Broken Hearts at the Holiday Season

Why on earth would I write about being broken-hearted during the holiday season? Most people think about the joys of celebrating the holidays with their loved ones. They think about the hot cocoa and the opportunities that the holiday season brings. Yet, there is a stark reality that many people don’t wish to discuss and that is how to handle a broken heart during a season that is supposed to be filled with joy. There are no easy answers. The first year that my father had died, Christmas was tough for me and my mom. My heart ached because my father was the one person who had been my rock. He understood me better than anyone else and those who knew the two of us often remarked that our actions mirrored one another. Our facial expressions could be identical. We’d both look at you the same way with that sneaky smirk or with a glint in our eye when we were up to mischief. We were two peas in a pod. My mom often said that even though she was the one who delivered me, that I was so much like my father. I process things like my dad did. I talk out loud to sort out my thoughts and it can be frustrating to know that sometimes my talking out loud can make me sound crazy. I tend to do this when I’m alone or at least think I’m alone because it helps my brain to absorb information. Everyone tends to learn differently. I’m no exception.

I’m a loner at heart. I choose to be most of the time because I’ve been burned so much over the years that trust doesn’t come easily for me. The man that I want – well let’s just say that he has broken my heart almost beyond repair. People I thought were my friends were among some of the first to use me and leave me shocked at their betrayal. Others who are on a shortlist of friends are doing more with their lives and while I’m tickled for them, I’m left at a crossroads. Part of me wants to pack up and move away to another country and another part of me recognizes that I’m running. Running seems to be one of the things we do best when we can’t or won’t face the hurt we are enduring. The holidays make things worse when I see movies that end in happily ever after stories. Then I witness others blissfully happy and unaware of the hurt others are facing. Recently, one of the men I work with said I was an extrovert. I think that’s a perception that those around me believe but there are many days where I prefer to be in a quiet setting without interruptions. That isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy getting with friends because I do. A lot depends on the mood I’m in and if I feel like engaging in conversations.

Losing children is devastating. It’s something that I don’t wish on my worst enemy. When you lose a child, you lose a part of you that you never get back. Words often fail you but the worst part is during the holiday season when you see the joy in so many children’s faces when they talk of Santa. They have an innocence and true excitement over what the season will bring. This is the time of year that we see kids get excited about the holiday season. Virus or no virus the holiday season is a time for hope and miracles. But when those miracles don’t happen for you and you lose the child or never conceived a child that you craved to hold in your arms, there can be devastation that you can’t describe to others. Your soul feels as empty as a tomb. There is a sense of jealousy that you have to fight because you want to be happy for those with kids but there is undeniable anger that dwells inside you. The hard part is fighting through the anger and depression that can consume a person during this time of year. The hurt becomes compounded when many you love are celebrating with their families and you feel lost and alone. When you encounter something of this magnitude, you have to fight those feelings until you learn to let go.

I don’t mean to sound despondent because I’m not. I am recognizing that this time of year can be extremely difficult on lots of folks who may be hurting from a breakup or a death. It could be the loss of a job or a pet. There are so many variables that can bring hurt to many of us throughout the holiday season. What I am trying to do is bring awareness that this season is filled with opportunities for change. It may not always be a pleasant change. What it does mean is that even when hearts break, hearts go through various seasons in our lives. We all deal with hurt and confusion at times when joy is around everyone else we encounter. There are things that we can do to help us get through these difficult times.

The first thing that anyone dealing with heartbreak over the holidays has to do is to acknowledge the pain. None of us are perfect. You don’t have to tell the world you are hurting. What you do have to do is to identify the fact you are hurting. Being mindful of your emotions is the first step to being able to heal. Healing isn’t easy. It takes time and nurturing but it can happen if you let it.

The next thing is to allow yourself some time to throw the covers back over your head and regroup. Don’t use this as an excuse. Sleeping all day all the time is never a good thing. But recharging your batteries, and then getting out there with friends and engaging in activities is one of the best medicines in the world. I lost a lot in a short period. I lost a job, a child, my father, and ran into a lot of health complications myself. Had it not been for my friends, I don’t know that I could have gotten through those storms. It took their encouragement, love, understanding, and empathy to get me back on my feet. Real friends pick you up when you are down. They don’t make you feel that everything else takes precedence. They listen and let you cry. They let you get angry and expect you to do the same when they need you. I’m grateful I have those people in my life. I wish everyone had people they could depend on. Some folks haven’t gotten that blessing yet. There are a lot of people in this world who will claim to be your friend. Pay attention to the actions of others. This is a testament to the type of friend they are.

Eat well and exercise. This should be a given but many of us go straight for the junk food when we hurt. Ice Cream and I have a love affair when I’m nursing a broken heart. Unfortunately, it’s not good for my hips or stomach but when I have hit rock bottom, I didn’t care. I just knew that the ice cream felt good going down my throat after a lot of tears were shed. Now I’m paying for it to lose the weight from heartbreak eating.

Lean on those that you love. We all need a support system. What’s important is that we don’t allow ourselves to wallow in self-pity. Holidays can make things worse but don’t let them. Use the time to immerse yourself in healthy activities. Even with the pandemic, there are food drives, volunteer events, support groups, and other opportunities to take your focus off of your problems. Believe it or not, many people in this world are struggling. Many people have problems worse than you do. Recognize this and be willing to work through the hurt. Sometimes finding others who are hurting worse can be the medicine you never knew you needed. We often get so caught up in our pain, that when we discover others who are struggling, we have our eyes opened to different scenarios. Deal with the pain you are going through. Remember the holidays are the start of a rebirth. Every season brings us something or someone new. Be open to what life has to offer. Your life is filled with stories that make you stronger than you were before. Arm yourself with the ability to be in tune with what affects you most, and share yourself with others. You may find that you are the light that is needed when the holiday season looks bleak. All you need to do is plug yourself into a world of possibilities. As you pull out your decorations, remember it’s okay to feel like a “Bah Humbug.” But just like Scrooge, let the season fill you with unabashed joy.

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