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Ways to Cope!
Being Alone At Christmas
Member Name: kimgraham
Being Alone At Christmas
Date: 01/12/01, updated on 01/12/01 (165 review reads)
Advantages: see op
Disadvantages: see op
I spotted this category this morning and thought that I might be well qualified to write in it!
I really hope that I might be able to help at least one person.
Christmas is a family time. If you do not fit into the so-called "normal" mould it can be a stressful time. I have had very strange Christmases for the last 16 years. I would really like to explain a little and share my strategies for coping.
For those of you who have read my op on step-parenting you will know that I have had to manage without my husband a great deal in school holidays in order that he could see the children from his first marriage.
We did not spend a Christmas together until our daughter was four years old. Tony figured that while she was tiny she would not really be aware that he wasn't about, or of what Christmas was.
As a baby of course she wasn't. But I was, and it hurt like hell. On the alternate years had the children from my first marriage for Christmas day and that helped. The pain was always there.
You see other families preparing together and see couples shopping together on Christmas eve.You wish you could be the same.I used to wish that Christmas would go away. Our daughter Caroline was born in early December and that year took some struggling through, I can tell you. I was totally alone for 10 days over Christmas with a brand new baby. Having had complications at delivery I was also unwell. I did not think that life could get any worse.
This pattern has continued for years.He has been with us for only 5 Christmases since 1985.
Each year I utterly dread Christmas; later I will tell you how I have learned to cope and why this year, for the first time I am looking forward to it.
On one or two occasions Tony was so worked up about Caroline and I being upset that he had to go, he just disappeared.Then, the culmination in 1996 when at 3am he left and I told him if he went he would not come back. <
br>I had to explain to our 10 year old daughter when she woke up that Daddy had left us.She now also has bad feelings about Christmas.
I am not going to bore you all with the minutiae of what happened as I am sure you have the gist of it. Suffice to say it has been hell on earth sometimes.
How did I survive all this? How did I cope?
The early years of it were especially difficult. Everybody is different and has different needs and ways of coping. Some people need to have people around them and lots of support. That did not work for me. I felt terrible seeing my family with their spouses and felt like an outsider looking in.
If you know somebody who is going to be alone, do gently probe and find out what would really help them.
I used to do all the present shopping on one day. When Caroline was a baby I pretended it was not Christmas. I had a snack lunch and reserved the day for some serious decorating. The television and radio never went on. It could have been any other day. That worked really well. If I ever don't have the kids now, I do the same. It has the advantage that you are pleased with a job well done.
I needed to be alone and ignore the fact it was Christmas. People found it very odd, I think! I was under constant pressure over the years to conform and go to stay with family. They meant well, but for me it made things worse. If you have a friend or family member in this position think about what I have said and please don't make them feel obliged to come to you.They will let you know if that is what they need by eagerly accepting your invitation. If you detect the slightest reticence don't push too hard!
I always bought myself a nice treat and lots of beauty goodies. In the evening I had a bath with candles and really pampered myself.
As the years have gone on it has been easier. I expect not to be excited but I no longer feel as sad. I can watch Christmas TV without crying my
eyes out. This is a big step forward! Tony will be home this year for the first time in 5 years. It will almost seem strange. I am pleased for my daughter's sake.
Gradually you learn to cope. You can manage alone. After the shock of the first few years I discovered it was quite nice to get the kids to bed and know you could watch whatever you liked and not fight over the remote control!
I always bought myself a special present, something I really wanted. Something for me, not for the house! I always wrapped it up and put "to Kim from Kim" on it! It probably sounds silly but sometimes you have to treasure yourself, especially if you are alone with children.
When mine were young if I felt a bit overwhelmed I would bundle us all up in warm clothes and go for a lovely walk after lunch. I also got into a lifelong habit of buying a really good family game. It is hard to feel sorry for yourself if you are concentrating and having fun.
It is vital, if you have children to find hidden strength. Christmas must stay a special time for them. This is almost the hardest bit. If you are lonely and depressed you really don't want to bother. Try as hard as you can, my children got me through some years. I always tried to have a really interesting present for each of them; something that would keep us all absorbed for some time. I never did crack that electronic Lego!I am going to find it from the attack this year and get Tony to make the motorised sports car. Better late than never, eh!
You can have fun, despite yourself. It is very easy sometimes to wallow in self pity. There is always someone worse off. Try visiting the hospice on Christmas morning. I did that once. It makes you see things from a new perspective.
If you are alone because a loved partner has left you, remember, you are special. It is their loss. If you sit and mope then they have won! Have a great time without them. It is so hard, but you can do i
It is a very gratifying feeling getting through and knowing that you coped.
Last year I felt brave and went Carol singing! It was most cathartic. Sometimes you have to embrace your demons in order for them to go away.Now I am looking forward to all the preparations. We will have a tree and decorations (they were always a no no before). The interesting thing is ,that I felt like this before I knew the old man was coming home for Christmas!
Good luck! Happy Christmas to all of you. Don't expect too much of yourself and you will get through!
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