It’s a hard fact of relationship counseling that the ideal outcome isn’t always “and they lived happily ever after.” Unfortunately, this can be especially true if sex or porn addiction is a factor when the addicted partner is not able to make the necessary changes. Sometimes, the best thing for a couple to do is go their separate ways, for the sake of the well being of all involved.
This revelation is sometimes met with relief, sometimes with anger, sometimes with resignation — but I have noticed that when this revelation happens during the holidays, it is most often met with fear, and an immediate drop in self-esteem.
I have written before about how difficult it can be to be in a struggling relationship during the holidays, but what happens when you realize you’re about to be in no romantic relationship at all?
In an effort to drown out these very real feelings, which must be dealt with, some women can get themselves into destructive behavior patterns We can have this crushing feeling that we’re supposed to be with someone romantically during the holidays, so being alone is an outcome to be avoided at all costs.
Needless to say, this can spell trouble.
Here’s What NOT to Do
* Don’t try to power through the holidays by staying in a toxic relationship. Make no mistake, no matter what the commercials or magazine ads seem to suggest, you won’t be happier simply because you have someone to buy gifts for.
* Don’t ignore changes in your sleep patterns. If you find yourself suddenly struggling with either insomnia, or struggling to get out of bed, these may be very real physical manifestations of stress you’re feeling. Bring them up to your counselor, and your physician.
* Don’t turn to food as the answer. By this, I mean neither stuff nor starve yourself. You deserve to fuel your body appropriately, and punishing yourself with one extreme or the other isn’t fair, and won’t change the greater situation at hand.
* Don’t turn to substances, spending, or drastic changes to your appearance. These are all attempts to “erase” who you are, and these actions just reinforce the incorrect notion that you are worth erasing.
* Don’t undersell your own value. Women tend to throw themselves into the holidays thinking they somehow don’t do enough. All the meal preparation, hosting, shopping, gift-wrapping, etc. doesn’t make you a more or less valuable person. You are already worth loving, you are already worth someone’s time, and those around you already appreciate you.
Why Do We Feel This Way?
It can be very hard to see your own worth through the haze of a dying relationship. So many women tie their stability and self image to that of their relationship, so when one falls apart, so does the other.
I don’t want to dismiss these feelings, because they are very real, and lots of women struggle with them. For so many women, their relationship is the keystone holding up the rest of their lives. They define themselves as a wife, a partner, or a girlfriend, and when that status is clearly about to go away, their self-esteem can wobble.
That alone is enough to make most of us feel terrible, but when you add the stress of the holidays into the mix, things can go downhill fast. Some feel that they are “expected” to show up at holiday parties with dates, some worry that their children will lose out of feelings of stability or family togetherness, some fall into depressions at the thought of being alone during this time of year.
They are hard feelings to combat, but you can work through them constructively.
It’s Always About Self-Care
You are more valuable than you know. The ending of a relationship requires you to transition from one stage of life to the next; so why not greet this new stage with a new understanding of yourself, and your worth? Why not present yourself to the world the way you want to be presented?
Yes, you need time to grieve and process the end of your relationship, but you also need guidance to find your way back out of that grief when it’s time.
This is one of the transitions I help women with all the time. If you are struggling with your partner’s addiction, and think it might lead to the end of your relationship, reach out. If you’re afraid of facing this reality during the holidays, and are thinking you might stay in an unhappy relationship for the sake of holiday expectations, reach out.
This is a difficult time of year for many women, but help is always available.