Your first holidays after divorce: Help is on the way!

Every time the holiday season comes around, I remember my first few Christmases and New Year's Eves after my divorce.  

During my separation, divorce, and for years following the divorce, the holiday season was just an awful time for me.

The agony started right after Halloween, as Christmas decorations started to appear in stores, and Christmas music began to blast everywhere I went.

I truly came to understand the expression "gut-wrenching."  I felt physically ill, and had to resort to deep breathing and sunglasses to camouflage the tears.

I'd talk to myself, silently (and sometimes not so silently) in public.  I'd say to myself, "It's okay, it's okay, hang in there.  Breathe.  Thank god for sunglasses:  No one can see you crying.  Just hang in there a few more minutes.  You'll be back in the car soon and then you can let it all out . . . ."

Somehow, the season would have me rehashing all sorts of old memories:

What I should have done, how I should have known better, what wasn't my fault, what I couldn't possibly have known . . . on and on and on.

I'd reminisce about my lying, cheating ex.  But in my memories, I couldn't remember all those horrible things he'd done.  I remembered shopping for the Christmas tree together, putting up decorations, making our own playlists of Christmas songs.

Holidays alone after divorce

And the holidays post-divorce back then?  Showing up to family celebrations alone.  Knowing that many in my family blamed me for divorcing him.  Knowing that my parents believed that no matter how badly I was treated, it was the woman's job to sacrifice herself and endure.  (Yes, even now that it's the 21st century.)  Somehow, it was never the man's fault.

And I wondered:  What were the odds I could ever be happy again?

What were the chances that I'd ever end up with someone better . . . or even just someone who was not too bad?  Did I even want someone if he was just not too bad?  Did I need someone just to keep me company? 

Everything seemed frightening to think about.  I couldn't imagine year after year of holiday seasons and special occasions pasting on a smile and feeling dead inside.

No one had an answer for me.  There was simply no cure.  Oh, yeah, the five stages of grief. Talk therapy that just made everything worse.  Telling me that it was going to take a long time to feel better and that there were no short-cuts.  The whole thing felt like a death sentence.  A heart and soul death sentence.  Made me feel as though I wasn't anything anymore.  At least not anything or anyone I wanted to be.

When would this get better?  And how would I survive this miserable holiday season?  I wanted to go to sleep until it was over.

Of course, it did get better.  Some of you know about the 7-step system I created to speed my own recovery, but that came later.

I needed something special
to get through the month of December.

It was one particular holiday season where I knew I had to do something.  My mom had passed away after a long battle with leukemia just days before Christmas, I was struggling with my own cancer diagnosis -- and on top of everything, I was still blaming myself for my ex-husband's lying and cheating, still feeling pretty worthless. 

I asked myself: "What would have to happen to take my focus off the past, deal with my grief, and have hope and strength to go it alone with my own health conditions and fears? How could I draw strength from this season of the year, and start to love and respect myself, even without the approval and emotional support of others?"

So . . . I tried a lot of different things (because that's how my mind works, and my burning belief about everything tough is that there must be a way, but I might not know what it is, yet).  And, I came up with a system (because that's also how my mind works).  And, it got better. 

I had a wonderful holiday season, but it might not have looked very traditional to most people.  I started to heal myself that Christmas and New Years' and I started to believe in myself again (or, maybe for the first time).

And then . . . I created an ebook and worksheets based on everything that had worked for me (well, actually, I call the printables "magic worksheets"), and recorded the ebook in five audios.  I really believe in my little holiday rescue program, and why not share? 

First holidays after divorce:
A plan always makes it better

It's called 5 Surprising Cures for the Holiday Blues and it offers five different "holiday blues cures" to help divorcees who need a holiday rescue plan.  I boldly promise that you can turn your holiday blues into a blueprint for your new year.

Just some of what you'll learn, in the free ebook download:

  • How to minimize the parts of the holiday season that send you back to dark places where you don't want to be.

  • How to put yourself back in charge of how you spend the holidays. That in itself is pretty great, because the program coaches you, step-by-step, in creating activities that will support you, and that you really love.

  • How to figure out what you want from this time of year, and how to get it.

  • Specifically how you can give to yourself (as well as to others) and renew yourself, rather than drain yourself dry.

  • How to use this end-of-year time to completely create your vision for the new year, exactly the way you want it to be. You don't have to revisit the past.

  • And, I promise, the process will be easy, exciting, and fun -- because you choose how much or how little to do. Pick what you like from this little book, and feel free to ignore the rest.

Easy, not overwhelming — and you’ll learn so much about yourself

It's just 38 pages, which also include the magic worksheets (at the back of the book), so this is not just another overwhelming, time-consuming project to do this program.

I want you to have a happier holiday season planned with things *you* want to do, instead of feeling picked apart by everyone else in your life and what they expect from you. Take a look and choose among surprising ideas that will make your season happy and bright -- and will help you to do it your way.

Usually priced at $75, I’m doing a special Black Friday weekend offer. If you’re seeing this post before Monday, November 26, click here to learn more about the program and get it for just $5. Yup, 5 bucks. And, there’s a money-back guarantee. (I wanted to be sure that everyone could afford it, yet still have a small price tag so that you’ll be motivated to actually open it up and use it.)

If you’re viewing this on Monday, November 26 or later, the program is still a steal at $15, when you order by Saturday, December 15. Again, click here for details.

I truly hope -- and believe -- that this gift -- with love from me to you -- will make a big difference in how this holiday season unfolds for you.

And, if it helps you, it would make me so happy if you let me know

Celebrate Divorce: Gift registries, crowdfunding, and more

Your divorce is final, and friends are asking what they can do for you, and how they can help.

Or, you’re throwing a divorce party, but you’re still feeling a little stunned about how your life is changing. You know that friends will want to bring gifts, but you’re in a fog about what to ask for.

Or . . . (the scenario for so many women), you feel totally ignored, left out, and not sure who is truly your friend anymore.

While polling my divorcée community about which post-divorce gifts were or would have been most meaningful to them, I searched for divorce gift registries, and found only a couple of scammy sites that were fronting lawyer referral services. But I also found . . .

Crowdfunding divorce expenses is a thing

So, before I get on with what my dynamic divorcées suggested as amazing divorce gifts, check out Plumfund. It’s the only crowdfunding site I’ve found that specifically has a divorce funding category. If I were looking for assistance in funding the expenses of my divorce, or post-divorce expenses (such as necessary household items, or one big purchase), I’d definitely go with Plumfund because the category is already there, which makes crowdfunding divorce expenses seem like a normal thing to do.

There’s also GoFundMe and other similar sites, but without the specific divorce category, posting a fundraising page seems a little more desperate in tone, more like begging, and probably better done on your behalf by a friend.

But, I love that crowdfunding for divorce is becoming more of a thing — making it possible for women in abusive relationships to get out when the expense would ordinarily keep them stuck in the marriage for years. And, even if you’re not in dire need, creating a space for family and friends to be supportive and help in tangible ways.

Divorce gifts: What to ask for

Not to my surprise most of my dynamic divorcées said that one-on-one time with a dear friend would be the most precious gift, no matter what the activity.

But, most often mentioned by far was a spa date or massage. That surprised me a little bit because while massage is a nice luxury, it’s expensive and the effects don’t tend to last (at least for me) more than an hour or so after the treatment. It’s so great to learn what other women are into.

So many women said massage that I didn’t individually list them all below, but massage definitely won as #1 most coveted gift.

Here’s what they said, and you can check out the original facebook post and comments here:

  • Self care gifts: a manicure, bath stuff, meditation app.

  • Thoughtful card, fridge magnets with inspiring or funny words.

  • Spa gift card! Or a mani-pedi gift card!

  • Spa day with the giver.

  • Gift of a house cleaning service or something of the like — maybe even a dinner on a weeknight.

  • Fun, divorce-inspired t-shirt.

  • Little painting of a happy place or time — or one that will suggest a journey to a happy new life.

  • Picture of the friend in happier times to remind her that she’s going to be ok. And so she can shoot to become that person again.

  • Girls’ weekend.

  • Tea-time out. Just take her out for tea and listen without judgment.

  • Dance lessons.

  • Something pretty that she likes and her spouse would never have gotten her.

  • A lovely meal out — and flowers! Flowers are something she might not buy for herself, but bring so much happiness.

Make an Amazon divorce wishlist

Do you feel shy to ask for time or a gift if no one has offered? Why not create a public (shareable) wishlist on Amazon and post it on your Facebook page, saying, “For those of you who have asked,” even if no one has actually asked.

It’s a great little exercise in teaching people how you’d like to be treated, and in learning to reach out.

Does that seem a little too pushy to you, at this moment?

How about posting that you’d love to have coffee and a little one-on-one time and tagging some of your favorite friends?

But what if no one says yes? There’s lots of help right here on the Divorce Blog.

Don’t have the right friends in your life? Make some new ones:

Check out this post about making new women friends online (sort of like dating websites, but for friends instead).

How about meeting some of your favorite Facebook friends in person? Check out how one woman did this.

And, basic steps on how to reconnect with old friends by making the first move — several times — (geared for summertime, but will work in any season). The secret is not to give up after the first try.

Enlarging your social circle and bringing some new life into your tribe is something that almost every one of my coaching clients has had to navigate. It’s a good thing — it’s a sign of growing and bringing fun new people into your world.

Did you try any of these suggestions?

Comment below,and please let me know how it went. I want to hear from you!

P.S. When I saw one of my dynamic divorcée’s new divorce-themed t-shirt, I couldn’t resist sharing these . . .

Want to know your #1 response to our holiday blues survey?

Big thanks to everyone who has contributed responses to our Post-Divorce Holiday Blues-Busting Survey.

I thought you might like to know what women are most interested in when it comes to support over the holiday season.

I really love the way it's turning out -- because, based on your responses, you are very willing to learn to take time out for yourselves and are enthusiastic about using time this season to plan for a happier year to come!

So far, every single respondent to our survey wants:

1) a step-by-step process to help them use the holiday season to come up with a plan to totally transform their new year.  Or, as I like to say, to "turn the blues into a blueprint."

Then, two desires tied for second place:

2)  strategies to deal with loneliness during the season and to learn ways to nurture themselves this time of year instead of being overcome by stress and others' expectations.

So, how do you turn the blues into a blueprint, anyway?

The blueprint comes as the last step in our 5 *Very* Surprising Cures for the Post-Divorce Holiday Blues, and here's why.  The whole 5-step process takes you through a journey of honoring yourself, and experiencing what it's like to put yourself first so that you can give out of your own abundance and not out of your own exhaustion and sadness.

You might have noticed that giving what you don't have to give never quite works as well as you'd like it to.  Well, let's be honest.  It never really works at all.

Maybe you've already been living your entire life that way, but now the warning lights are flashing and sirens are going off because -- after having gone through the entire divorce process, and having lost so much of everything that meant most to you -- it feels impossible to keep putting a good face on it, and sacrificing even more heavily than you've done before.

So, the blueprint is the fourth of the five steps in my program.  You do it after you've taken specific (and fun) steps to remember who you are (or who you always meant to be), see exactly how you can scale back and remake the holiday season in a way that's fun for you, and even give yourself gifts (don't worry, you get to stay within your budget!).

I want you to have so much fun before you sit down to create your blueprint -- using nothing more than a journal, a pen, and maybe some fun art supplies.  The blueprint is fun, not work.  It's not about scheduling, outlines, flow charts . . . .    In other words, it bears no resemblance to the drudgery you usually do every day.

It's all about dreaming your life, the way you want it to be.  Not just where you want to be in your work, family, and financial lives, but how you want to feel every day.  Realizing that how you feel is the key to what makes life beautiful.  And, it's the key to what will allow your life to change in the ways you want it to.

Update: Special Pricing So Everyone Can Afford to Try It

We always want to ensure that every woman can have access to our Holiday Blues Cure Toolkit.

So, we're offering special pricing, (when you order by Saturday, December 15), discounting our $75 program to just $15.

And, we want you to feel secure that you’re not risking anything at all by trying it. So, we offer a full refund of your purchase price (within 15 days of purchase), when you show proof of completing all the worksheets, yet feel you did not receive value from it.

After you complete your purchase, Paypal will send you directly to the download page with the audios and ebook. You will not receive a confirmation email, so please save the page that Paypal sends you to, if you do not plan to download the program immediately.

The Tower Tarot Card: When Things Are Falling Apart

 Rider-Waite-Smith tarot

Rider-Waite-Smith tarot

How do you find a way to create a good happily-ever-after story for yourself when everything you thought you knew about life is crashing all around you during, and even years after, your divorce?

One of the unique things I’m known for in my coaching practice is reading tarot cards for clients when they reach a plateau in the amazing transformations we’ve created together, and they get a little tired. I’ve gotten them through the worst of it, and they’re thinking, “Maybe it’s enough. I’m doing okay — much better than I thought I’d be. Maybe it’s good enough.”

But life has so much more to offer. Sometimes it’s time for me to bring excitement about taking the next step of the way.

I love to move from talking to exploring the senses as a way to bring in something fresh and “wow”, so tarot is just one of those comforting ways of resting while planning what’s next (although you might not think so by looking at the card to the left).

The cards can be a mirror to see that the drama in what you think is happening isn’t always the reality. It doesn’t have to be that dark. And, surprisingly often, you get to choose how events actually play out.

As Wayne Dyer used to say, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

It’s pretty magical. Let’s look at a particularly scary tarot card, and see how various artists have chosen to interpret it — with different results in what you’d feel and experience if this card came up in a reading for you.

Just as every day, you create your life, tarot artists each create their own unique vision of the 78 cards of the tarot, opening up the meaning of the cards in the process.

Tarot Tower Card

At the top of this post is, arguably, the most famous representation of the Tower card. Two people are leaping out of a burning tower, trying to save themselves. The crown, the place of importance that you gave to your marriage is blown off and it’s beyond saving — right now, you question whether you yourself will even survive.

 FAVOLE Tarot

FAVOLE Tarot

But, what if you thought about it the way the artist depicted the same card, to the left.

Still not a cheery image, as you walk away from a bleak castle, in the remnants of your wedding dress. But, you have your dignity, your chin is held high, and you’re walking away from the wind and the rain.

It changes things, doesn’t it?

Or . . . what about taking the human element out of the equation entirely?

The next image, below, shows the tower struck by lightning and destroyed, but no humans were harmed in the making of this tarot card. And, there’s even a path that leads away from the disaster.

 DREAMING WAY TAROT

DREAMING WAY TAROT

The path is narrow, but it’s sturdy : ) . We can’t sugar-coat what you’re going through, and I would never try to do that. This is still a devastating image.

But. In this picture, there’s a way out.

It’s possible to look at what’s going down as a truly sad natural disaster, and not something that someone did to someone else. There’s a time to be ready to try out that way of looking at things. And it’s only one of many ways of making sense of what’s happened.

In the midst of divorce, or in the grieving process afterwards, a huge part of the pain is in the sheer loss of control. Not knowing what will happen next.

The game can keep changing, and the terms can keep changing. You think the terms of the divorce are set, and then he renegs and decides you deserve nothing. You think you’re over him and then you find out he’s engaged. The plot twists can be endless.

Happiness After Divorce: Darkness Into Light

 spinoolean tarot

spinoolean tarot

Look at this surprising take on the dark, gothic images that we’ve already seen.

This artist chose to turn the Tower card into a lighthouse. I love this so much.

The lightning is still flashing, but the Tower stays whole, and shines with a beautiful internal light. Is it a star? Is it a sun? Is it your beautiful spirit and soul? Is it your own rebirth? You get to choose.

The storm may morph into a hurricane. Your ex may keep bringing the temper-tantrums, and chaos may be swirling around you. Yet you remain safe and protected.

The marriage may be over, but you have the choice to be the lighthouse. Your inner light can become even brighter, never dimming despite the challenges that you’re going through. (Helping to ensure this is possible is a big part of my life’s mission in working with divorcees.)

Let’s look at a couple of other ways artists have imagined the Tower.

 tarot of the saints

tarot of the saints

Look at this one. This card is from one of the most unique decks I’ve seen (and, to my knowledge, it’s no longer in print).

Yes, it’s a Catholic tarot deck (shhhh, don’t let the Pope know).

We still have the lightning strike, and a man leaping from the tower (your ex, perhaps?). But, St. Barbara carries the tower (and you) to safety.

If anyone could keep you safe during this time of life, I bet on the miracle-working St. Barbara. Or, think of her as your guardian angel.

Sometimes, it’s easy to forget about prayer in times like these, when you think no one up there is paying any attention. If you believe in a higher power, don’t forget about Him or Her.

 everyday tarot

everyday tarot

Here’s the Tower from a new deck, Everyday Tarot, by Brigit Esselmont and Eleanor Grosch.

I love how all the traditional elements of the Tower card are in place, but the woman is peacefully falling, as if in a dream. She’s not worried at all. In fact, she’s floating through it as if supported by unseen hands.

I also love the purple and gold color scheme of this deck. Purple for victory and gold for abundance.

And, I also love the size and price of this deck. Small enough to easily carry in your purse, and under $12 on Amazon right now.

I don’t know whether you’re interested in getting a tarot deck of your own, but if you are, I link to it at the end of this post.

What if you want your own divorce healing tarot reading from me? I would be happy to!

Are you interested in having me read for you, using my 7-Card Divorce Healing Spread? Here’s a quick video with more information on that:

And here are some links to a few decks that I love, including the Everyday Tarot deck and book by Brigit Esselmont, whose podcast and books are amazing.

Gratitude journal benefits: coping with divorce

 WHEN YOUR GRATITUDE JOURNAL BECOMES JUST ANOTHER ANNOYING ITEM ON YOUR ENDLESS TO-DO LIST.

WHEN YOUR GRATITUDE JOURNAL BECOMES JUST ANOTHER ANNOYING ITEM ON YOUR ENDLESS TO-DO LIST.

Every week, I read lots of articles about how to get over your divorce. And a surprising number of these stories are about the benefits of a daily gratitude journal.

Have you tried this? I have done gratitude journals over long periods during difficult times in my life, sometimes with the desired effect and sometimes not.

The purpose of the gratitude journal seems to be: Things could be so much worse. Appreciate the little things (food in the fridge, clothes on your back), because, if you don’t, even these small comforts may be taken from you.

Over the years, I’ve even advocated gratitude here on the divorce blog, and in one or two of my videos. It does have its place.

Gratitude journal benefits: exactly what are they?

When your mind and emotions are spinning out of control because of the havoc divorce has wreaked in your life, sometimes we all need a dose of “it could be so much worse,” and “there are things to be grateful for here,” and “we could be starving on the streets of ______________.” God(dess) is merciful.

But, here’s where it starts to fall apart for me as something to recommend to my divorce coaching clients.

After just a few days, clients find that they’re writing the same ten things over and over again. And that process just reinforces how dire circumstances really seem and how stuck they feel. So, I never use the gratitude journal process as anything more than an emergency measure — for those times when you can’t seem to find anything at all to hang onto as a positive in life.

Once we’ve achieved a little bit of balance and perspective, we quickly move on to activities that bring quick wins and a feeling that, “Yes, I can do this! I can get relief!”

Here’s what happens when a woman who’s valiantly trying to heal from divorce centers on gratitude journaling as a device to feel better. She starts to feel, “I know I should be grateful that things aren’t even worse, but I’m actually starting to feel angrier. When does this start to lift? When does this get better?”

“It could be so much worse, and I’m grateful for . . .” seems like a cold shower without soap.

I say: Put away that sad gratitude journal and break out the big, bold, colorful sharpies, the bubble wands, the dance music, and the rhinestone tiaras. Not your style? That’s okay. Keep reading anyway. (You don’t really need a tiara, promise.)

Appreciation and gratitude: what’s the difference?

Sometimes you don’t need gratitude. You need something that makes you laugh. You need something ridiculous. Something that breaks the spell of relentless doom that divorce has ushered into your life.

Because we become resigned to this doomsday mood and noxious atmosphere.

We keep hearing about the 5 stages of grief after divorce as if this is a thing (it isn’t).

Why? Why should we feed the monster this way?

Yes, this situation is just awful. Yes, life seems out of control. But we don’t have to keep beating ourselves over the head with how we should be grateful it’s not soooooo much worse.

Appreciation has a different vibe. Delight. Pleasant surprises. Laughter. Friendship. Lightness.

If you’re into journaling, an appreciation journal could look and feel completely different than that pen-and-paper list of gratitude items. It could be on your phone or on Pinterest or on your Instagram feed.

You could snap a picture every time something delights you. You could do a video share when someone does something nice for you. (“Look at this amazing latte my coworker just brought me!”) You could share a favorite song that you’d forgotten about, but happened to hear over the PA at Target.

It’s a game. Look for three things a day that you find delightful — no matter how small.

I know. You probably don’t feel like trying this, but trust me.

Remember what makes you laugh. Remember what brings you wonder and awe. Find the things that remind you why you like (or liked) living.

And put the evidence someplace where you can find it every time you feel dreadful. Hint: Your phone. I have an album I call “Inspiration” with lovely traces of happiness from my daily life: photos, little videos, songs . . . all in one place.

So often, childhood pastimes will get you to that place. That’s why I suggest the colored pens, bubble wands, and dance music. Try replacing that gratitude journal slog with taking a few minutes to remember that girl who still lives inside you.

Dream those touchstones that remind you who you truly are inside. The fairytale creature that still lives in you and wants to show you lots of amazing sights, sounds, scents, textures, and tastes.

Instead of journaling about what you’re grateful for (ever notice how the same five or ten things keep repeating, and it’s hard to drag up more?) look around and see what you appreciate around you. You’ll notice different things every time you go outside, go to work, or observe the people around you. It’s ever changing.

Look for the happy. Look for the fun. And give yourself the gift of a few moments to see it and feel it. (You’re still a responsible adult if you let yourself have a quick break from the serious, adult disaster. And, from this place of appreciation and wonder, new, magical solutions and opportunities are born.)

Divorce emotions: What if I just need some peace?

Feel like you need to deal with uncontrollable waves of divorce grief before you can try anything else? Here are my top suggestions on how to interrupt those exhausting divorce emotions.

7-Day Divorce Healing Facebook Jumpstart

How can I make it even quicker and easier to emotionally heal from divorce?

As a divorce recovery coach, I ask myself this question every day.

To the left, you can see one of my favorite memes that I created to help my dynamic divorcees get a few quick emotional wins right away, so that they'll believe that the process I take them through really works.

And, I just started thinking . . . this is a valuable little exercise for anyone who follows me and reads my stuff.

It can stand alone as a way to believe that you are never stuck, even if it feels that way.  You can always shift the view to something that gives you enough hope to wake up the next day and take the next step.

So, my question is: Do you want to try this?  With me, for free, on Facebook.

Get a little support in doing for yourself what you wish he had done for you. You know the things. Ask yourself what you need. Then, give it to yourself.

Feel that you are worthy to deserve excellent treatment from yourself. Stop hurting yourself by feeling that, if you were "good enough" or worthy enough, he would have treated you better. Your worth had nothing to do with how he behaved. You make yourself more beautiful to the outside world by how well you treat yourself.
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Receive support in developing the new habit of reminding yourself, throughout each day, of the things you love about you. Stuck on this one? What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing? What were your passions before you got married? What do people tend to compliment you on?

Learn how to cheer yourself on when no one else seems to know what you need or has time to give it. Remind yourself that YOU KNOW the value of the spirit inside you. Deep down, YOU KNOW that you were meant for more than where you are right now.

7-Day Jumpstart on Facebook: 

Would you like some free, online support, over 7 days, to try the simple steps above?  Let me know!  Comment below this post, or, if you're seeing this on Facebook, comment on the post!

UPDATE 8.7.18: I've heard from a bunch of women who are saying yes to the 7-Day Self-Love Facebook Jumpstart.  So . . . the seven days will begin the week after Labor Day, starting Sunday, Sept. 9 and finishing on Saturday, Sept. 15.  The best way to make sure you get all of the details is to contact me here and let me know you want in on the Jumpstart : )