The holidays are a tough time for anyone who has been through a divorce, will be shortly going through it, or is locked in the ongoing process. It can be hard to find reasons to be thankful, when although your friends and family will say platitudes to you for a while, the hard part catches up: “Why can’t you just be grateful?”
My initial response was to say, “Yes, that’s it—I should be grateful that the church and my parents who helped him kick me out of my life with just the clothes on my back. I should be grateful for the loss of my children. Thank you for your dumb comments.” However, now that I have finished writing Motherhood Stolen and I am truly grateful for the story to tell, and hopefully the change it will bring the world, I am able to find something else.
After divorce, when we allow people (ourselves mostly) to sit with the bitter, angry, and sad feelings for small amounts of time, we actually are able to see ourselves in a new way. We’re able to see gratitude for that young woman whose name I’ll never know that handed me an apple when I was hungry, for the man that didn’t know me but saw my tears and hugged me on the street of New York City while whispering in my ear, “Don’t let the bitterness eat you alive.” I’ll admit at the time that was creepy, but years later that moment feels less creepy to me.
I am able to look back and see the people that were there that saw me, the real me. The me who just wanted to die from the shame of it all, the me who used to cry myself to sleep and wonder what I was going to do, if I’d ever find peace. In fighting the feelings of sad, bitter, and angry like people had suggested I do, I had stifled my own growth. My spiritual journey was not able to take flight until I met a wonderful rabbi who said to me, “Do you think maybe Job was angry, bitter, and sad?”
No one had ever really posed the question to me like that since my divorce. I started to think about Job in a new way and asked a friend of mine who encouraged me to give myself permission to be me, permission to feel. I’m so grateful that he did that, and I am grateful not only to those that helped me, and I’ll never know, but to those that ran into my house on fire when everyone else was running out.
If you’re struggling this holiday season, you are not alone. Set aside 20 minutes and let yourself feel the pain and then release it. You’ll feel better if you don’t fight it, and you’ll be able to learn new things about yourself and the world. What do you need to change to release the pain, who would you become if you didn’t have it, and who do you need to become to let go? Write the answers to these questions and move yourself forward, and you might just find a few reasons to be thankful. I’m always here to lend a hand.