Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Lonely, Single and Facing the Holidays

Are you facing the holidays alone? Many say that they are okay with their “singleness” most of the year but the holidays are really tough. You want someone to go with you to parties, shopping, to share presents, religious and family celebrations. Doing these things alone, especially in the company of others who seem happily mated can be really difficult and remind you even more that you are not “coupled”.

It is extremely hard if this is a “first” for you. The first one after the end of a relationship, especially after a death or a divorce, is so very hard. Thoughts and feelings from memories of past holidays together feel overwhelming at times and it may seem hard to get through each day, sometimes each hour. It gets easier as time passes although some say it never really gets easy.

Here are some suggestions for helping you to ease this time.

Be kind to yourself. Buy yourself a Christmas present and special holiday food. Think of ways to celebrate the goodness of you.

Go easy and have realistic expectations. Don’t expect “glorious” holidays, rather look for ones of peace.

Acknowledge your feelings of sadness and loneliness
. Recognize that it is natural to want to share this time of year with someone special. Journal about it or talk it over with a friend and then find a way to let it go. Focus on something or someone else. Do not let yourself travel too far down the path of unhappiness, rather head it off at the pass. Rarely is there anything good that comes from thinking too much or letting these thoughts overwhelm you.

Do something for another person. This can be anything from volunteering to help out in a shelter to baking cookies for neighbors. Reaching out to others, often ones in a more difficult situation than your own, can help put your own loneliness in perspective.

Write a list of the good things about you and happening in your life right now
. What do you do well? Who are your friends? What are your strengths? What would others say that they most like about you? Make copies of this list and keep it near by so that you can reach for it whenever you need to bring yourself back to a happier place.

Make plans
. If you do not have a lot of people to keep you busy … or money to cover costs, find ways to attend events at the library, show up at a church, walk in the neighborhood where you might see other people. Get out of your home and be active. We have a friend who has organized an “Orphans’ Christmas”. She invites others that she knows are alone for the holidays. They all bring a small gift to open and exchange and share a meal. This tradition is now 12 years old and she has requests from others who hear about it and want to join the group.

Remind yourself that this time does not last forever. January 1 will come and life will return to a more normal place. You have gotten through tougher times in your life. You can and will get through this as well.

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