A New Year, a New Beginning
The “holiday season” is for many around us not the time of year they are looking forward to. Maybe as kids they once did. To some the pain is intensified as they are not feeling “the holiday spirit”, something that is as much assumed by many others.
It is the time of year people visit family or have family members coming over for a visit. For many it means “faking” some smiles for the camera and holding in grief and at all costs trying to keep calm and carry on. It is a bit easier for those relying on Skype and FaceTime as the time of connecting is limited and planned.
Of course, there is always the Internet: “8 ways to stay calm and cool”, accompanied by tons of advertisements for medications or things such as magic bracelets that either do nothing or make matters worse (meds) and contribute to the ever-increasing pile of junk in the world.
Then there are also the better websites that teach the re-labelling of emotions to train your amygdala that your current perception of anxiety is not in response to the usual flight-or-flight situation, but one that offers opportunities for healing. The exercises you can do to help you to restore your breathing and heartbeat to a normal pace. Those exercises can be frustrating as it is so easier to fall into the “old” pattern than to replace it with a new one.
You might perceive it as learning a new behaviour, comparable to learning snowboarding from scratch or a new card game, or a fancy new dance move. It is frustrating, but you know you feel better when you are no longer the ultimate beginner, but start to get a grip on it. It provides you with confidence and hope that change is possible.
Spouses of partners who decided to try to make it work as there is still a lot of goodness in the relationship struggle as much as others who experience intense grief after a loss. If you are the spouse of a partner who betrayed you, and you have chosen to stay and make it work. It means that you have a partner who has expressed intense and genuine remorse. You have a partner who has done the work and who keeps on doing what is needed to heal you and the relationship.
It does not mean that you are a loser who is too afraid to leave. You would have done that, if your partner remained the deceiving person they were when betraying you and many did do this, and I do hope that they are becoming stronger every day.
Being with family members who do not know the story behind the changes they see in you is not devastating, but it is challenging.
Feeling like an imposter and perceiving that you are faking it, may be true to some extent, but it is not helpful. You might instead try to reframe your efforts as responding to the many positives in your life rather than to the painful ones.
If you are one of those who when looking at yourself in the mirror is overly negative and critical, I challenge you to find at least three things that are pretty good about you.
When negatives of the past creep up on you, tell yourself that this was the past and that all of that is no longer welcome in your present world.
When you start blaming yourself for the crisis in your marriage caused by the betrayal of your partner, stop immediately, as this is not your doing and you cannot take responsibility for something you did not do and something you did not know. If you feel that you were “stupid” to have missed the signs that are so clear in hindsight, tell yourself that you did not see them as you trusted your partner.
If some family members are a constant negative influence, you may want to distance yourself from them and seek out others.
If the news is depressing, look up something fun, no matter how useless. Funny cat videos seem to lift the spirit of some of us.
When you need to vent, do so, and chose a time and place that is safe. People who know what you are going through, will understand and others…well, you hope that they will never understand it as it means that they have experienced a similar pain.
Hold your head up high…You are doing something that is extremely difficult…and you are doing it for the right reasons and for the right people…those who care about you and who love you.
And never forget that you can do this and that you are not alone….