Holidays can be rough for those getting divorced. Think about it. How hard was that first Valentine’s Day when you are separated? Or Mother’s Day? Or your birthday? For me, they were all “firsts,” and they were difficult, but not as difficult as I thought they would be. It’s the anxiety beforehand that causes feelings of hopelessness and depression. In other words, you build it up in your head that the holiday is going to consist of loneliness and crying, and then, somehow, you realize you got through it and it wasn’t so bad. It was actually nice.
For example, how hard was your Thanksgiving and Christmas this year? Those holidays—perhaps the most emotional holidays, can feel torturous for the newly separated or divorced. But were they as bad as you thought they would be? I’m betting no. Then, there’s New Year’s.
New Year’s, specifically New Year’s Eve is yet another one of those high-pressure holidays when you feel like you have to have these exciting, unforgettable plans. Whether that means a date or a party or a night with friends, anything is better than staying in. Because God forbid you are staying in that night, you feel like a huge loser and the world might come to an end. Sound familiar?
I want to explain why that’s not true, and why New Year’s is the absolute best holiday for someone who is getting divorced or who is recently divorced. I’ll start by saying that New Year’s has not really historically been a great holiday for me. Here are some things that have happened to me on New Year’s Eve. I was once waiting for a job offer and the guy called me on New Year’s Eve to tell me I didn’t get the job. That was a bummer. I had a miscarriage before I had my first child. When did it happen? New Year’s Eve. A few years ago, I had an accident at my gym due to a malfunctioning piece of equipment and shattered my wrist. I had surgery the day before New Year’s and on New Year’s Eve, my boyfriend picked me up from the hospital to go home. This New Year’s Eve, I will be staying in, as I am just getting over COVID.
With all of these stories, one might think I hate New Year’s Eve and maybe I should, but I don’t. I don’t because there are so many reasons to love this wonderful, beautiful holiday. I love the word “new” and that is the essence of New Year’s, especially for those getting divorced.
Here are 5 reasons New Year’s is the best holiday for someone getting divorced:
1. The worst is behind you.
Think about it. Is it possible that 2024 is going to be worse than 2023? I would have to bet no. Will you have new problems that arise and do you still have a long way to go before the divorce is final and before you get to a life you want and love? Probably, but that’s OK. You have already been through the worst of it and guess what? It was LAST year. This year is NEW.
2. It’s a time to express gratitude.
I truly realize that it’s hard to express gratitude when you feel like you are in so much pain. How much gratitude do you think I was expressing on the New Year’s when I had my shattered wrist? I was so angry and bitter that it happened to me and I couldn’t see beyond it at the time. But looking back, I realized that I could have fallen on my head or my face and it could have been a lot worse. I think people tend to focus on what isn’t working in our lives, and we forget about all of the millions of things going on every second that are miracles and gifts that are provided to us by God.
Examples: the air you are breathing every minute of every day, your body working, your kids being healthy, shelter, food, peace, smiles, pets, everything! It’s too overwhelming to even try to think about it. So, if you have faith in yourself and in God, it’s easy to find gratitude because you know that the two of you (you with His help) are going to get through the problems and then you’ll have new problems, and then you will get through those and then you’ll have new problems after that. But the things you have gratitude for don’t generally change.
3. You get to make resolutions.
I’m going to quit smoking and drinking and join a gym are not good New Year’s resolutions for two reasons: it won’t last and you’re not thinking outside the box. What’s really going to make you happy, losing 10 pounds or exploring the reason why you aren’t happy? What’s going to bring you peace? Running on a treadmill every day or looking in the mirror and taking some accountability for the things you need to work on? New Year’s is the one time of year that people even use the word “resolution,” so make it count this year.
Practice mindfulness, get more sleep, learn how to cook this year, get a pet, start kicking ass at work, make more time for your kids, get rid of all the unneeded “stuff” that’s making your house feel cluttered. Aren’t these better than the same old resolutions? The difference is, maybe now that you are getting divorced, you have the guts to actually make some more life changes!
4. Time to make plans.
Along with making resolutions, make some plans! Part of getting divorced means getting free. You are FREE to do what you want! There’s a lot of beauty in that, which is perhaps the reward you get in exchange for being temporarily lonely and scared of the future. When I say make plans, I mean plan a vacation or a trip, visit somewhere you’ve always wanted to go but your husband had no interest. Or go visit that friend your husband never liked, or look into going back to school. I recently went on a cruise. I had never been on one because I always had too much anxiety. (moving boat-no where to go if something happens…your typical neurotic, anxiety-driven mindset) Guess what? It was so much fun and I’d do it again in a minute.
5. New Year, New You.
Perhaps the biggest plus for those getting divorced and New Year’s is that this is the year you are going to reinvent yourself. Divorce, as bad as it is, gives you this gift and opportunity. People think that when they are over 40, they are old and that it is too late to change their life. First of all, I would give ANYTHING to be in my forties again or even in my early 50’s! I reinvented myself at 41 and then again at 52.
I know countless women and men who discovered a passion after divorce and either started a new job or a business or a hobby or volunteer work that made them excited and happy about their NEW life. You might not even know it yet, but you have what it takes to do the same. Divorce can play with someone’s self-esteem so it’s up to you to find yours again. It’s there. Waiting. The NEW you is waiting. It’s in your power and I know you can do it. But you have to believe you can do it.
Happy New Year, Everyone! I am wishing you all the best, happiest, healthiest year ahead!