It’s that time of year again: the time for lights and family fights; turkey pheasants and Christmas presents and everything in between. I, for one, love the holidays. I love to decorate and I love holiday music and really enjoying that moment where I finally figure out the perfect gift for a loved one. I get all sentimental and cozy feeling around the holidays. However, this year is going to be quite the adjustment in the wake of my separation.
This year, I only have one family to spend time with and this family only consists of my parents and myself. I have no house to decorate, just a tiny apartment. My gift giving list has been drastically reduced. It’s safe to say that it’s going to be very quiet this year. Not to mention I get to walk the tightrope of how to handle the holidays while dating (when is gift giving expected/ok/necessary? Who/when do I ask for accompaniment to holiday gatherings? Oiy.)
I suppose in light of the sentimental spirit of this time of year, I have really been thinking about how much my life has changed in just a few short months, let alone over the course of a year. This time last year I was still with my husband. Upon returning from traveling to a wellness resort with my mother in early December, I interviewed and finally was offered my current job-my first ‘big girl job’.
That said, life as I knew it then and know it now is entirely different. I had no idea my marriage was crumbling. I had yet to meet the people I work with, day in and day out, who have been of such great support, mental stability and true friends. I could have never pictured myself in a relationship that was romantically fulfilling or passionate or even remotely sexually satisfying.
I have learned an outrageous amount this year. Between the painstaking decision to leave, the actual separation, dating, shifts in friendships, living on my own….I have evolved and grown, and while growth is always positive, it hasn’t always been painless. I would like to say, definitively, that the coming year will be better. I’d like to pull up the Counting Crows and sing along with conviction when they say “it’s been a long December, and there’s reason to believe, that maybe this year will be better than the last.” But I don’t know. I have no idea what this next year holds. It can always be worse. Of course, it can be better too.
If this year has taught me anything, it’s that you can’t measure happiness as the average of events over the course of a year-some years are just going to be shittier than others, but that doesn’t mean that they still don’t hold their worth. I had some pretty painful moments this year, but I’ve had some pretty wonderful moments and memories, as well. I need to hold on to the smiles and laughter and feelings of contentment and love that have existed in abundance right along side the tears and gut-wrenching grief. I have to learn to allow these things to coexist at times. It’s okay to be sad but without a specific reason or to be enjoying yourself when you might think you should be home, grieving. End of the story: there is no rule book to life. Emily Post and Dr Phil and anyone in between don’t actually have the answers. Life is not one-size-fits-all and at the end of the day, the only one you have to answer to is your damn self.
And that realization, my friends, can be very freeing and the greatest gift of all this holiday season.