Reclaiming Christmas

As I noted yesterday, Christmas 2010 was miserable for me.  The pain was so overwhelming that I couldn’t get a grip on it and enjoy the holidays.  Christmas 2011 was much better.  I did about half of my normal celebrating.  I decorated – just in time for Christmas Eve – and I cooked special meals and goodies for my family.  No one outside the immediate family – I was not focused enough for that.

Here we are at Christmas 2012.  I want to reclaim Christmas as my time of peace, joy, and love. How did I get from my miserable Christmas 2 years ago to enjoying Christmas now?  God taught me to compartmentalize.

We talk frequently about how many cheating spouses compartmentalize their lives in order to be able to lie straight-faced to us and betray us in the worst possible way.  Compartmentalizing like that is a defense mechanism that allows us to function while dealing with something difficult.  If it works for cheaters in dealing with their guilt, it can work for me in dealing with my pain and depression.

I’m learning that it is indeed necessary, for me anyway, to compartmentalize in order to live life again. I need to push dark thoughts away and deal with them when I am alone. It’s not always easy, and depression is always there – when I push thoughts away, depression doesn’t disappear. It just goes into hiding, but is still close enough for me to feel its presence right outside the door. But I can keep that door closed for periods of time in order to enjoy the moment.

Dark thoughts do need to be dealt with in order to keep moving forward in healing.  We can’t just push them away and then never let them out again.  But we can box them up short-term if the pain has subsided enough.  In 2010 my pain was too much to box up.  Now I can do it for periods of time.  Not all day, but for periods of time.

So, all that said, I am reclaiming Christmas as my time to celebrate the birth of my Savior, and to enjoy family, friends, and the traditions that help bind us to one another.

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20 thoughts on “Reclaiming Christmas

  1. Keep that door closed for now…and later, open it up and beat the living daylights out of depression. It may still be there…but it will be mortally wounded. This will happen as you continue to find your strength. Peace to you this holiday season.

    • Not Over It says:

      LFBA! My wise sage – I have missed you. I hope you are doing well – and have beaten the crap out of your own issues after becoming a single man again. I intend of giving it all I got with my own. Been wearing that lead apron far too long…

      Grace and peace to you, too, my friend.

      Love & prayers,
      DJ

  2. nmwf1 says:

    Hi All, Last Christmas was very miserable for me, and I am still struggling this year, but I am trying to stay positive. But my 34th wedding anniversary is the 29th of December, Last year I could not even acknowledge our anniversary, and he was afraid to mention it, he knew by my body language on that day, that trouble was brewing. We have always celebrated our anniversary’s in the past, but I was so angry last year on that day, I almost dared him to wish me a happy anniversary. Of course he didn’t out of fear, (he could not win) my anger built up unto a rage and melt down with him, and I spoiled any hope of a happy day of celebration of our anniversary. . I am a little worried about it this year as well, mainly because of my up and down emotional year. I am simply not ready to celebrate our anniversary and wedding vows , they don’t seem to mean that much to me anymore, at least not the ones that he said to me on that day, bitter sounding I know, You are right; I am. I wish my heart would mend. Frankly I am sick of all of this. (I feel like I am on a constant pity party, and it is getting old! ) But! I already put up my Christmas tree and decorations. I am trying to give my self a rest from all of this. We have our first Grand baby, she will be fun this Christmas, she just started walking a month ago and I want to enjoy her. Anyway if I didn’t put up my decorations, my kids would wonder what was wrong because I have always put them up the day after Thanksgiving, and last year and this year were no exceptions, I am trying to get into the holiday mood. Maybe i will have a good attitude towards my anniversary on the 29th, Time will tell. .I am going to make the best of the Holidays this year.

    • RatherBeMe says:

      Good for you. The effort you are making will pay off in the future.
      I found out the three days before Christmas, had my meltdown, drugged got through it. It was never the same for years and years. Depression started every November. Still does now after all of these years. I finally stood up for myself.
      I don’t decorate. Simple. I went from a wonderful holiday to a time for the worst depression. I feel better, because I am control of my life.
      I hope it works out for you.

      • Not Over It says:

        Hey RBM – I just noticed that you posted on your blog recently. I do see where you are in your life at this time and I am glad you are talking it out. You deserve some good, clean happiness in your life.

        Your words give me more resolve. I’m not going to hope it works. It *is* going to work out for me because I say it will. I am strong enough now and I am reclaiming it and that means I am in control of it. I’m sure there will be triggers and setbacks and moments of weakness, but I am going to make it work. This is a decision that is mine alone. If my husband doesn’t want to enjoy Christmas, that will be his problem. I disengage from that mess, at least for the holidays.

        Am I coming dangerously close to being emotionally divorced? Haha – I’ll visit your blog again and discuss this with you.

        Love & prayers,
        DJ

    • Not Over It says:

      HI NM – it must be difficult to have your wedding anniversary so close to Christmas. Pain tends to bleed all over into surrounding areas. My wedding anniversary is also a very sensitive and tender subject for me, even after two years. But mine is in August so it’s different.

      Maybe we should talk about methods people have used to push the dark thoughts away. I’ll post about mine and then we can see where that takes us. You could then pull ideas that might work for you. Your pain will not go away, but you could at least enjoy some holiday moments and some of the joy of being a gramma. There is nothing like it in the entire world!

      You need some respite away from the pain, NM. I wish I could be there in person to help you through this, but I will do all I can in our little blogging community.

      Love & prayers,
      DJ

  3. Carol says:

    DJ, you are a role model for me. I hope I can compartmentalize like you do! I am having a rough time of it lately, which surprises me. I’d thought I was doing better, but lately the reality of what my H did and all the lies he told has been hitting me like the proverbial tidal wave, and I withdraw from him again. He is really trying, but I just seem to be stuck. Your post is reminding me to focus on the essentials: I am Christian, and so the Incarnation is, well, rather a big deal. 🙂 And quite good news as well.

    • Not Over It says:

      Hi Carol – oh, you’re making me blush. I am actually scared. Afraid that it will be much too hard. But I’m talking it up big in my heart and in my blog – I *am* going to make it work, at least through the holidays I am going to work hard to reclaim a little happiness in my Christmas. If I fall apart after New Year’s, well… I’ll deal with that when the time comes.

      We both know God, and we know this is a big deal. And out of our praises during this holiday season will come glory fulfilled for us and for everyone.

      You are probably coming right up to the point of acceptance. That’s where I am, too. The pain is different than before, but there is still pain and the depression is deep. I have been all over the place in my emotions with my husband. I have also withdrawn at times and struggled with why that is. My Coach James said this is the process of coming to acceptance. It’ll be rough going again for a while, but we will make it.

      Love & prayers,
      DJ

  4. junebug says:

    New here – The tree is up – We have ornaments for our children and ornaments from our vacations/memories. I do not have a single ornament from before the affair up. Those ornaments are painful and remind me of the lie my marriage was. Maybe someday I will be able to put those ornaments up again, but for now, I will probably rip my husband to shreds if he even so much as suggests putting up any ‘couple’ ornaments! I am not to the compartmentalizing part yet. Hopefully someday – sooner rather than later!

    • Not Over It says:

      Hi Junebug – welcome. I’m sorry that you are going through this, too, but glad you have found our blogging community.

      I know how you feel about those pre-affair things. I still wonder how much of it was ever true. We moved into a new house just a few days before Dday, so my decorating has been post-affair. There are no pictures of my husband and me anywhere. No memories of things we did together… I don’t know when I’ll ever get around to changing that. Not putting up those things, and like you, not putting up “couple” ornaments has helped me to be able to compartmentalize. You will get there.

      How long has it been for you?

      Grace and peace to you,
      DJ

      • junebug says:

        I had my suspicions for over a year. Confirmed for 5 months. I’m still at the point of wanting to throw things. I have been reading your posts and comments from others. It is absolutely amazing the similarities. I wish the offending spouses would take a good look at this site and see the faithful spouse is not ‘wrong’ in their thoughts, etc. I look forward to more reading.

      • Not Over It says:

        Hey Junebug – that’s a cute screen name. My goodness – you’re just 5 months out. You are middle of the worst part of it all. Please remember to take care of yourself first. Everything else takes a back seat right now to you, yourself, and your needs.

        You know, actually, a full half of my subscribers are ex-wayward spouses. Capital EX. There are many who are trying to understand the other side of things by reading blogs like mine. I am strong enough now to read a few blogs by waywards, too, in order to better understand my husband. At your stage, I wouldn’t advise it just yet.

        Doug, from Emotional Affair Journey, has said that he thinks it would be good for ex-waywards to read a couple of betrayed spouse blogs regularly. Do you think your husband would? My husband definitely would NOT. But I guess that’s a large part of the reason I am here. I need the support and friendships we all find here.

        Doug’s statement is also one of the reasons that Doug is one of my heroes. He didn’t always handle everything well, and I’m sure his wife Linda still comes across issues with him, but with her love and support, he has for a long time now been able to do the right things and stay open to communicating with her. If more ex-waywards were like him, there wouldn’t be so much long-term pain on these blogs. I so wish my husband would become part of Doug and Linda’s mentoring program. It’s highly unlikely but I can dream…

        I’m glad you are here with us, Junebug. I look forward to hearing more from you…

        DJ

  5. Liberty says:

    DJ….I have decided it is easier to cope with the holidays with children at home. Thank God I have one left at home or we would not have had Thanksgiving dinner….and we would not have our tree up yet! But we have to keep our spirits up for the kids, I want him to have a happy Christmas so I will try hard!

    We did have our 1st counseling appt. today and I really liked her. I asked her questions and I am comfortable with her answers. She did not say “get over it already” so that is a good sign. LOL I think my H thought she was blunt but he needs that now. We are both committed to going once a week and I am praying it helps…If I could just get over this feeling of complete sadness, anger, and wondering if he is telling the truth I might be able to move forward, but…I don’t know. I am still digging for something, I don’t trust my H and I don’t know if I will again. My H has for sure taken so much away from me and I might not ever get it back.

    Take care everyone!!! Liberty

    • Not Over It says:

      Hi Liberty – Yay! I’m glad things are starting off well with the new counselor. A word of caution – I don’t know if you’ve heard this, but many people think that they are supposed to feel all warm and fuzzy and good after a counseling session, but that is usually not the case. Counseling involves getting down to the nitty gritty of people’s personalities and feelings, their strengths and weaknesses. It can feel grueling and emotional and even exhausting at times. There are other times when things fall into place and it feels wonderful, but more often than not it’s difficult. I often went home and cried. Coach James sometimes gets me crying, too. It’s just part of the process.

      It’s wonderful that you still have a son at home. I think they give us a sense of purpose so that we take our minds off our pain.

      I think the sadness and anger will get better but will not go away until you believe you have the whole story and that you can live with it. Be patient. You will learn to compartmentalize before the feelings actually go away.

      Love & prayers,
      DJ

  6. Liberty says:

    Thank you for telling me. I have been sad since we left the counselors office. I started crying as soon as I got in my car. I am glad to hear that is normal. I’m really sick of all these “new ” normals!

    Liberty xoxo

    • nmwf1 says:

      Hah! Sick of the new norm is an understatement. I am now a year and 4 months out from D Day and sometimes I feel as if it were yesterday. I have been seeing a counselor and every time I leave there, I am exhausted, sick to my stomach and no better off then when I went in. I really don’t know what it is going to take, to come to terms with, what my husband did. Time is supposed to heel, but honestly that is questionable when it comes to infidelity. In my mind, I still cannot grasp how my husband could carry on for months behind my back with another woman, without extreme guilt. Honestly, HOW COULD HE? But the biggest hurdle that I cannot get over, is the fact that he had someone else on his mind and in his heart for a while instead of me. I don’t know if I really even existed to him, while his head was stuck up her ass. The cell bill clearly shows how much he was concerned about me at the time. He camped on the phone with her, I was just a person he was obligated to check in with. I am tortured in my mind because, I wonder if he ever thinks of her. (I’m sure he does) I sometimes feel so pathetic because, (you know he works out of town) well I remember back before I found out. We had a sort of routine, He would always call me right after work, on his way back to our RV. but then he got to where he would not call me until an hour or more later after he got off work. I would always think he was probably pissy about something, so I would cop an attitude and tell myself, Fine, if he doesn’t want to call me, than I won’t call him and see how he likes it. or I would tell myself, I’ll show him, I don’t know what his problem is, but if he don’t call me than I won’t call him and I will let him stew.. OMG!! THE JOKE WAS ON ME He could care less if I called, he was preoccupied with someone else. He also had a routine of calling me at 5;30 in the morning, to talk to me on his way to work, I never minded him calling and waking me up so early in the morning to talk because it started off my day. But suddenly, I wasn’t getting his morning call, and I would ask him why didn’t you call me, I missed you this morning! and he would tell me, Oh honey I just wanted to let you sleep in, You need your rest and I don’t want to keep waking you up so early. (What a fool he made of me!) He wasn’t worried about me at all, he wanted to talk to her on his way to work. I cringe just thinking about it. So anyway, This road we are on is rough. I know exactly where you are cumming from when you say you are sick of the new norm, ME TOOOOOOO!!!! The whole thing just plain SUCKS! ( God help me! wheres the Tylenol )

      • Not Over It says:

        I hear you, NM. There are still times, once in a while, when I cannot even look at my husband because something has triggered the memories and I feel like I’m back in the beginning stages of the trauma. That’s the PTSD talking. Not everyone goes through PTSD. It’s usually those who had no clue and were totally and completely shocked by the discovery. I should have recognized the clues, but I was so absolutely sure of his integrity and loyalty that I found a reason for every single thing that should have been a red flag. So the shock overtook me and I developed PTSD. Then I developed fibromyalgia.

        It took me a while, but I am a fighter and I will overcome. So will you, NM. So will you.

        Love & prayers,
        DJ

  7. nmwf1 says:

    Hi Dj, PTSD is exactly what I have and you summed it up exactly, It is defiantly because we had no clue and we totally trusted our husbands in every way. And like you hind site is 20/20. The signs might have been there but I dismissed them, because infidelity in my mind could never factor in, God help me I wished I wasn’t so blinded by trust.
    Love and prayers to you too.

  8. Teresa says:

    nmwf1,
    I hear ya! It’s hard recovering from infidelity because it requires trust…and we’ve had our trust thrown back in our faces, after our CS trampled all over it…and they didn’t even have the decency to say “Hey, I’m about to ruin your life for the next 3-5 yrs, hope you don’t mind?”

    I can’t let the thoughts into my head, otherwise the anger just overwhelms me!! So I push them away, and I’m good for about 2 weeks, then I either leave the house and have a good cry all by myself…a real pity party….or I start getting kinda sarcastic with my H, and calling the cow names….Doesn’t really help, other than making me feel good, LOL!
    I’m like DJ, I’m compartmentalizing…and didn’t even know it, until she mentioned it! LOL! Yea for me!

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