I’m divorcing the holidays this year. There is nothing about the upcoming festive season that seems particularly joyful to me at this moment, and were it not for the fact that my skin hasn’t turned green, I’d be inclined to think that I may have a kindred connection with the Grinch. You might expect that I’d be more comfortable with navigating the holidays on my own, what with four years of divorce tucked neatly into my back pocket. But, no. Not this year. This year, as the city dresses itself warmly with holiday lights and love, as families and couples exit the snow-filled landscape, I’m agitated with a Whoville-loathing crankiness, and I’d place bets that many unattached divorced men and women will be sharing my killjoy disposition. I’m not ashamed to say it: This year I’m feeling alone.
I had a significant guy in my life for a decent chunk of time in these past four years. For a few spins on the Earth’s axis he rocked my world, and the holidays with him felt electrifying. Now I’m sitting this one out on my own. Adding fuel to the fire of my burning lonesomeness is the fact that my ex-husband will be tenderly prying my two children from my locked embrace to enjoy a six-day winter wonderland up north. In past years I would be doing a rather large happy dance at the opportunity to be without kids for a stretch of time, but this year it is going to hit me hard.
This coming week I will have to stomach countless superficial exchanges among acquaintances, each of us passing holiday pleasantries back and forth, and too many lovely human beings will ask me what my travel plans are for the weeks ahead. I will force myself through these conversations ostensibly cheerful, but if I wasn’t so afraid to shock people with my raw honesty, I’d sooner tell them my living truth: Where am I travelling for the holidays? Thanks for asking, but I’m divorced! I have no significant man to escape the city with, but Lord if I did would I ever bolt… My body is itching like crazy for adventure. My family? Of course, I love my parents and siblings desperately, but it’s quite obvious to all of my blood-kin that I’m carrying some sort of recessive gene for adventure, an allele rarely expressed in the pedigree of our family tree. They won’t travel off the beaten path! My closest friends? Well, the ones that I hold so tightly in my heart and that give me strength are deservingly jetsetting with their nuclear families to sun-kissed destinations. Travel alone you say? Ah yes, I’ve done it before and you can bet that I’ll be doing it again. But…can you hear that noise? It’s ringing incessantly in my ears. Oddly only I can hear it, but it screams at me like a deafening fire alarm, jostling my brain with worry every time I consider spending money on myself. I think it must be Life’s loud reminder that my cash should be better spent on my children, and since my kids are living in two separate homes, the cost of living comfortably stretches a bit beyond your presumed baseline measure. I have expenses with my name on it, and my name alone, and I won’t live beyond my means. I also won’t be relying on my ex-husband to maintain my standard of living and I’m not too comfortable around divorced women who do. My kids? My incredible children have learned early the value of a dollar. They are grounded and wise and understand that true wealth should be measured only by the quality of time spent with those they love.
So there it is. My living truth, and seemingly Life’s lesson to me for the holiday season: To stay in the discomfort of where I am at this moment in time – Alone and wanting. In my past, I would have satiated this loneliness by distracting myself with dating, with exercise, with work, and with the busyness of parenting my children. But, not this year. I’ve been living a genuine and authentic life ever since the day of my separation and it means I will be showing up to my truth, to honour my feelings, and to get real comfortable with who I am stripped free of all of my diversions. It means sitting quietly in the loneliness and loving myself straight through it, even if that also means that there will be no warm destinations this year, no one to escape the snow with, and only my own reflection looking back at me for six solid days.