The 2013 holidays were the first I experienced single after many years. My former husband and I were separated and I dreaded the whole season. Comparisons between my current status and the previous year ran through my head like ticker tape. If this is the space you’re in, know that it gets better.
By season two:
- You’ve already broken the news about your relationship in season one.
- You have become acclimated to going to events alone.
- You have gotten used to being the third chair at your married friends’ dining table.
- You feel more comfortable in your own skin.
- You realize you are single by choice; if you really wanted a partner, you could get one.
So what can you do to survive your first set of holidays alone?
Keep low expectations, give yourself permission to say no, and plunge in.
As you may already suspect, there will be the inevitable awkward moments and a seemingly endless array of tacit invitations to explain your newly single status. Know that this is unavoidable. For example, do you send holiday cards? For the people you haven’t already told, won’t they notice there is just one signature? Do you sign your partner’s name and opt to deal with the whole thing later? (I gave myself permission to skip the holiday cards.)
Your Marital Status Is The Least Important Thing About You
And then there are the holiday gatherings and if you are employed, the company party. If you go, how will you explain your absent partner? Will people judge you? Remember that it is your attitude about being divorced or newly single that affects others’ perceptions. Project self-confidence, and showcase your social skills—your ability to be a good host or hostess or your ability to carry on an interesting conversation. Your marital status is the least important thing about you.
The most important thing is to stay with yourself – how will you best take care of you during this challenging time? This is a great opportunity to give yourself permission (guilt-free) to do or not do whatever will help conserve your energy. The good news is that there is only one “first” holiday season being newly single. Once you get through it, you are on the other side!
Feeling lonely and awkward at times is the cost of breaking up. But the benefit is that being alone is healthier and in the long run happier than being part of a dysfunctional dynamic. If you experienced emotional loneliness in your relationship, you know exactly what I mean. You are your own joy potential.
What can you give yourself permission to do that will make the holidays easier?