Okay, before we start, let’s talk about the point of this blog post. It isn’t meant to be a post complaining, whining, or seeking sympathy. I’m going to take some time to express the emotional experience of going into the holidays this season because writing things down allows me to work through them, and because maybe other people might have insights or relevant experiences that they can share around this topic. Take it or leave it. So, that said, here goes.

Our church has a tradition I never really understood before: the Longest Night service. Held on the longest night of the year, it’s an opportunity to mourn and acknowledge the pain around holidays. I intellectually got it, that people might have lost loved ones and find the holidays a hard time. Sure, good idea, let people feel sad.

This year, I don’t have to imagine that people might hurt around the holidays. I feel it.

Luckily I only worked on Monday and Tuesday. Even those days, I found focusing terribly difficult. I slept poorly and felt exhausted all the time. I found myself inexplicably on the verge of tears at strange times. Hours dragged by slower than a banana slug through leaf litter. I didn’t even feel like riding my bike on Wednesday, despite having decent weather and plenty of time. Even Benji, when I saw him on Wednesday, was distraught and calmed only after watching some Great British Baking Show.

What’s going on?!

Simple: A divorce is a death. The death of a relationship that has formed the foundation of my life and identity for twenty years. Of course I — we all — will mourn its passing.

Over those twenty years, we’ve built family traditions around the holidays that we have to rebuild new. Equally of course, holidays and all the changes around them will make that mourning more acute, just as with the passing of a loved one.

I’ve never lost anyone dear to me or gone through this process before, but I’m learning as I go. Some days will be more fine, and some less fine. It’s okay when those less-fine days happen; I try to accept them, embrace the sadness, let it wash over me and slowly recede like a wave on the ocean. Mostly I want to spend those days by myself.

So that was this week. A week of less-fine days. I know there will be more, and I know the Christmas season will have more than its fair share. But every day is one small step into the healthy, whole future I believe waits for us. Every broken moment between now and then just makes us shine more brightly in the end.

Beth’s image means so much more to me now even than when Ian first gave it to me. If I had to save one thing from my burning apartment, it might well be this.

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