IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

How I got through my first, post-divorce holiday

Divorce lawyer Sonia Micciche shares strategies she used to adjust her mindset while going through her own divorce, especially when the feeling of loneliness seemed unbearable.
Sonia Micciche is a divorce attorney and co-founder of Divorceify, an online divorce navigation platform.
Sonia Micciche is a divorce attorney and co-founder of Divorceify, an online divorce navigation platform.Courtesy of Sonia Micciche.

So, you are finally divorced and feeling some relief - then comes the dreaded holiday season. Ugh! Images of everyone spending time with their families and significant others flood your brain and suddenly the feeling of loneliness is overwhelming and unbearable.

If it’s your first holiday alone after divorce, you may find yourself thinking, “maybe I can just hibernate for the next month or two – disappear and come back once the holidays are over.” But from my understanding, no one has figured out a way to pull off a disappearing act without triggering a search party. So, let’s face it – while you cannot skip the holidays (and yes, your first holiday post-divorce will feel challenging) – you can adjust your mindset and perhaps have an enjoyable experience.

These four tips helped me through my first post-divorce holiday, and hopefully will help you with yours.

Practice gratitude

After a divorce, we tend to spend so much time focusing on all of the things we have lost. The extended family we may not see anymore, the traditions we shared with our ex-spouse, and how alone we feel. During my first holiday post-divorce, I pushed these feelings aside to focus on expressing gratitude for the things I had gained.

For one thing, I had survived my divorce. It was over. I gave myself a moment to recognize the strength it took to get through my divorce and the gratitude I felt that I could now see it in my rearview mirror. I also took stock of the people in my life. These people had cared for me while I was in pain, seen me at my worst and they were still here - for that I was deeply grateful.

Force yourself to identify the things that you are grateful to have in your life. Give yourself a moment to recognize how far you have come. Look around you and notice the people who are surrounding you with love and friendship. Be in the moment and make a new memory with them. Taking time for gratitude is soul nurturing and healing.

Create new traditions

It is important to create new holiday traditions after divorce. On my first post-divorce holiday I broke the mold and invited my parents to leave chilly New England and travel to a warmer climate with me. And guess what? We had a great time. Remind yourself that your changing family dynamic is an opportunity to create new traditions you enjoy. But don’t shy away from maintaining some of the traditions you shared with your spouse if you want to keep them; consistency can feel good during a time of intense change.

RELATED: How this divorce lawyer navigated her own divorce (and why it wasn't easy)

Acknowledge your feelings

Even with these strategies in hand, I could not pretend my first holiday post-divorce was pain-free — you shouldn’t pressure yourself to pretend either. Instead, be honest with yourself and acknowledge your feelings. They are real and you are allowed to have them. Just don’t let them become your focus. Once you have acknowledged them, shift your internal dialogue and put your energy into noticing the positive things in your life.

Don’t be afraid to indulge

It’s OK to treat yourself during this time, whether it’s buying something nice just for you, or overindulging in food more than you typically would.

For me, the divorce diet was a real thing. When I was going through my divorce, eating was the last thing on my mind, and when I did eat, I found myself thinking how bland and disgusting everything tasted. Chewing just seemed like too much work. But if the holiday calls for unleashing your inner hunger gremlin, do it. Trust me, your body and brain will thank you. They have been depleted for a while and may need this overindulgence.

If you need a little help focusing your energy and thoughts on gratitude this holiday season, try just taking a deep breath and releasing it. Remember, the holidays this year are going to be hard because they are your first ones post-divorce AND during a global pandemic, I promise you next year will feel different. Each holiday season will feel better and it will be a touch easier. Remember, baby steps.

Sonia Micciche is a divorce attorney and co-founder of Divorceify, an online divorce navigation platform