Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Breakups vs. The Holidays

The holidays are approaching and this leaves with some mixed feelings. You see, my breakup began shortly after New Years and although we were still together during the actual holidays, they were still tinged with crap.

Because of this, I’ve been thinking about what to expect this year when Christmas gets closer and I wondered just how much the memories of the breakup might affect the holidays for me. I mean, I was warned that my first holidays without my ex would be wracked with nostalgic emotional bullshit, but at first I found this hard to believe.

My ex hated the holidays, much less his birthday, and I on the other hand loved them. I've always spent the entire month of December happily decorating our home, usually by myself for the last few years with very little help. (Besides, of course, the year my bestie and I lived together and our home was a happy collaboration of Christmas-meets-Hanukkah holiday funness.) So I figured that when the holidays came around this year, I would almost look forward to freely reveling in full Christmas ridiculousness with no one around to scoff at me as I happily spent weeks decorating a tree far too big for my apartment. It never seemed like it would be particularly rough for me.

But then something happened, I got my first glimpse of the holiday bullshit I was warned about, but it was sneaky; no one warned me about the birthdays. His birthday snuck up on me and involuntarily sucked me into remembering all the birthdays we had together; full force nostalgia grabbed me and wouldn't let go.

So why did this happen? I guess it’s obvious. It's that damned nostalgia.

Nostalgia describes a longing for the past, often in an idealized form. The holidays (and birthdays too) are a perfect setup for this. It’s on those days of the year that you do especially sweet things for each other and it's easy to remember the happier times and see your relationship in its most ideal, happy glowy, form.

But there is also a flip-side to the holidays. They’re stressful too and I think they can be excellent tests of a couple's partnership; how you handle the stress is good fodder for why or why not you work as a team. And in my case, I have to remind myself of all the various not-so-nice things from those holidays too and the ways in which we were truly not ideal, or a team for that matter.

So now the Christmas decorations are up all over town and it does leave me with a little anxiety. After all, it’s my first Christmas without him. But I went ahead and bought myself an awesome tree and fully enjoyed decorating it with hearts and bubble lights and tinsel; and when I felt a little nostalgic while doing so, I managed to stop and look around my home and suddenly feel so proud and relieved about how much has changed in just short of a year. And while I'd like to say that any nostalgic memories that feel like creeping in can go right ahead and suck it, I'll really say that I'm well aware that this time might be difficult, but I also know that where I am now vs. where I was a year ago is a happy improvement. And that's what’s really worth celebrating.

So Dear Followers of my humble blog, how are you feeling about the holidays coming up? Optimistic? Anxious? I'd love to know because I know I'm not alone. And by the way, the blogger over at the The Rules of Breakup has her own holiday story to tell too.

Photo by by GcD^3 pictures

1 comment:

  1. I think I'm all of the above.

    Yet I can't make the butterflies go away! I know something amazing will happen this christmas. I just don't know what.



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