I just divorced and was dreading Christmas

Divorced

As a cradle Catholic, I never thought I’d get a divorce, but I ended up with one earlier this year.

Since we came to the decision, I’ve been dreading Christmas — the decorations, the Santa visits, the holiday cards.

Christmas seemed all about perfect families and frameable moments, and this year I didn’t want any part of it.

I grew up in a conservative, middle-class suburb, where in my mind family meant two parents, at least a couple of kids, and where divorce was rare.

I assumed that would be my future, too.

But life happened, and despite my partner and I both being fundamentally good people who tried our best, we simply didn’t work together.

I spent the early part of the year stubbornly wishing my family looked like my perception of everyone else’s and feeling like a failure because it didn’t.

But a conversation with a Catholic priest helped me reframe my expectations.

He suggested that my family, however it looked, wasn’t less than any other.

The Bible is full of nontraditional families, he said. Sarah is elderly with just one child. Jacob’s crazy in-laws married him to the wrong woman, and he ended up with two wives who birthed a nation of kids.

Hagar raised a child alone in the wilderness, abused and forgotten by the people who caused her situation, but not forgotten by God.

She too birthed a nation.

And remember, the priest reminded me, the Holy Family wasn’t exactly a traditional one: an unplanned pregnancy and a virgin birth.

Joseph was a foster father to Jesus.

It’s not hard to imagine Mary and Joseph feeling ill-equipped to be good parents.

They, too, were figuring it out as they went along.

Equally importantly, the priest encouraged me to reach out to my community.

So I took a small step. I opened up to a friend about my loss.

As it turned out, she’d been struggling with depression but hadn’t told me.

I reached out to another friend. As a single woman without kids, she, too, felt on the margins this season.

Thinking about my divorce and Christmas had so consumed me that I hadn’t realized how reaching out might also bless others.

My own feelings of brokenness weren’t as isolated as I’d believed.

So many people I know are also struggling with conceptions of how we thought our lives and families were supposed to look compared to how they are. Continue reading

  • Lauren Kosa is a Northern Virginia-based writer. She tweets at @LaurenKosa
  • Image: Kidspot

 

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