[Continuing the Your life back on track article series from Jessica Kasevich of JK Therapy...]

The First Christmas

By Jessica Kasevich

It was the first Christmas after fifteen years of marriage that they would not be together. The kids were spending this holiday with her. He would have them for New Year’s. As his cell phone beeped from another incoming Merry Christmas text message, he pulled the covers over his head and thought “yeah, what a Merry Christmas this will be. Don’t my friends know not to pick the scab off of such a recent cut, as the divorce was just finalized in November?”

Sure his friends were happy as they would be eating Christmas dinner in their $600k suburban homes with their spouses and kids, instead of sitting alone on a lawn chair in an unfinished one bedroom apartment, with a Hot Pocket and a Heineken.

He had been sleeping an average of fourteen hours a day to avoid the feelings of sadness that started three years ago, when she told him she was having an affair and wanted a divorce. He fought the advice of his friends to talk to a psychiatrist about getting on an antidepressant to help mange the never ending pain from going through a divorce. He did not believe in medication.

He never thought anything was wrong with their marriage. He thought she was happy. He had provided her with a beautiful home, two children and the luxury of raising them as a stay at home mom. Wasn’t this what was suppose to make her happy? Being able to provide this lifestyle for her had fulfilled him beyond any of the expectation he had of marriage.

He had fallen in love with her on the first date and began to call her his princess that night. He fell in love with her passion for life and independence, after hearing of her travels through Europe, South and Central America alone. This independence reminded him of his mother. She had raised his brother and him alone after the car accident.

Sucks: Distraught during Christmastime

Would the feelings of loneliness forever linger? Would he ever trust that someone could love him again and keep the promises of for better or worse? Would the Catholic guilt from his divorce subside, offering him the opportunity to step back into the church to receive the spiritual grace that had always comforted him? Would Christmas ever be his favorite holiday again?

This Christmas all he could think about was how unfair life was. He had been the best husband and father he could have possibly been and yet he has divorced, alone and angry. How could he spend a Christmas morning without watching his children open the gifts that Santa had brought? How did his life get to this point? He was sick of people saying that “time heals all wounds,” especially coming from people who had never been married. The loss he suffered was not only a loss of a wife he thought was his best friend, the ability to spend all his extra time with his children, but also of his ideals on marriage. He never thought he would be divorced.

Theme of the Holiday Season

During the holiday’s feelings of loss are magnified by the theme of the season: family, and the idea that we are suppose to have someone to spend our lives with and who will always loves us.

If this season you are at a loss for a relationship sadness may seem to last for what seems like forever instead of from the beginning of November when Starbucks starts selling pumpkin lattes to the last note of Auld Lang Syne on New Year’s Eve.

How are those who are lonely, recently had a loss, a death in the family, divorce or a breakup supposed to manage this season of joy when all that is felt is sadness?

Road to recovery starts with you

He throws the covers off the bed while looking up at the ceiling asking “God why am I in this difficult place and what do you have planned for me?”

As he swung his legs from the bed onto the floor, he decides to call each of his friends who had messaged him allowing them to provide him with the love and support he needed to get through this day. He thanked them for their Christmas blessings and for also being there for him over the past year. He realized that he could not have gotten through the divorce without their support and for that he was thankful.

He also realized he was thankful that his family and friends did not judge him for his failed marriage or the depression he allowed himself to stay stuck in for way too long. He thanked his friends for constantly listening to his anger over his lawyer’s ability to keep his ex and him fighting in order to pay off his shore house.

The comfort of their voices this Christmas made him feel that he was not alone and that he had people who loved him and would always be there for him even if he had tried to push them away when he was depressed.

How to Deal with Holiday Depression

He managed his depression in a way that may seem impossible for those dealing with loss during the Holidays. He pushed himself out of bed instead of isolating himself. He allowed support and love to come into his life by reaching out to family and friends to make him feel less alone. He fought through the urge to isolate himself.

Isolation is common when one is feeling lonely and depressed and presents in many forms: not picking up the phone when friends reach out, sleeping, not engaging in social or activities one enjoys.

If you find you are reacting to your depression in these ways this holiday season, the season may be difficult to handle.

What are some ways in which you can cope with the holiday blues? You can, REACH OUT to others, pick a friend who can act as your drill sergeant ordering you to, “Get out of bed and go to the gym! Drive to your family’s home! Meet a friend for a cup of coffee!”

A friend’s push can be the first step to the beginning of a happier holiday season. This holiday season be open to receive the gift of the season giving from friends and family!