Thursday, December 6, 2012

Newly Single --at Christmas


They're putting up the Christmas decorations here at the rehab facility. One of the staff members and I got to talking about what we put on our own trees and she sighed, saying she hoped her recently ex-husband would give her her share of their collected ornaments. 

I'm going to have to build some new traditions, she said wistfully. 

The holidays are notably difficult for people going through loss and/or depression. All those Santas ho-ho-hoing and jingle bells jingling can make a body feel out of step with the universe.

I said the usual stuff -- good cheer isn't mandatory but you might find happiness in trying to bring it to others -- volunteer somewhere, be a Secret Santa, or, as she had said, think about starting your own new traditions.

She asked how long I'd been married and when I told her, she did the wistful smile thing again and asked for tips . . .

Dogged perseverance on both sides, I said, along with a sense of humor and a lot of shared history.

It's got to be rough, finding yourself holding the empty bag of a failed marriage. But this woman is fortunate in having a good job and a place like Asheville to live in. 

I've never been in her situation but I found myself wondering at what response I'd have. . . 

She is young enough, I'm sure, to hope to try again for a better relationship but that's what seems to me the tricky bit. I think I'd counsel her  to work at making a good and enjoyable  and meaningful life for herself rather than putting everything on hold till Mr. Perfect Husband comes along.

What do you all think? 
 
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18 comments:

Thérèse said...

The hardest is to be aware of what's happening but not feeling ready for the next step I presume... especially when it happens close to the Holiday season.

Glenda Beall said...

I was having this conversation with a friend today. We agree. Make a life for yourself and feel worthy before looking for someone to share your life with.

Many women think they can't live without a man, but often they find they can do OK on their own. I hear and have read that divorce is harder in many ways than death, but I can't imagine anything being harder than losing the love of your life.
I am thankful I had found my strength and my low self-esteem had given way to pride in myself thanks to a supportive husband and good friends. When I was faced with living alone and making a new life for myself, I was not devastated but realized I could do it. I wish the best for the woman in your post.

Martin said...

There have been a lot of broken marriages in our family, including that of my own parents.

Mags and I are not far away from celebrating our 39th year and, if I was offering up a recipe, I couldn't do better than your, "Dogged perseverance on both sides, along with a sense of humor and a lot of shared history."

Ms. A said...

That would be excellent advice and she'd do well to heed it. Self-sufficiency first! It's much easier to be in a relationship, if you don't feel like you HAVE to have someone.

Brian Miller said...

def dont put life on hold waiting for mr perfect...it just doesnt happen often enough...i think she is on the right path in building new traditions as well...

GrandmaK said...

It is so sad when a marriage cannot survive. It is difficult for so many who have been a part of the relationship. One can only pray for those who suffer loss in this way that they will continue to move forward and grow! Wishing you well! Cathy

KarenB said...

I would ask what can I do now that I couldn't before? Having to take someone else into consideration always alters things even in a happy relationship. What can I try that I have never tried before? Perhaps she could try one new thing each month - something big, like a class or something small, a new fruit at the grocery store.

I do know, looking around, that I would far rather be single than married to most of the men I know! Although, honestly, I think that has to do more with me than them probably. I like being alone and like to do things my way.

Carol Murdock said...

I have been there,done that. I was married 20 years,3 children. Divorce is pretty close to death only one leaves by choice, I chose to leave.
I was single 20 years before marrying my first love,whom I dated for 4 years because I had cold feet about marrying again. We have a wonderful marriage, it will be 5 years on December 14th. The thing I learned in being single all those years is that, you have to learn to be alone and happy before you can be in a successful marriage.

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

"Make a life for yourself and feel worthy before looking for someone to share your life with." Spot on, Glenda.
After 65 years and two failed marriages, I finally learned it is ok to be alone. I spent many precious years of my life searching for my soul mate when all I had to do was learn to love myself.
Great post and great comments!

NCmountainwoman said...

Sound advice. Love yourself and make your own life.

I have one particular friend who unfortunately has decided to define her life as a grieving divorcee. She is miserable and cannot see beyond her unfaithful husband. Sad indeed.

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

Your thoughts to suggest to her to make a good life for herself I feel are the best. -- barbara

Star said...

Maybe it isn't the length but the quality of a marriage that matters. We should all try to treat every day as a new day and make the best of it we can. I know that's very hard to do.
I was married for 36 years before I took a different path. I look upon that time as an achievement because it lasted so long, not as a failure because it didn't last another .... years.

Vagabonde said...

I think you need to love yourself and have your own life. When problems arise you need to let them go. I know it’s hard for some people. I think it’s better to live alone than be miserable in a marriage. Now about Christmas ornaments – when we bought our first house in Decatur, we moved all our Christmas presents, all our photo slides, TV and radio ahead of the big move because we wanted them to be safe. The next day when we went to the new house with the moving van we saw that someone had broken a window and burglarized the place. They had taken everything there including our boxes of ornaments and slides – I guess they thought they were getting something worthwhile. I was more upset about the slides – my photos of my first years in the US gone – as well as my wedding and my first child photos. Not fun.

dannie said...

12 years ago I came to Asheville to heal and start my life over after 34 years of marriage and 3 children.I found a great counselor and decided I wasn't going to do the "he done me wrong song" but try to figure out what made me accept years of abusive and demeaning behavior. It was painful and hard but I did the work and found a person I had forgotten existed-me. I actually felt like a bird out of a cage. I never got any of the hundreds of ornaments I loveingly collected over the years-they just became part of the baggage I was letting go of. That first Christmas I went to a community dinner for the homeless in Black Mountain-I told my family I was ok but I just needed time to process and head in aenew direction. I loved being with people who didn't know my story and who were in the moment, just grateful for a wonderful meal and good cheer.With time, I learned to laugh again and create my new world. When I least expected it, I met my husband who has made me laugh and enjoy life for the past 10 years. We are now facing the challenge of his illness and dementia, but those loving years will get us through. When we were married we asked that Stand By Me be sung. Its our story, thru the ups and downs of life over the past 10 years and those to come. As one reader mentioned you can choose to be the bitter sad divorcee or you can move on.

jennyfreckles said...

I absolutely agree. I was in the same position once. Sometimes I feel sad I don't have a relationship - but then again I think that in later years so many women end up alone anyway, having been happily married or not. I'll have had more practice in being content 'toute seule'! But I applaud those like yourself and Martin who are celebrating good long marriages. It takes commitment and good sense on both sides.

Victoria said...

I agree, Vicki. Make a good, happy life for yourself and then look around for someone to share it, if that need is still felt.

That's good advice, too, to married people on staying married.

I hope your rehab is getting easier for you every day!

Blessings, Victoria

Anonymous said...

Not having been in your shoes, I cnnot even imagine the pain.

My husband and I both do a lot of volunteer work and draw great satisfaction from it. We we were both educators,but really don't want to do school things again, but we find plenty to do at church, and here and there. Look around and find something that fits your time schedule and you would enjoy doing. Currently, I docent at the cathedral in the village in more clement weather.