Everything’s Going to be Okay

christmas-beautiful-tree “I’m struggling today,” she said.

Her kids are 500 miles away. The mandatory waiting period for her state to finalize her divorce will end in 2015. This is her first Christmas where everything’s broken.

“It’s amazing what you can get used to,” I said.

From now on our troubles will be out of sight.

I waxed philosophically about how in the grand scheme of our lives this really doesn’t matter and everything’s going to be okay and don’t let your emotions ruin an otherwise beautiful occasion. She gets me and claimed it helped.

But I bet it didn’t. I bet it didn’t help at all.

 …

I was in the store earlier. So much life. Everyone moving this way and that buying drinks and snacks and last-minute ingredients for Christmas parties and dinners with friends and family.

That’s when you feel the most alone after divorce.

That’s why divorced people don’t enjoy the holidays as much as they used to. That’s when it can still hurt.

I was trying to make her feel better, but maybe I was being a bad friend by not acknowledging how perfectly normal it is to feel loss during the holidays, especially when your two young children are so far away.

You see a pretty girl with a guy. What’s he have that I don’t?, you wonder. And you feel more alone.

You see a child with his mom or dad. I wonder what my son’s doing now.  And you feel more alone.

You see an old couple. The patriarch and matriarch of a large family and you know you can never be that. And you feel more alone.

Because I’m semi-smart, I know I won’t feel bad about it next month, or even next week. I know that it doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of my life. But right in that moment, there’s hurt.

And maybe it’s okay to acknowledge it and not pretend to be tougher than we are. Maybe it’s okay to just own it even though I’ve been trying not to, wanting to believe I’m impervious to pain from something I’ve “gotten over.”

We sat there, the three of us. Father, mother, son. Like Christmas magic.

Our six-year-old opened a bunch of presents. Around the tree, in a room, in a house, all that used to be ours but is no more.

Other than that child, there is no “ours.”

But then it was time for them to go. I held him tight. His life, my gift.

And then a “see you later, dad.”

And then a wave from the car window.

And then driving away.

And then a tear.

And then a deep breath.

What am I more sad about?, I wondered. That I can’t be with the person I love most? Or because I was feeling sorry for myself and I’m a little too good at that sometimes. Another Christmas alone. How many more might there be?

I know so many people recovering from, or going through, a divorce. Everything changes.

But everything always changes.

And maybe I just need to keep my mouth shut when my friends are hurting and let them hurt because I can’t fix anything because I can’t even fix myself.

I think maybe it’s okay to hurt because that’s what’s true and real right now, but it won’t always be. Maybe the only way to get to the place where it never hurts is to acknowledge it and not pretend it isn’t happening. Because it is happening. And next year? Everything will change again.

From now on our troubles will be miles away.

The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem: I’m struggling today.

But maybe not tomorrow.

Everything’s going to be okay. I know it.

Wishing you and yours a very happy and blessed Christmas and holiday season.

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32 thoughts on “Everything’s Going to be Okay

  1. swo8 says:

    Hi Matt, this can be a tough time of year.
    Have a look at my new video and hopefully it will put a smile on your face. Check out the site
    http://doncharisma.org/2014/12/24/christmas-present-dont-diss-your-moma-christmas-party-rag/
    Merry Christmas.
    Leslie

    Like

  2. Speaking volumes…eloquently. Hurting and hoping it passes quickly. Merry Christmas!

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Merry Christmas right back. Thank you so much. It was a bizarrely unexpected discomfort. I really, truly am fine most of the time. I’m not pretending. But Christmas sucker-punched me with feelings of loss and sadness and loneliness that I did not see coming. I was unprepared. That won’t happen again. :)

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  3. nykeypad says:

    it’s a difficult time of year for me, too. merry Christmas, Matt. your columns and writing helped me through some tough times. thank you.

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    • Matt says:

      I’ve read it and heard it countless times. The refrain from divorced people (or those who have lost people very close to them) saying how empty the holidays can feel.

      I expected it the first year. I did not expect it this year. I might need to make better plans for 2015.

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      • nykeypad says:

        holidays are overrated. this year was poignant since my dad passed away in February so if was a year of firsts. last year we were occupied with him. thanks for sharing with us. you’ve helped me a lot!

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  4. Dawn says:

    I know that pain. Years of that. Today, thankfully, I’m in a different place. Nothing has changed really. Still sharing my kids. Still no relationship. Happier and more at peace!!!
    You will get there Matt. So will your friend. It’s a process…long or short depending on the person.

    Merry Christmas Matt. I have a good feeling about the coming year!!

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  5. Phoenix says:

    Like usual, you hit it right on the head! I’m hurting, it sucks and I don’t like it. But divorce changes everything, right? Just something else to have to adapt to. Wishing all of us divorced souls a Merry Christmas and lots of courage and strength!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Matt says:

      I’m sorry you understand. But there is a little bit of comfort (as there so often is) in realizing how many other people are out there feeling those same things.

      So, thank you for saying so.

      Merry day-after. And here’s a fantastic 2015. Unlimited opportunity.

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  6. Wishing you peace at Christmas, Matt.

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  7. Shreya says:

    Merry Christmas. This was so beautiful.

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  8. Deepa says:

    Hugs and Christmas wishes :)

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    • Matt says:

      I’ll take all I can get. Thank you very much. I hope you had a beautiful time with family and friends. I’m grateful you took a minute to read and comment.

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  9. Merry Christmas Matt! Just like you, I struggle as well… only time can heal wounds though.. keep your head up & keep pushing 😊

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  10. I’ve been struggling these past days…

    Things will get better, but will never be perfect again. The illusion is broken, and I think that’s what hurts the most. The realization that the perfect ending will never come.

    It’s a cruel observation, but there is no way around it.

    Still, the bright look on your child’s eyes may be all the perfection there was ever to find in the first place, and that, even if fleeting, is eternal.

    Merry Christmas to you all…

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    • Matt says:

      Well said. For parents, if Christmas can’t be about our children and being grateful for our many blessings, then I suppose we’re doing it wrong.

      Thank you for the very nice comment. I hope you had a nice Christmas, and that you have a very happy and blessed 2015.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. AddieMarie says:

    Reblogged this on Chronically Me and commented:
    I was going to write a post tonight, but honestly I don’t have the energy and this sums up what I’m feeling so perfectly.

    Last Christmas was hard for me because I was sick, and this Christmas I’m sick too but that’s not why it’s hard…it’s hard because he’s not here. It’s hard because I don’t know where he is, if he ate today or if he even has a place to live anymore. It’s hard because I miss him being here, but at the same time I really don’t. Wow it hurts to admit that.

    I just sat down here to congratulate myself on being so ok today; I didn’t cry, I didn’t think about him, and I didn’t even really miss him until now…because it just occurred to me that I was so ok because I never stopped to let myself feel something. From the time I woke up till now I have been doing doing doing so I didn’t have to think about it.

    Well now I am going to feel something, I am going to sit here and be sad, because that’s ok.

    Merry Christmas everyone. Let’s hope next year is better for all of us. <3

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    • Matt says:

      I wake up almost every day now and I’m fine. Not “fine,” like everything’s great. But “fine,” like I’m not crying and don’t want to die (I use that phrase loosely. I was never in jeopardy of hurting myself.)

      But for anyone who has ever visited rock bottom, I think they can appreciate the distinction and just how weightless “fine” can feel by comparison.

      I’m in a pretty good place. And I’m improving myself in a variety of areas. I smile. Laugh. Am hopeful. Almost always. Hopeful.

      But on Christmas Day I woke up alone. The silence in the house was so loud again. Just like it was in the beginning.

      No one was coming.

      There was nowhere to go. Everyone was busy, busy, busy, with friends and family. There were no open restaurants or bars. (Though I did find an open bar later in the evening and went with a friend and my night got better!)

      But that isolation really has a way of putting your life in perspective. Of making you feel alone and unsafe. Because it’s just you.

      But, miss.

      This is just a moment.

      And it won’t always be just you. Maybe next month you’ll meet him. Maybe next year. Maybe today.

      Then the moment will pass.

      Voids will be filled. Scars will be old stories you don’t talk about much and that don’t really hurt anymore.

      And then you’ll be writing a new story. A better one. Because you’ll feel so grateful for right now. And you could have never arrived at right now without this Christmas that wasn’t very fun.

      Maybe that sounds a little bullshitty to you. It feels bullshitty to me because being an adult is hard.

      But everything really is going to be okay.

      Merry (belated) Christmas. 2015 might be magic.

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  12. I am sorry Matt. Reading this I have to wonder if my strange extended family is just that, strange. Yesterday I got up at the crack of down to rush across town to number two sons house, he just married last month. With that marriage came two new granddaughters, adore them.

    Visiting this month is my wife-in-law. She is the first mother of my two sons, that is the biological mother, the first wife of their now passed on father. I married him when second son was 2.5 and first son was 5. That was more than 30 years ago. Wife-in-law and I are great friends, frequently when she visits she stays with me rather than one of the boys.

    Also attending Christmas day was the father of the two girls. He and my son have known each other for years, long before my son and new daughter-in-law started dating they were all friends. Then there was a divorce. Then there was separate friendships. Then, well stuff happens. Now, there is a new marriage.

    The father didn’t just stay for present opening. He stayed to play games, to eat with the family and hang out. He was there all day. He is part of the family.

    It can be this way. It should be this way. I wish for you and your son, eventually you can have this sort of peace.

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  13. Just wrote a post with a similar vibe. It’s all messy. We are messy. Human. Lonely. Every Christmas we can choise to be reminded that we can have new beginnings. Again. And again. Merry Christmas Aftermath. This was an awesome, raw, real puece of writing. Thanks for sharing.

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  14. **choose **piece
    See? Flaws everywhere.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. neptune66 says:

    Thanks for your honesty. And sharing. This was my second christmas since he left and although I have more “okay, doing fine” days with a few “I laughed and smiled” days thrown in than I have “I dont know if I will make it” days now I realize I can still be blindsided by emotional overload. It was maybe a week before christmas and “out of the blue” I began to cry. I cryed for about 47 hours with rehydrating breaks in between but your decription of the holiday season and holiday shoppers and holiday parties and holiday couples rang a loud holiday bell in my head and about how i had tried to “be okay” this Christmas, and not just let myself “be”. Thanks again for sharing and i hope that 2015 brings much peace and joy your way!

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    • Matt says:

      This made me smile. I hope that’s okay because I take no pleasure in your pain. But yeah. Walking around the stores. Seeing everyone. All of it is a little reminder of what’s missing.

      I don’t smile because you feel it, too.

      I smile because you understand. Thank you.

      2015. Probably going to be awesome. Hugs.

      Like

  16. neptune66 says:

    Yah, i feel it. As much ad i dont want to feel it or think i can intellectualize my way through not feeling it, the plain cold truth is that I do feel it. I’m glad you smiled. Knowing we are not alone in our “loss”, that others understand makes it all a little more bearable. And I think you are completely right, I feel that 2015 is going to be grand. (And I didnt say that about 2014!)

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  17. garden2day says:

    It’s sad when they are so young and things can’t be the way they were… I feel for you. With that said, this has been the first Christmas that I didn’t feel alone (yet I was)–it will soon be 3 years since I found out about “his” cheating ways and other life and other family. It’s hard to deal with but I’m finally able to be ok with myself because I know there is only so much that I have control over. I celebrate those little moments and don’t think about the past. I do everything I can for the kids and that’s enough for them. I wish you a great new year! Take care of yourself! – Amy :)

    Like

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