I did it! I made it through Christmas, and New Year's, and...I'm ok, even better than ok. I knew I had a minor breakthrough when I didn't want to take down the Christmas decorations this year. It was a bit sad, putting away the ornaments, stockings and mistletoe. The lights will stay up outside for another few weeks, yay!
This was the seventh Christmas since my split with my ex. Holidays have been excruciating since the breakup. Why was this year different? Time. For one thing, it just takes time. These healing years cannot be rushed. I read in one of my divorce books that for every five years you were with the person, expect at least one year of recovery. So, I was with my ex for 25 YEARS putting me at a healing/moving on timeframe of 5 years post breakup. Or, is it post divorce? Whatever it is, it isn't a hard and fast rule, just a guideline.
My people. I was able to spend just the right amount of quality time with my boys, my niece, my friends and my man-friend/main squeeze. I made a lot of effort to buy and wrap gifts and to cook delicious meals. This kind of thing makes me happy when it's appreciated. I felt all was appreciated this year. That is meaningful to me.
We watched "It's a Wonderful Life," we played a silly dice/gambling game, we hiked on Christmas day, we played bocce ball, we listened to Christmas tunes, we hung out, we laughed, we cooked together, we just enjoyed each other's company. All of those things bring meaning to holidays for me.
I stumbled upon a poem I wrote the first Christmas after the split. It is raw and even reading it now brings up sadness for me. But I'm including it here because I've come so far since writing it that it feels good to know moving on (even during the holidays) is possible when you keep using those healing tools in your toolbox.
Here's the poem I wrote in December, 2011. I split with my ex the previous April.
The carved wooden bar
A towering Christmas tree
Annual cheer, smiles, hugs, chatter
Dozens and more, tapering to
Now I know
Now I know
Stolen glances, secret moments
Now I know
Now I know
Ghosts of holiday parties past
By: Kerry Lea
This poem is filled with the sadness of "how could I have been so naive, so trusting?" I performed at all of those work parties for him. I wore black gowns, I had my hair done, got a french manicure. I played the part. I wasn't miserable, but it was an effort, and one that I can only hope was in some way appreciated by him.
The intent here isn't to go back down the rabbit hole and relive the sadness of that first holiday, post breakup. The intent of this post is to be thankful that I've come as far as I have and can honestly feel that I had a really good Christmas and New Year's this year.
But it takes work, and time. It takes a ton of resilience to bounce, or crawl back from a loss like a betrayal. If you keep working at it, it does get better. The things I do to keep moving forward are: writing, reading self help books, yoga, chats with friends, trying new things (like Pickleball!), meditation, prayer, creating art, taking new classes, exercise, cooking new foods, going on yoga retreats, hiking, going to shows, getting out of my comfort zone, and expressing gratitude whenever I think of it.
I'll close with a picture of a watercolor I painted (from a class) just before the holidays. I love it and am excited about continuing to create art this year. It's very healing for me.
Snowy Cabin in the Woods by KLTD