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Dear Chump Lady, How do I make it through the holidays?

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holly_petraeusHappy Thanksgiving, CN! It’s that season again and if you’re in a bit of a holiday slump, this goes one out to you. For the survivors of previous sucky holidays, tell the new ones how you did it in the comments. Thanks! — Tracy

Dear Chump Lady,

I am six months out from separation. Facing holidays alone with three grade school age boys. Friends all happily married (for the most part). Family all happily married.

I need any and all survival tips. The closer it gets to Christmas, the more easily I cry. I can’t stand to open Christmas cards from friends because their beautiful intact families reminds me of my broken family thanks to my cheating husband.

Offers of help and generous gifts from neighbors and congregation members just make me feel inadequate as a mom. I don’t want to be known as “the single mom” of the neighborhood, but I will be.

Divorce is amicable so far, which is a huge blessing; but about 45 days away from being able to be finalized.

All of it is still surreal. When I calculated today that I had asked him to move out exactly six months ago, I couldn’t believe that much time has past. It feels like I have been treading water without help for only a month or two.

It is a relief to not have the tension and day to day interactions with STBX. However, I am mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted. All of you who have been single parents know that this is one tough gig! And relief every other weekend isn’t even close to enough time to catch up on everything that falls by the wayside when you are doing it alone.

I don’t know if everything is compounded because of Christmas. Or if my new reality is just settling in and I am scared to death to raise my sons without a full-time support system.

I figured this was the best place to go for ideas on how to make it through the next three weeks and make it as good a holiday season as possible!

Next year has to be better, right?!

LimboLand

Dear LimboLand,

Some holidays suck. When things suck — let them suck. You’ve been separated for 6 months. Your divorce isn’t finalized. You’re trying to get used to your new reality during a season of oppressive bonhomie. Who can blame you for occasional fits of weepiness? Even the sturdiest of us reel at the disconnect between our drab, ordinary lives and the manic imperative to be fabulous at the holidays. What? You don’t have your presents wrapped in artisan, wood-block print paper made by free-range lepers in India? You didn’t translate those Christmas cookie recipes from the original German? Didn’t you get invited to that party? You know, the one with the live nativity outside and the imported camels? No? Oh. Sorry.

I guess only the Intact, Happy, Married people were invited.

Please stop comparing yourself. Not every intact family is beautiful. Many of them are flaming cauldrons of dysfunction. And yes, some are happy. Be happy for them. The world needs all the sane, happy people it can get. Your problem is you need to expand your notion of “beautiful” and “intact.” You have custody of three boys. You’re at the helm. That’s an intact family. You’re just missing a fucktard, which is not missing much.

Yes, single parenting is hard work. But single parenting is not LESS THAN. It doesn’t mean you’re defective. Frankly, I found single parenting much, much easier than parenting in a bad marriage. In my first marriage, I paid the mortgage, all my own bills, my car, my son’s childcare, pre-school. I had a surly husband who didn’t much want to hang out with me, and the full weight of his untreated mental illness. I realized I was already a single parent. I didn’t have a fully invested partner. Having him out of the house was liberating and, hey, at least it was honest.

You were married to a cheater. No matter how many soccer games he attended, or bills he paid, that man was not a fully invested partner, in your marriage or in your family life. He directed his resources at fucking around on you. You’re mourning what you thought you had, how you enjoyed being perceived, not who he really was.

You don’t want to be known as the single mom? You ARE a single mom. Wear it as a badge of honor. You’re freaking HEROIC. You’re raising three boys on your own. This is your chance to raise good men with YOUR values. Did you really want to stay “intact” with that man and model to your sons that husbands and fathers cheat? And women must eat that shit sandwich and let the man enjoy his side-dish fuck entitlement?

Or do you want them to know that women are strong and life has deal breakers — and if you fuck with someone’s dignity and betray them, you will find your ass divorced?

Divorce is not failure. Cheating is failure. The shame of infidelity is not your shame to wear. I realize this is not how you expected your life to turn out, but it’s the rare person whose life turns out how they expected. And those people are dull and risk adverse. Intact can be enviable, it can also be boring as hell. And smug.

LimboLand, trust that in time you will find your sea legs on this parenting thing and you will have better days ahead, and yes, even happy holidays. But right now, you’re in crisis. Your world just got turned on its head. You are blessed that you are surrounded by kind people who want to help you. Accept the help. You know how you keep good people in your life? You let them help you. Don’t shoo them away. Be gracious, accept their kindness, and do a good turn for them later, when you’re able.

Reciprocity is what makes a relationship healthy. That means you don’t always get to be the giver. It means you also have to accept taking — graciously. That can be humbling for the more control freaky of us chumps. Makes us feel vulnerable. If you’ve been with a narcissist, you’re expecting that score card. Shit, I’m going to owe you and this is not going to be pretty. 

No. Some people are actually nice. Take the fucking casserole. Say yes to the babysitting. ENCOURAGE these people. Keep them close and do not reject them because you fear being pitied. That’s about you and you internalizing Single Mother is Less Than. They don’t see you that way. They see you as a lovely person who is in crisis and alone for the holidays, who could use some bolstering.

I could not have done single parenting without a lot of help. I had a dear friend who had my son for sleepovers every time I had to travel for work, or even sometimes when I had a date. And every chance I got, I reciprocated. I took her sons. Nearly every weekend I had a motley assortment of boys at my house. I looked for opportunities to do for my friends because I KNEW I was going to need their help too.

Being a single parent can open up your world in new ways, and deepen friendships. “Intact” families can be very isolating. As you build this new life, build a tribe. Lots of people are cribbing it together, doing this parenting stuff by the seat of their pants, even the married ones. Make some more friends.

But for now, just get through the holidays. Focus on your kids, making their Christmas bright. Create some new traditions (cookies for breakfast!) Relax. Please don’t spend those precious kid-free weekends doing chores. Enjoy some self-care. Watch a movie. Have coffee with a friend. Blob in your pajamas. You deserve it.

This new stage of life isn’t a punishment, it’s a gift. I know it doesn’t feel that way now — but you’ll get there. I promise.

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Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Christmas is as YOU understand it. Let go of the shoulda, have tos, need tos. Keep it simple. Read about Christmas in Little House on the Prairie. The children got ORANGES for Christmas and a stick of peppermint! Feel the feelings…don’t pretend. When I was in grief counseling after my father’s death in 1991, they gave me a checklist of all the typical holiday traditions. There were then four columns. Do you want to do it? Do you enjoy doing it? Can you delegate it? Would it be Christmas without it? The earth is NOT going to crash into the sun if you don’t send cards. Tbis worksheet gave me permission to celebrate as I wanted. One year Thanksgiving was dinner at the Mountain Home on Mount Tamalpais followed by a walk on Stinson Beach. Don’t force or expect yourself to feel other than you do.
    My Christmas is going to be very simple, very spontaneous, very emotional. In my case also very spiritual. The fastest way to feel better is to FEEL.

    PS…I was a housekeeper for many years and most of my clients were insane over the holidays…the house needs to be remodeled for Christmas! And NO ONE noticed but the freaked-out client that the house had been remodeled, spit polished, redecorated and sanitized.

    • PS….I was so shattered last year that I didn’t even put up a tree….now that I think about it, Mr. Probably Just Pretending To Want To Reconcile So He Wouldn’t Look Like The Jerk He Is By Abandoning Us Over The Holidays didn’t step up and put a tree up either. My daughter was ten and to me it felt like a major mom sin to not put the tree up! Well, she doesn’t even remember. I don’t remember every single detail of every Christmas and neither will your children or you or anyone else. You are in the Emotional ICU after emotional homicide committed against you….keep it simple and do it your way and be at peace that compassionate people totally get it.

      • I didn’t put up a tree last year, either, and my daughter was 11. The only person who tried to make me feel guilty about it was my mom.

        A guy friend of mine – whose ex-wife cheated on him – told me that this Thanksgiving, instead of doing the traditional menu, he and his kids were going to eat foods that they are grateful for – like pizza, mac n cheese and ice cream. I love that.

    • For the past 10 years, I have participated in a local county program, ReinDear, where donors buy gifts for a child. In the past, I have donated to one child. This year, I’m buying for two. I have my health, a job, a roof over my head and food in the fridge. Knowing that a mother or father will have something for their child brings a peace to my soul.

      • Right now, I’m waiting in my volunteer position for the Turkey Trot to start. This afternoon I get to spend with my two young adult children and two of their friends. How cool is that?

        Two years ago, and two months after DDay, I spent a lovely weekend with a couple at their cabin. Cell service was rotten so I just turned off my phone. So healing!

        Holidays are much nicer if I’m just grateful for whatever I have or make of the moment.

  • Christmas was so much better without the fuckwit barking out his orders. Of course it was never Christmas until he made one of the boys cry either – he’s very giving like that. No more fuckwit passed out drunk in the afternoon either. Now I do Christmas exactly how I want it. I hate making turkey for Christmas so it’s anything but. Don’t idiolize what Christmas might have been like in the past (although maybe there were some good bits) – don’t forget the negatives too. Was he sneaking off texting Schmoopie in the bathroom, did everything have to be HIS way? How about Chump Lady’s idea – cookies for breakfast! Who gives a shit as long as the kids like it! Start new traditions for just you and your boys. Let things slide if the have to but enjoy your children! It will get better – much better in fact!

  • Living in limbo is the hardest part many of us have faced. Learning that your very foundation was built on nothing but lies is devastating. No one can jump up from that and be Mr. or Ms. Perfect in the aftermath of so much pain. Please don’t be so hard on yourself and learn to let the little (yes they are relatively SMALL) messes of real living slide. Floors need cleaning again – oh well. That bathroom needs to be cleaned (yeah – three boys) but oh well. In time you will find the energy to tackle these chores but in the meantime focus on yourself and your boys and don’t sweat the small stuff.

    Holidays are the hardest for sure but remember that you have a lot to be thankful for (especially that your POS is soon to be out of your life) and you will be okay in time.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all of Chump Nation and Chump Lady (and the Mr. too). And for our overseas friends – have a Happy Day! Hugs to all.

  • Pick your battles (so to speak). House not spotless? As long as it’s not a health hazard, who cares about a dust bunny or water spot here and there. No time to decorate? Enlist your kids to help decorate. What will come out of that won’t be perfect, but it will be fun, and it will be all family – what could be more important than that? Same with holiday baking and cooking. Enlist the kids, start new traditions, give up trying to “keep up appearances” and just enjoy.

    Our first Christmas after the separation was small. My son (who was 10 at the time) and I were living in a one-bedroom apartment in a not-so-good neighborhood. We had very little that we had been able to take with us when we moved, and my then-job didn’t pay so well. But we had each other. We started new traditions and we had fun without having to worry about the killjoy we had been living with. That was six years ago. Now I have a better job, and we were able to get our first small house in a better neighborhood a couple of years ago. But we still do those traditions we made that first year. One of which is the treetopper. My 10yo picked it out at the dollar store, it’s a star covered in gold glitter with a light inside. He loved that star on top of the tree. Last year I tried to use a new treetopper that frankly, looks a lot less tacky lol but the 15yo wasn’t having it. We had to have his star on top. Not even going to try for a new treetopper this year (I learned lol). We will have his tacky gold glitter star on top because it makes us both smile and remember the good memories. 🙂

  • This is my first holiday season alone, so I don’t have much advice to give, but I was dreading the opening of holiday cards as well. So I booked a photography session for me and my two little girls. I replaced all of our hanging family pictures with the cheater AND ordered holiday cards. Even though it’s only the three of us in the cards- they look adorable, and we all look happy. That might not be how I look all the time, but I hope it’s a glimpse of what’s ahead!

    • Moving along,Wishing you a peaceful holiday. Look for the quiet joy and it won’t disappoint. The stars, moon, sunshine, rain. There is beauty in everything. I’m convinced it’s the little things that matter. All the new traditions are yours and your new cards are a beautiful start.
      To all above, you are MIGHTY, and resilient. I hope you have joy in your day!
      Fir me, strange has been the new normal since my life changed so drastically three years ago. I don’t look for familiarity, but try to redefine and revel in that. Off to start cooking! It’s a beautiful day and two of my three will be here. 🙏

  • Exactly CL, intact families can be very isolating! I was very much alone when married to the n-ex. He damaged relationships with family, neighbours, and friends, till we were all alone on holidays. I have so much more variety now, it’s infinitely less depressing. It is not perfect, but it is ‘normal’ because the people around me are decent and honest.

    Different isn’t always worse in the long run.

  • Needed this today. I’m much further out than six months but just settled the divorce which will leave the kids and I homeless. Trying to keep it together for the holidays.

    Thanks for the positive words.

  • I’m sitting here with dog and cats, and a warm cup of coffee. For 18 years, I got up and was whirlwind of activity for entire day. Today, I’m going to watch the Parade. Later, I’m taking deviled eggs (how easy is that) to my cousin’s family (her dad’s side). I know a few of them and it will be good for me to be with a different crowd this year.

    On the inside, I’m struggling. My first Thanksgiving without the Dickhead and my stepkids, and the first Thanksgiving without my mom. I miss those days of feeling part of something. Spent so many years and so much of my time taking care of others that I have no idea how to take care of just me, or even know what I need or want.

    The Dickhead said I was unhappy. Perhaps I was but I didn’t feel depressed. It wasn’t till recently that I realized that he sucked the joy out of everything. I used to be an optimistic and happy person. I’m afraid that I will never find that joy again and it brings tears to my eyes. I’m also pissed and hurt because he brought up that I mentioned the lack of happiness and used it as way to say that we needed to divorce. He took the life out me and then threw me away when I had nothing left.

    • Miss Bailey
      My heart goes out to you. You have nothing left of the old you, but a new butterfly will emerge. I have a cat snuggled up and my two aussies wrestling near by and a cup of coffee too. I am not with my mother (final stages of alzheimers) for thanksgiving but will be there at Christmas. I can’t even BEGIN to come close to the wonderful holidays she created but I’m reminiscing a lot this morn, and feel very sad and meloncholy. Soon I will get up and start my own holiday. And try to honor her memory (she no longer knows it’s a holiday or talks or can move much) by taking a long walk and count my blessings. I’ll get two of my three that are coming and cut down a tree and watch Holiday movies. And I’ll be great dyl that I have such a big hole in my heart because that means that an AMAZING mother took up so much space. Peace and quiet joy to you.

      • Thank you Cat and hugs to you. Carry her love with you and let it guide you. They only not only gave love but showed how to love with our whole hearts. Peace to you, too.

    • It’s also my first Thanksgiving without my mother. She died less than 2 months ago at 91. She was a giving & loving Mom & Grandma until her last days. This year will be hard.
      Glad you have someone to spend it with! Sharing time with others is good for our emotional & physical health.
      (((HUGS))) to you all.

      • And to you! I’m so sorry for your loss, the holidays make it so tough. I hope you carry her with you in your heart during these tough days and that it sustains you.

      • Losing a mother with whom you were close, is a curse and a blessing. It means she was someone to emulate, and the loss is real, and profound. It’s a reflection of who they were in our lives, and I am grateful my mom was hilarious and loving to me and my siblings and children.

        Losing the DOCTOR hurt a lot – because I really loved who I thought he was and because it’s so very unfair. But it’s survivable and with consistent effort, which I need to improve upon, I do remind myself of how difficult he had become.

        It should not matter how “happy” he acts or claims to be with schmoopie. That’s my ego talking, (and that’s me believing his spin), instead of saying “Thank God he’s gone, she can have him”, which is my goal.

        But – when I think of my mom and what I’d say to her if I could reach her, it brings tears to my eyes. I usually believe she knows what’s going on in my life and is sending her humor and strength and that helps.

        Maybe trusting that they suck – means trusting that we will be happier in time. I have had moments where I know I am better off, but they are not as frequent as I need them to be…YET…anyhow, I’m meeting 2 of my 3 in Nice, France for the holidays so I will spend a lot but it sure makes this living overseas (an adventure I decided to embark upon, which did not take into account that teaching English only gets you meeting students)…thing a lot easier knowing I’ll see my kids soon.

        You are not alone.

    • MissBailey, I so relate! X said (after getting caught, wouldncha know!) that I was an unhappy miserable person (and therefore his dick just had to poke into any willing twat?!….. no!, just no! Classic illogical blameshifting). I wasn’t miserable or unusually unhappy UNTIL after DDay and the aftermath!

      4 years out and I’m filled with peace and joy! Hosting today, table set, kids and extended family coming this afternoon. Wonderful, loyal, devoted mensch boyfriend and I are hosting our first holiday together — we moved in to a rented beautiful home of our dreams 7 months ago. Our kids are settled and content. X who? He took his disordered self into his new life with AP #xxx??!!! They are miserable and unhappy – not my problem!

      After 26 years together and being blindsided I thought I would never be happy or filled with joy again… how wrong I was! The healing really picks up pace after the divorce is final and no contact becomes second nature. I promise!

    • MissBailey, you put in words how I feel. Cheater would say I was never happy and could never be happy. I felt happy and couldn’t understand why he thought I wasn’t happy. I’d then avoid voicing any concerns or my dislike of anything as not to be accused of being unhappy.
      One morning he was up before me, as I was walking towards the kitchen I asked if he’d made coffee, he replied with his condescending tone, “are you bitching again?” I only asked a question, but he insisted I was “bitching”.
      Ex did his best to suck the joy out of Holidays, standing back, looking miserable, finding fault in everything.

      I’m working on taking care of myself, after many years of putting myself last.. gradually becoming the confident, optimistic, happy person I once was before the imposter entered my life.

    • “Spent so many years and so much of my time taking care of others that I have no idea how to take care of just me, or even know what I need or want.”

      Me, exactly. I am only now realizing how everything about all holidays fell on me. He would say about the Christmas tree that I decorated “oh, you do that for yourself”…my wonderful Thanksgiving, “you do that to show off”. I got no help ever. I am two years post divorce and doing absolutely nothing for the holidays. Am still trying to figure out why in the world I allowed him to treat me that way. I am learning to now set boundaries.

      • Everything about our life fell on me – bills, housework, laundry, phone calls, grocery shopping, playing taxi for my 2 stepkids when they were in school, holidays, lawn mowing. I look back and realized that I did so much, worked a full-time job and visited my mother twice a week at her assisted-living facility. He hardly ever cooked dinner, never offered to do laundry, and sure as hell wasn’t going to lift a finger to help around the house. I was fricking nuts to do all that and not insist on him helping. Oh ya, I know I never asked -but it would have led into a discussion about how he worked weekend and I knew when I married him that he didn’t do housework. Somehow I was expected to change but he got to change nothing. I was out of mind to have loved him.

  • This time last year I was making Thanksgiving dinner for cheater XW and her happy band of family members just like I did all the previous years. I agreed to joint Thanksgiving even though I was about 6 months post Dday (but had not yet filed) because I thought it would be best for the kiddo to give her some ‘normalcy’. None of my family members came- I understood- it would have felt odd- I had told cheater 4 months earlier that fake marriage counseling was over and we needed to hammer out a divorce. She was delaying and I was wringing my hands before finally getting a lawyer. I cooked, I ate, I fake smiled for the kid. As a I sat there I thought to myself “I wonder who is going to cook these fuckers their dinner next year”. I smiled for real then.

    One year later I’m cooking dinner for me and my kid and my family. Kiddo told her mom that she wanted to spend the day with me, not her. Don’t know what next year will look like so I’m just going to focus on this year. One day at a time. One holiday at a time.

    Time to create new traditions and maximize the time with your kid. Life changes and you have to adjust. Don’t wilt. Sadness is inevitable when you go through this, but you get to decide what do with your life after the tears. Fill the time and create new positive memories.

    All ready planning making homemade Christmas ornaments, going to a high school orchestra holiday performance, and taking her to a minor league hockey game. It’s a new life.

  • I feel you. Holidays are hard. My advice? Be around people as much as you can and take all the help offered.

    I got married the day after Thanksgiving. So the holidays and my anniversary are all wrapped up into one. My cheater went the abandoning Route. Instead of divorcing me, he has simply set up house with his affair partner and her kids ( I always wanted kids and didn’t have them because he didn’t want them ) and is living as though never even existed.

    For my part, I have advanced cancer, which I was diagnosed with after he left. It didn’t prompt him to man up and communicate with me or help me financially. Instead, he changed his phone number. So everyone around me will have to forgive me if my holiday cheer is not up to par. Don’t get me wrong, I can pretend with the best of them. I’m doing the best I can. And you will do the best you can. And that’s all any of us can do.

    • Sending big hugs Susie. What a difficult time for you. You don’t HAVE to feel happy, just try to do some things for yourself today. I hope you give thanks that someone so shallow will be out of your life, and find that void refilled with loving people that have integrity and good values.

    • This is why cheating should be a crime.
      Sweet Smoking Jesus. You have my deepest heartfelt sympathy. Sending a virtual hug, blankie, and turkey soup.

    • Susie – big hugs to you. Like Mitz said – no one to trick or cheat us anymore! That goes to the AP now. What the AP doesn’t get is that the cold cruel treatment their “love” did to us – they are fully capable of dishing out to them when the “fun” wears off. One time years ago I had an ex boyfriend’s girlfriend call me whining about how badly he treated her. And I was free! My ex husband abandonded us to move in with young coworker. Now she has a cheating surly father for her child. I spoke to him over the phone for the first time in about 3 years. He was hyper and spastic – no peace in him at all. Maybe you will heal better with him gone! Prayers. Hugs.

    • Dear Susie.
      Last Thanksgiving I was so sick from the recent op and chemo I could not get out of bed. This year is better, but I still do not feel up to crowds. So I fixed me and the dogs just what we wanted, and will now rest.

      I am so sorry that we are in this place. I hope you recover and find a new life. I begin to believe I will. One simple thing at a time. One beautiful day at a time.

      With love and every support

    • Hi Susie, big ((((((HUGS)))))) to you today and the rest of the holiday season. I hope you have friends and/or family around you today.

    • Dear Susie,
      My heart breaks. You will be in my thoughts and prayers this entire season for sure. I am so sorry that you are in this place. No one deserves this treatment. I hope that you have good family and friends around you. You deserve all good things.
      Hugs.

    • Susie, sending you strength and my well wishes.
      I am thankful this year for people like you who are caring people with strong character (no mater what life throws your way). You make the world a better place. Thank you
      Wishing you the happiness you deserve.

    • Susie, you haven’t divoreced yet? Have you filed? There are many legal implications. You said he had not? You don’t have to wait on him to go first? I am sorry about your situation but you don’t want him to be making any decisions for you do you? I hope you have an attorney and if you don’t please get one.

      • Unfortunately, I spent thousands on legal fees before I was diagnosed and was just about to file but then was diagnosed and had to move to another state (therefore, requiring me to wait to meet the residency requirement). Now I’m out of work and completely and utterly financially devastated, no money for any lawyer and can’t find any legal help.

  • I gave Nowdeadcheater thousands of chances to be decent and he blew the vast majority of them.

    The last Christmas he was alive, he threw a typical temper tantrum when the tree fell over and tried to drag it through the house and throw it in the back yard (mind you this is BEFORE Christmas, so we still needed a dang tree). One problem was his toxic rage, another problem was the fact the heirloom ornaments were on the tree he was trying to destroy.

    My oldest child met him in the kitchen – mid drag – and told him (adult to adult) that we simply weren’t doing this.

    Thank you sweet baby Jesus.

    and like most cheaters, his last holiday with his family sucked because he did. And it was profoundly tragic…for him….his last chance to do be decent and he blew it. Tragic.

    This Christmas is the first one where I dont plan to put up a tree because on Christmas Day me, newhusband and our daughters will be on the Mediterranean between Barcelona and Marseilles. On New Years Ever we will be in a Medieval tower in Rome.

    As I share here, results will vary, but on those Christmases with rage and misery, I never imagined Barcelona. I wish you peace, calm and healing now with lovely Christmases of goodness and cheer in the future not peppered with pain & tears.

    • Unicornnomore, great point and story! So glad you won’t be living “the grinch” every year, complete with Cindy loo hoo (sp?).

    • When my brother killed himself 30 years ago, my Uncle P has me over for a bourbon and a talk. His first wife died of breast cancer at the young age of 26. He said to me that we will have questions that are never answered. Accept this, find peace within and let the questions go. I’ve carried this with me to this day. I’ve tried to find the peace within myself – some days are good and some I struggle.

  • There are some things that cannot be undone. I’ve followed my therapists suggestions from day one. I’ve lovingly dedicated my life to raisinsg my granddaughter part time with her dad. Encouraged my son and celebrated his accomplishments, provided him with a home, helped my daughters start a business-reviewed resumes, taken care of daughters dog for weeks, cleaned my other daughters apartment, taxied and financially supported my granddaughters mom for years paying her car payments, power washing a house to save other daughter money.

    This summer when my daughter was getting a divorce I was asked to help her refinance her home as a co-signer. Under advisement I had to say NO. At sixty one I need to put my future first. Then came the rage and insults.

    I’ve been minimal contact with my oldest daughter due to horrible abusive rage over nothing. I dedicated my life to HER daughter. And it was with great love and care. During the YEARS of abandonment I sparkled her mom never saying an unkind word.

    And today the daughter I almost co-signed a loan for is having her father and his family for thanksgiving.

    Sitting at the table will be the man who took his daughter on dates when she wa 5, threw her out at 16, and had no contact with her and berated me for being supportive of financially. The same man who abandoned middle daughter when he moved to Florida causing me to lose my home making her homeless.

    Next to him will be the woman who ran me off the road after my granddaughters performance, called me a frigid cunt who would die alone with no one to love.

    And now facing my biggest fear from the minute I filed, the painful reality is that there’s no fixing this. I’ve lost everything that was important to me.

    • Ah Doingme, I’m so sorry. It does sound like your one daughter is very much genetically her father’s daughter doesn’t it. Please console yourself that you have nothing to reproach yourself with. You did what was right. Who knows, maybe in time she will come around. Maybe she won’t. But you seem to have your other children and grandchildren. Hold tight to them. Sending you love and hugs from France!

      • Yes Attie they are in fact alike. I’m confident they’re quite manipulative. The surprise was with my middle daughter.

        Yes I have my son and granddaughter. Thanks for your kind words.

      • Sending you great big hugs Doingme. I know how hard it is to let go, and I am so sorry you are having to deal with kids taking after their father. Good for you for having good boundaries and sticking up for yourself. When our kids are adults, they have to stand on their own two feet. We did. I have had to erect this same boundary with my son. It’s hard but necessary, and it tells them we matter too.

        • Thank you Tessie. Hard but necessary for sure. I’m fortunate to have my sister and brother-in-law n law and niece and nephew.

          They had a fine time, complemented my fancy table and dinner. I’m taking up their offer to join another family get together. And later on I may have a glass of wine with my friend.

          I’ll two by four mysel knowing it’s one day.

          • Hi DoingMe I have also had problems with my adult daughter. I have realized after many years trying that it will never be enough for her, no matter what I do. Feel like I am always being judged despite always doing my best!. Meanwhile, it is a one way relationship where she does little to nothing for me.
            i have decided no more one way relationships no matter WHO the person is, and I have felt much relief since then. I cannot change her, but I can change me. I have had to let go and it feels so good! I have a adorable granddaughter who is 4 years old I may rarely see now. But it is the only choice that works unless she grows into the two way street relationship concept. She also has DNA of father and manipulative and selfish leanings.
            Today I had a Thanksgiving with just my boyfriend. I cooked a nice dinner in my pj’s, and we just stayed home with the dogs all day. It was stress free and I could get used to it!
            I hope you will consider this, as it may relieve some pain. So sorry for all your disappointments!

            • My sympathies to all of us with problems with our children. I too am coming to realize that my adult sons are 50% Sociopath…like their father. They have no empathy, no conscience, it’s all about them. It seems they also have no memories of who was there for them all of their lives. I am grateful that they are both successful. I find solace in a job well done.

    • Now it’s time (past time) to put your needs first. Let those of worth shine through. Or find new ones. There is no fixing it. For me, strange is the new normal. You have given too much and boundaries will be so hard for you. Especially since others do not expect them. Sounds like your daughter is on the entitled path. She will resist your changes and it gets worse before it improves. Stay true to yourself, Doingme. You are learning to do that and mighty!

      • Yes, Cat. I’ve set boundaries. Each and every time I do my world gets smaller. The lack of respect comes from years of rescuing.

        The daughter who is having them over recently divorced a cheater and went straight into a relationship with a guy who has similar traits as dad. Not my circus thankfully. But to sit with a skanky pig? I really thought my daughter had more class.

        • Then I hope you love and respect yourself! Sounds like you deserve so much more! How horrible that she is with them. It must feel like such a betrayal. Blessings to you, Doingme. I hope your day offered more than you expected. Remain true to you and your worth.

        • Doing me, you said you lost everything that was important to you? People who used you and took advantage of your kindness? Even if it is family. You said lack of respect comes from years of rescue. Which sounds like years of enabling. It sounds like you did to much. Now you said you sent boundaries and your circle is smaller. I am glad you drew the line at Co signing of the house. Adults have to learn to take care of themselves and live within their means. They don’t want to talk to you then fine. I know it hurts but you can’t be a door mat any longer.

    • Just take care of yourself. Be there for you. I know it hurts.
      Start a new tradition for you-work at a soup kitchen for the day. It sounds like some in your family are ungrateful. So, be with others that are grateful.

    • Oooof, that is so hard. I have given my son the last loan that he will ever get from me. Next time he asks it’s going to be a no. And if I lose his company, then I will know our relationship was based on him taking, and me giving. I am mentally preparing myself for this to happen.

      • I think the most important thing we can learn from this, is that we need to take care of ourselves because no one else is going to. And if it means turning entitled adult children down on loans, so be it.

        The first holidays after cheater XH ran off were really hard but it gets a lot better over time. I’m off to my aunt’s house where 40 of my relatives will be. I invited a newly divorced chump to go with me and she’s so excited to go a big Italian Thanksgiving feast !! Keep in mind, that if you are sad today….this day will end at midnight. I will bet money that I’m going to have a much grander time than Cheater XH and the skank woman. They literally do not have a relative in the world. Both are only children and neither of them have kids. Lucky, lucky me…I have a big, beautiful Italian family with lots of kids and grandkids and aunts and uncles and siblings who all love me. Yay me.

        Many thanks to Chump Lady, Chump Nation and all the incredibly funny and super smart chumps that come here every day for strength, peace and hope. God Bless you all !!!
        Mu-ah (<:

    • Oh gosh Doingme, hang in there. My oldest doesn’t give me time of day now. I’ve had to admit he’s becoming his dad. It’s the toughest thing because they witnessed destruction of family firsthand and yet he’s doing the same to his family . So hard to be abandoned emotionally by ex and then your child. My thoughts are with you through the holidays . It just sucks . I like the advise given : feel the emotions, do holidays how you want and do your reality checks at CN.

    • DoingMe,

      I’m so sorry. I’m glad you had a nice holiday regardless. Letting go of people you did so much for is hard as hell. The betrayal of knowing who was at her table today hurts too I’m sure.
      Disconnect is never easy between parent and child, I hope and pray your children realize their errors and make peace with you.
      (((((Hugs)))))

  • I remember a few years ago when my kids were little and cheater bought me nothing for Christmas. Nothing! I got him loads of thoughtful gifts. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t need anything and I’m not materialistic anyway but when my little boy looked at me and said “where’re your gifts mommy?” it broke my heart! Will I miss that? Hell no!

    • Many years like that. 🤔30! Now I no longer sell myself so cheaply. I wasn’t looking for quantity, but rather, quality. ANYTHING LOL! I always said he was a combination of Scrooge, the Grinch, and Potter from it’s a wonderful life! Holidays were so stressful and uptight.

      • I was married to a guy like that once. (Not the cheater, first trial run of marriage) On Christmas morning I literally had NOTHING to unwrap. Our kids were little then and my daughter said ‘Mommy, you didn’t get ONE present!’ My then husband said he had been ‘too busy’ to get me anything. This after I had spent a month straight baking every Christmas cookie and candy in the world and wrapped a pile of presents for every one else. Just one of the many resentments I built up over the years at him.

        • It hurts doesn’t it! Not the lack of gifts, the lack of consideration/thought – and that our young kids got to see it!

          • I got the Troglodyte a very thoughtful gift, the week before DDay. He got me some pots and pans. Upin moving out, he took half of them.

  • I was six weeks out last year at Thanksgiving. It was a dreadful, dreadful Thanksgiving. I accepted an invitation with some folks from work (where I was new). They were all very nice people, but sitting there alone in a roomful of families I didn’t know well or at all — and I can be shy under the best of circumstances — was suffocating. I panicked just thinking about how to answer polite questions about why I was there, where I came from, and so on. I was also still struggling with nausea and stomach pain — at the beginning of what many of us know as the world’s worst and most extreme diet regime. Just looking at all the traditional foods made me nauseated. It may have been the worst holiday I’ve ever had.

    I wasn’t much better by Christmas emotionally but I did figure out why Thanksgiving didn’t work, and planned accordingly. I knew I wanted to be around people I cared about. People with whom I had a history, and people who cared about me. At that point, I had shared my misery with a few very old and very close friends, individuals who were already flying cross country to sit with me, or calling me nightly to check on me. For Christmas, I accepted an invitation from my very dear college roommate. Although airfares set me back quite a bit, I just knew I needed to go. I’d known her family for two decades, they knew what had happened to me, and we were all entirely comfortable with each other. I knew they weren’t going to look at me like I was one of the “free range lepers” CL mentions. It was still a tough tough holiday, but I can still look back on it with gratitude that I have such wonderful friends and that they were willing to host a very anguished person in the midst of their celebrations.

    This year, I am in a much better place both physically and emotionally. I am spending a quiet Thanksgiving with the two sweet dogs who entered my life this year, a young labrador and an old one. We’re planning several long walks. I’m making grilled cheese and soup for dinner — one of my favorite meals. I was supposed to go back to visit my college roommate again, but I’ve got a bad cold and don’t want to infect anyone. I’m OK with this. I’ve already gotten three phone calls wishing me a good holiday from people I adore who don’t ever remember that I’m in a different time zone from them (which makes me laugh), and I’ve read Chumplady, as I do every morning, and the day has started off well. I’ve decided that this afternoon, I’m going to hem a pair of pants. Yes! I am boring. I am OK with that.

    For those in the earliest stages or grief or those who are still suffer through the holidays however long it has been, my advice is to treat yourself like the trauma patient you are. Be kind to yourself. Seek out kindness, seek out caring people. There are people who love you, and even if you can’t be with them, talk to them on the phone, text with them, let them remind you that you are loved. Don’t have expectations that the holidays are going to be — or should be — either terrible or wonderful. They will be what they are and they will end fairly quickly. As everyone told me — which I now know to be true — it gets better. It really does. As CN tells you, you are Mighty. You really are.

    • Treat yourself like the trauma patient you are! Exactly! Put it in perspective and don’t put up impossible expectations for this day. Accept it as it is and be kind to yourself. Great words.

      • Great advice! Also, regarding expectations for the day, my kids and I have adopted a fun saying that takes all the pressure off. Especially when it’s a special occasion (but we say it on regular days, too), we say, “No pressure here, just have the day you have!” It is one of those phrases that just always gives us a chuckle, now that we’ve made it thru the first two years of the trauma 😉

        • Stay mighty Owlbaby. It’s so much less tressful when you to expect less. And accept that not all holidays will be a post card. My mother used to say “who ever told you life was fair?!” She was right. I thought it should be. Now I focus on what I bring to the holiday.

    • Thank you for this. It’s been 4 weeks since D Day, and STBX decided to travel to play Happy Future Life with the OW in another state, on my favorite holiday. Such a dick move, and I’m just raw from the hurt all over again.

      I’m doing things with various good, solid friends, but the time alone at home just makes the loneliness echo. I should have jumped on here last night, as your words have helped me tremendously. I hope that a year from now, I can help someone else by letting them know it gets better. Thank you.

  • Nomoreskankboy started a beautiful thread called Thanksgiving on the General Forum page. Very lovely and very helpful. I suggest everyone read the thread.

    Here is my post from the thread:
    I’m beyond grateful for this Thanksgiving.

    After DDay, my sons and I started new traditions that have grown and become more special every year. We are always together and often someplace different. This year is is someplace warm and gorgeous. The house rings with joy and family love forged by fire. Today I am with both sons, one daughter-in-law (pregnant with my first grandson) and two dogs. We took a morning walk along the beach, walked for a healthy breakfast, some went to the gym, one is asleep and I’m happy writing to Chump Nation on the couch.
    Later we will go for a ride in one son’s boat and then out for a fabulous dinner.
    This is me and MY family.

    The ex? Who knows and who cares? He doesn’t know where we are and we could care less where he and the OW are.

    Five years post-divorce and I am the luckiest woman on the planet.

    New chumps – I promise it will be better!!! Different for sure, but better! Wishing you all strength and hope until you reach the glorious future ❤️

  • I am blessed with a wonderful family. My parents have carried me thou this mess and are always my biggest fans. My children and now my grandchildren have always came first and have become my focus on the holidays. That is how I got thru the first holidays after divorcing wasband.

    I had 4 kids when wasband ran off. O i never wanted to be a single parent. But in truth, i already was a single parent even being married. In fact, it was so much easier not having to baby sit his ass all the time and deal with his toxic, selfish and childish behavior. Wasband ghosted us. So I don’t even get relief every other weekend.. .. which works for me because no way in hell could I deal with my children being in his care anyways. The few times he did pick up the kids I was a trainwreck the whole time. My life is my children, I cherish ever minute I have with them. I do not enjoy being away from them.

    You can do this. You just need to find your grove. 3 kids are busy. Figure out a way to make it work for you. I usually do laundry and dero clean on weekends. But I also do fun things with my children on weekend. Especially when they were younger. A trip to the park, movies, swimming pool, tennis, racquetball… library. All free (except movies).. .. my kids like to make stuff so I bought them models, kits, paints, etc.. .. there is a bunch of free easy ideas online too. Whatever they are interested in. Focus on that. Focus on making your kids childhood great with a happy laughing mom.

    The holidays will pass. It gets better over time. In my case, I was doing everything by myself anyways so it was not that much of a change. I has to cut out somethings that were too much for me. But it was still a good holiday. All the kids need is having family. you and the 3 kids ARE an intact family. You don’t need a big Turkey for Thanksgiving, (pun intended) eat Turkey sandwiches instead. You don’t need a big tree for Christmas, draw on instead. Let the kids color it.

    Everything will be fine. You are doing awesome. I am willing to bet most of your doubts started with the man you are divorcing. Believe me, it is much better not having that toxic behavior to live with. Good luck and Happy Thanksgiving

  • Others in this thread have already touched on some of the points that really helped me through my first set of incredibly awful holidays. For me, I think the biggest thing was trying to consciously let go of the ‘should’s and to also give myself permission to feel what I was feeling and to let go of keeping up holiday appearances without judging myself negatively for it. Whenever I found myself telling myself a should – “I SHOULD put up a tree,” “I SHOULD go visit XYZ family member,” “I SHOULD try to paste a smile on my face; after all, it’s only the holidays once a year!” – I tried to catch myself and ask, “Do I really WANT to do that? Will that help me heal? Will that nurture me?” And if the answer was no, I gave myself permission to not do it and ALSO to not beat myself up about not doing it. “I’m sitting in a warm bath crying instead of making cookies? That’s okay. I’m going through a traumatizing experience and it’s okay that I’m sad.” “I’m imagining burning a huge pile of holiday decorations linked to my ex rather than enjoying putting them up? That’s okay. That doesn’t make me a horrible person.” “I’d rather pull my hair out than put up a Christmas tree this year? That’s okay. I don’t have to put up a tree and the world won’t fall apart.” Things like that. I tried to be kind to myself each and every day and take it one small moment at a time. While it was very difficult to do, I tried to accept that sometimes holidays will just be a horrible experience and that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with me. That means I’m a normal human being feeling normal human feelings after being betrayed by the people I loved most and believed also loved me.

    ((Big hugs)) and try to be kind to yourself. I’m sorry you have a difficult holiday season ahead of you.

  • Dear LimboLand
    one day at a time and know that this is going to get easier. love the advice above accepting help from good people, not comparing, seeing yourself as the capable survivor that you are and knowing it will get better. Some ideas that might help are: finding small moments with your grade schoolers maybe involving them in some discussion or choices in planning something fun.like visiting a park or playing a game that they choose, visiting a library to choose books, or ‘helping’ you to prepare food – mine loved diy pizza and /gingerbread). Teaching them to cook and do chores is times well spent 🙂 Taking turns to share 3 good things you appreciate, planning to do something to help someone or somewhere else, making seasonal decorations, reading them a traditional story, constructing something big or small scale, (whether this is old cardboard boxes, home made playdough, string, lego, or a fort a blanket and chairs) having a scavenger hunt, making a home-made treasure hunt. listening to their ideas, and taking time for a hug as you all settle in to recovering from all this recent change and get to enjoying the new reality and reduction in tension. There is a great post about this about how your walls are going to sing.

  • Dear LimboLand
    one day at a time and know that this is going to get easier. love the advice above accepting help from good people, not comparing, seeing yourself as the capable survivor that you are and knowing it will get better. Some ideas that might help are: finding small moments with your grade schoolers maybe involving them in some discussion or choices in planning something fun.like visiting a park or playing a game that they choose, visiting a library to choose books, or ‘helping’ you to prepare food – mine loved diy pizza and /gingerbread). Teaching them to cook and do chores is times well spent 🙂 Taking turns to share 3 good things you appreciate, planning to do something to help someone or somewhere else, making seasonal decorations, reading them a traditional story, constructing something big or small scale, (whether this is old cardboard boxes, home made playdough, string, lego, or a fort a blanket and chairs) having a scavenger hunt, making a home-made treasure hunt. listening to their ideas, and taking time for a hug as you all settle in to recovering from all this recent change and get to enjoying the new reality and reduction in tension. There is a great post about this about how your walls are going to sing. It will get better,

  • Holidays can be opportunities to further open your eyes about things you hadn’t before truly recognized about your relationship and yourself.

    Last Christmas was my first alone (and I live far away from my family). My ex had always bought and put up (just up–not decorated) the Christmas tree. He did that task and I would accordingly ooh and aah at his choice and he would emphasize how much effort this took him and how it took away from his precious work time. So he’d get kibbles for doing this task. It would then be my responsibility to clean up the car and entire house of tree needles and put the lights on the tree (a task I don’t enjoy). Far from getting gratitude for my part of the chore, I almost tried to hide that I was cleaning up because me doing so was inadvertently pointing out that he hadn’t done it himself. (The man didn’t like the notion that he might be imperfect in any way.)

    Now, having bought and put up a Christmas tree by myself, I realize (1) this task is straightforward, (2) the cleanup that I wasted my time on in past years could easily be reduced to 1/10th of the time with a little forethought (which my ex would have acted on if he was considerate of me), (3) my ex only did tasks that made him look good (i.e., he would buy the tree and make Christmas dinner but he certainly wouldn’t clean up the needles from the tree or cook dinner on any other day of the year), and (4) I can do so many things BETTER than him–and yet I often foolishly took a backseat because of his ego.

    Last year I invited a friend over for Christmas and we both agreed to only do things that pleased us and not do things just because they were traditional. We had such a lovely low-stress day. Plenty festive without a single rumpled feeling of strain.

    Bring on the holiday! In some ways it will be difficult, but it might also just show you your mighty. That’s what happened to me and I wish it for you, too.

  • This is my second holiday season after leaving my husband. The first holiday season sucked hard. This second one is better. The way I got through the first one was to volunteer and do things for others. This kept my mind off of me and my situation. I was able to see that other people were struggling as well in their own ways.
    The thing is you are in transition from the old to the new. The new will be much better than this transitional period. Keep fighting. You and your boys are worth it!

  • My D-day was a week before Christmas last year. Now x-husband moved out that same day. Thanksgiving was always a holiday spent with his family. It’s quiet today, and I’ve been in my head some. But I’m thankful to not be spending my holiday with my racist former in-laws, and I have some friends coming over later this evening for wine and a fire outside. It’s going to be ok.

  • HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE! You have to make life enjoyable for yourself, don’t let your ex, and or the ow, take that power off you. Holidays are hard especially if you have to share the kids with a idiot. Kids know what your ex is really like. Swedish friends are a pain in the arse, but they have their reasons. I suppose, this is coming from my ex, who thought his ow, was more important than his kids on Xmas day, 6 years ago. There are decent people out there, they will help you.

  • My STBXH left just after Christmas last year, so this is the final major holiday without him to round off our first full year of separation.

    I chose this year to put just a picture of the kids on the XMas card. I used to send cards to every member of my STBXH family, each aunt/uncle and cousin. Only his branch of the family lives in Canada and the rest of the family lives in the United States. I also used to write up an annual year in review of the family to update everyone with a paragraph about each member of the family.

    I decided that I will send cards just to the aunts/uncles (the heads of the families) on his side, along with my in-laws and the siblings. I know that a lot of people would wonder why I bother, but his family has been hugely supportive of me and very much against this affair he is having. He doesn’t even admit that he’s having a relationship with this woman, and the family has a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Not sure what that means for the future of his relationship with the OW; maybe she’ll be okay knowing that she’ll never be welcome into his family. I don’t really care; all I know is that this is currently keeping her out of my kids’ lives too. She’s still the dirty secret, and he is still living a double life.

    The thing is that I don’t really know if his family in the US knows what has occurred. I still have most of them as my FB friends, and they regularly respond to my postings (I’ve never posted anything overtly about our split). So, it might be weird that they receive a card that is simply signed by me and the kids. Oh well.

    My in-laws continue to invite me to all the major family functions. I still visit with my brothers/sisters-in-law. In fact I see them more than my ex does, he’s busy with his other life. The Canadian Thanksgiving is in October. That was the first holiday that I decided not to attend and informed his family members that I will no longer attend their family celebrations – it’s just getting too hard. I let them know that we can make other plans together for visits from now on, and that’s what we do. I got together for lunch with my MIL and my three sisters-in-law in October and just took the kids to visit my MIL for her birthday a few weeks ago.

    So Christmas? My in-laws have a tradition of picking names at Christmas amongst the adults so there is only one gift to buy. I initially opted out but then one of them mentioned that if I don’t have a husband (their sibling) buying me a special Christmas gift, then let one of them do it. That was touching, so they put my name into the mix at Thanksgiving and made sure that someone in the family got my name. I let them know that the kids will join them with their father on Christmas morning until late afternoon. Then, I will pick them up for the evening turkey dinner with my family. They were happy to hear that I would come for a visit about an hour when I pick up the kids so that I could get my present. I also am godmother to two of my nieces/nephews so I want to see them open their gifts from me.

    As for traditions. I realize now that every holiday tradition was started and kept up by me anyways. Nothing really needs to change except there is no dad/husband involved. I will still make peanutbutter fudge to give all my neighbours. I will still do the advent wreath with the daily prayer after supper with the kids. I kept the house so the same decorations will go up outside and inside. I just need to pick up the tree myself for the first time – I think I can manage that.

    The difference is that I get some time off on Christmas Day not having to spend it with my in-laws. I’ll go to my family’s house early and help them set up turkey dinner until it’s time for my visit to pick up the kids.

    My focus is on the fact the Christmas is about honouring Jesus. It’s about family. I am very blessed that my own family is amazing and my in-laws are good, moral people too. They all love me. For that I am very grateful.

    Last Christmas, I had to put on a face of normalcy for both of our families so that we wouldn’t ruin everyone’s holiday. In reality, my STBXH has just signed a lease on a new place on Dec. 19th and was leaving just after Christmas. I learned after the fact that he was in daily contact with the OW counting down the days that he could leave me to be with her and ring in the new year. On Dec. 22nd, he went out with the guys and crashed at his buddy’s place where he had a one-night stand with another woman (learned this after the fact). On Dec. 26th, my cousin caught my STBXH shovelling the know of the OW driveway when he had left the snow on our own driveway undone (he just didn’t care about anything). And, then my “amicable” X turned evil on me – his plan of keeping the OW under wraps until a later date was thwarted and all knew the truth.

    Well, let’s just say that this holiday season is already better this year because he is not a part of it. I’m alive and well; healthy and peaceful. No poison in my house anymore. Thank you God.

  • Good one and I agree divorce isn’t failure, cheating is! I have met some wonderful people through my discard and divorce, now into 18 months. I learned I have wonderful neighbours that care about me and I care about them!🌹

  • Actually, my family has a long standing tradition of pie for breakfast. I still made three pies for dinner today even though there are only four of us to eat them. I think it is going to be pie for breakfast for a week. I hope everyone is able to enjoy at least some part of the holidays.

  • Last year, Thanksgiving came just 3 days after he told me that he was in a 10 year relationship with a neighbor (among other revelations). Three days before Christmas, the OW texted me to tell me that she and Mr. Magoo performed a private “marriage ceremony” attended by her family and friends. Guess the “groom” *forgot* to invite me. So I cooked and cleaned and decorated while feeling suicidal. Of course, he said “we can’t say anything to the kids, why ruin their holidays”, so while they were eating ham and turkey, I had a big, fat shit sandwich.
    Due to the stress of choking down my pain and anger, I cannot remember anything about that last holiday season. Which was probably the last time we would all be together.
    This year I was honored to host three young women soldiers for Thanksgiving. This was their first Thanksgiving away from their families.
    I plan to do the same for Christmas.
    The holidays will NEVER be the same. I will never be the same. Our family will never be the same.
    But different is not always worse.

  • I am about to break up with my BF of 2 years. I’ve gone and done it again—-waited too long for someone to change who has no interest in changing., he told me who he was and I chose not to believe him—that’s on me. I guess better late than never but I feel like I failed. I’ll try to keep busy and be grateful for my family and friends who said ( almost all) to dump his ass because he won’t give me what I need. It’s time to step up and do what I need to for myself. After all I can’t meet the right guy if I’m with the wrong one and I don’t need a guy but I would like a companion..

    • Honey, well done. More power to you.

      Take a break from dating until you can be happy on your own.

      This is when you learn a whole bunch of great things: who your real friends are, that companionship comes in many forms all day long if you want, and that your own company is actually quite cool.

      It’s worth it. Being single doesn’t have to mean being lonely – this is the time to revitalise old friendships and make new ones.

  • My tip on how to make it through the holidays: stop comparing your life now to your idealized version of the past. When I was a kid, we had a huge family. My father was one of 9 kids and there were cousins and aunts and uncle. A family reunion might run to 100 people. Now everyone in the older generation has passed and the rest of us are scattered. But if I spent every holiday mourning the old traditions, what “was,” I’d never have another good Christmas or Thanksgiving. I’m pretty sure Limboland and others know that all families evolve over time—people get older, kids grow up and have “BlackFriday” jobs and boyfriends to bring to dinner, or someone gets married and moves across the country…so these changes, while traumatic and sad and life-changing aren’t the first time that your family traditions have changed, nor will it be the last.

    And this “I can’t stand to open Christmas cards from friends because their beautiful intact families reminds me of my broken family thanks to my cheating husband.” CL is right to tell you not to compare your situation to that of others, in large part because you have no idea how “beautiful” or “intact” those family are—it’s a giant projection to think you know the reality other people might be living. And as someone raised in a so-called intact family where the mother swore she stay married “for the kids,” there are worse things than divorce–abuse, untreated narcissism, being married to someone who has devalued you, never being able to relax in your own home or in your marriage. But what struck me about this statement is how easily that feeling can shift to resentment that some of your friends are still married. If those marriages are happy and faithful, that should give you hope that fixing your picker will make that sort of marriage possible for you. And you can certainly hope that none of your friends ever go through what you are experiencing.

    All of this comparison, today to the past, your life to your friends’ lives, and in some cases, you life to the STBX’s, is the result of not living fully in the present and focusing on what you have now that you cherish and are grateful for. If you live in the present moment, you can still look back on happy times, you can still miss people who have gone from your life or even towns that aren’t what they once were. But if you don’t COMPARE, you can still see what’s good in the present. Healthy kids. The people around your table or the Christmas tree. The fact that you’ve made it this far. Keep a gratitude journal. If you start now, you’ll have 30 days of being grateful for things big and small by Christmas. That will be on its way to being a habitual part of your life.

    I had D-Day a month before Christmas. My Dad was buried on a Christmas Eve. One of my best friends died at 40 2 weeks before Christmas. All of those Christmases were hard but if you don’t expect that things go as planned or get disappointed when things don’t look “perfect, ” You can see Christmas as a comfort, a time when people give and reach out, rather than a sad reminder of yesterday.

  • Dear Susie,
    My heart breaks. You will be in my thoughts and prayers this entire season for sure. I am so sorry that you are in this place. No one deserves this treatment. I hope that you have good family and friends around you. You deserve all good things.
    Hugs.

  • My tip of making it through the holidays? Do whatever you need to do, whether that is staying alone and crying, going to friends, baking or whatever it takes to make it through, just do it. You have the right to feel sad during the holidays. But know that this will pass, and you will have happy holidays again!

  • For me, my first holiday season was better than I had expected.
    The first Thanksgiving after D-Day and divorce was also our would have been 12th anniversary— he had found out alimony was a thing after 12 years of marriage in my state, plus, he had already married Mrs Dumbass by then too….I had DD that year, so he texted me, “happy Thanksgiving. How was DDs day?”
    I replied “good”
    He asked a few pointed questions about DD that was easily answered yes or no, so I kept it grey tock.
    For my first Thanksgiving post-divorce on what would have been my 12th anniversary, I hosted a couple other single.moms, their kids, and my older two boys from my first marriage, and it was fanfuckingtastic .
    The freedom of cooking how I like, what I like (no more special nenus!!!) and when I like.
    He was such a pain in the ass for 13 years during the holidays, I was so glad to be rid of him.
    Make the holidays your own.
    Cry if you need to, retreat/hibernate if you’d rather, or go out and have a good holiday, it’s up to you now— however, I caution you not to obsess over what they’re doing, or how fabulous you think their lives are now.
    That rabbit hole doesn’t need to be explored.

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