that a love like that will come in due time. I will sip apple cider warmed in a crockpot and spike it with libations, assured that the warmth it brings me will remind me of safety and home within myself. I will not put unrealistic expectations on myself to be omnipresent because I am human and know that my body needs rest for me to show up as my best self. I will be intentional and discretionary with who I give my time and intellectual property because I can set boundaries and refuse to give bountifully to scarce minds and ideas. I will give and receive love because the season is love and that is all I have room for in my life at this moment. I have decided to create instead of re-visit.
When looking at the grand scheme of things, my divorce is a very small portion of the sum total of my life and lived experiences. I had 25 Christmases as a single woman and though not perfect, they were beautiful. My divorce does not define me, and I will not let it define my holiday season either. I know the questions will come, I know the judgment may follow, and I know some will feel sadness as they grieve my marriage. This year, these things will not upset me as they once did because I have become self-assured and have the confidence needed to shut down any line of questioning and/or energy that is not in alignment with the feelings I want to experience this holiday season. It’s all starts and ends with me, I GOT THE POWER… In case you didn’t know, you do too 😉. Happy Holidays!