Last year you thought you had the perfect family. The perfect life. You were so thankful for your good fortune, and worried about some of your friends who were going through a tough time with their families. You felt so bad for them, but you were secretly relieved your life was so much different; so much better.
What a difference a year makes.
Now you’re the one who’s hurting. The one whose life has been turned upside down. And you never saw it coming.
Your spouse didn’t pass away; that may have been easier, almost.
He/she left you, and your children. For someone else. Unexpectedly. How long they’d been having an affair, you have no idea. All you know is, your life is shattered, and you have no idea where to begin to put it back together again.
Your home that had been so beautiful, so comfortable, that had held so many family celebrations, is now gone. Another family is living there, and you envy the memories they’re making. And hope they’ll have a happier ending than you did!
Thanksgiving was terrible. Fortunately you and your kids had your sister’s family to share it with. But all you could think of was about last year. How you and he/she had hosted since a wonderful family dinner, with everyone happy, talking excitedly about Christmas plans and gifts and family parties. Everyone had pitched in to help, and the rest of the weekend was spent decorating for Christmas and beginning to shop for gifts.
Now you spent half of your Thanksgiving day wondering what he/she was doing; where their Thanksgiving meal was. Were they with his/her family, and excitedly making plans for their first Christmas together? Did they sit around laughing about you and your kids, and joking about how miserable you probably were and saying how lucky he/she was to finally be rid of you?
Did he/she even think about how the kids were doing without him/her, since there wasn’t even a phone call to check on them, or tell them Happy Thanksgiving! His/her parents didn’t bother to call their grandchildren either! It was as if they didn’t exist any more.
Did he/she even bother to have a moment of regret?
A small moment where he/she maybe realized this was all wrong? That he/she made a mistake?
Thoughts like this are natural in this situation. Especially that first year. You’re feeling betrayed, unloved, and unwanted.
But dwelling on your situation doesn’t help. It only serves to feed your loneliness and extend your stay in the land of regret.
Which is not a place you want to stay. It’s not fun there, and there’s no way it ever will be.
Your memories of other holidays are just that. Memories. Memories you cannot keep replaying over and over, because the outcome will still be the same. Now you need to start making new memories. You may not think you ever will right now, but you will. And they won’t all be bad ones.
For now, as difficult as it may be, you have to move forward. You need to be an example for your kids who have no idea how to handle the situation either. You have to show them how; show them how an adult handles the tough times, and makes the best of a bad situation. Even though you’re not sure how to handle it yourself.
You start by holding your head high. By not continually dwelling on what happened and telling your story over and over. That chapter has been written, edited, and put to bed. Now it’s time to write a new one.
Easier said than done? Yes. But you’ve survived so far, and will continue to. You won’t be the same person you were any more. You’ll be stronger. And an example for so many others.
Be thankful for what you’ve learned, and that you have another chance. Be thankful for those around who love you and support you. Be thankful…because as bad as it seems now, it could be so much worse.
Next Thanksgiving will be so much better, and you will have so much more to be thankful for.
And yes, I do know. From my own experiences.
The best is yet to come.