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My mother was already at my house for the festivities, with the rest of my family joining later for dinner. As my two-year-old son, Lorenzo, was opening his Christmas presents, my phone ran out of power. I asked my husband if I could borrow his phone, and that’s when I saw the text message pop up. It read, “Merry Christmas. I love you, baby. Give Lorenzo a kiss for me.” My husband saw the look on my face and snatched the phone back. But by then it was too late. I took him into another room away from my mother, and I told him to pack up and leave.
It took the pressure off and gave me space to grieve.
By then I was in no state to cook Christmas dinner. Fortunately, my mom reached out to my aunt—who offered to host the celebration at her house. I can’t even explain what a huge help that was. It took the pressure off and gave me space to grieve.
My cousin volunteered to stay with me while the rest of my family had dinner at my aunt’s. We had wine, watched a corny movie, and I cried to her. She didn’t have any amazing pieces of advice, and that was fine. She just sat there and listened—and that meant a lot. It was her Christmas too, but she gave it up to be there for me.
The days that followed were the hardest. I was off work, so I sat at home and just relived what had happened. It was awful. Meanwhile, all my family was still in town for the holidays. I felt the need to show up to gatherings and events, even though I was in no mood to go.
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When it’s dark out, that’s when you allow yourself to weep and be broken. But when the sun comes up, let the light in.
What helped me the most to come out of the darkness was something my friend said to me: “Imagine there’s a switch in your brain. When it’s dark out, that’s when you allow yourself to weep and be broken. But when the sun comes up, let the light in.” That made all the difference. It let me organize and separate my grieving time from my family time. It allowed me to be more present.
After having an intensely miserable January, I knew I had to do something. I typically have a very cheery personality, and it felt so unlike me to be sad. I knew I had to heal, so I began to meditate, committing to a thirty-day meditation “boot camp.” Though I sometimes cried through my practice, it didn’t matter. I was taking strides to take care of myself.
Now I’m looking forward to Christmas. After all, it’s my favorite holiday. I anticipate that this year will still be hard because my ex will have our son on Christmas Eve. I don’t get him until Christmas Day. But I’m prepared for the moments when I break down. Not only will I have my incredibly supportive family and friends around me, but I’m also arming myself with uplifting books, movies, and playlists. When I feel down, I’m going to have something to pick me up.
Image credit: Angie Meyers