If you’ve recently experienced a breakup, you’re in good company. The two weeks before Christmas see one of the year’s biggest breakup spikes, as family gatherings, office parties, and gift-giving pressures unhinge many couples. A few things to consider:
1) You Don’t Have to Be Merry–Yet
If you want to be relatively cheerful at Aunt Edna’s Christmas Eve dinner, then make sure you give yourself time to grieve before the festivities begin.
In my experience, the most effective way to do this is quite simple: feel the burn. Find a quiet, comfortable spot in your home, and shut off all distracting devices. Keep a soft gaze on the floor and place your attention on your breath. Then allow all those difficult feelings to arise. Rather than pushing the pain away, experience it fully.
I know—it sounds awful. And it might also seem counterproductive. But this is not wallowing. Wallowing involves thinking–ruminating about how terrible this is, worrying that you’ll never find someone else, churning over how you cannot believe she is dating that idiot from Tae Bo.
Stop the thoughts. Feel the feelings. When you do that, a funny thing happens: You realize you can handle it, and you start to get back your power.
2) You Don’t Know The Future
Experiencing a breakup prompts a lot of questions. Where will you live? Who will get the friends? What will you do next Friday night? Does this mean you can’t talk to his sister, anymore?
An era of your life has ended, but you don’t yet know what the new one looks like. That’s a good thing. Think back on all those times when a “bad” turn of events turned out to be great. You were turned down for a job you wanted, but then found a much better one a few months later. You lost the lease on your beloved apartment and had to move to a new neighborhood, where you met your best friend. When something that we don’t like happens, we assume it’s the end of the story. Actually, it’s the start of a new page one.
3) It Doesn’t Have to Be “All Good.”
M. J. Ryan, author of How To Survive Change … You Didn’t Ask For, says many people believe they can’t move on from a setback until they’ve decided that the change was 100 percent good. This is a mistake. “You don’t have to like what’s happening in order to accept it,” says Ryan.
Some people are great at looking back on a past relationship and declaring that the whole fiasco was meant to be. This is not necessary. The breakup doesn’t have to be all good. You just have find something good. What did this relationship teach you? How could that lesson serve you in the future? What new opportunities are available to you now?
And if you can’t think of anything at the moment, don’t stress. Put on a nice sweater. Go to the party. Have some egg nog. This might not be the most fun holiday ever, but remember: many, many people just like you are dealing with this, too. If you’re feeling alone, you’re not alone.
Sara Eckel is the author of It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single. You can get a free bonus chapter of her book at saraeckel.com. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook. Ask her any questions here.