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Holidays After A Breakup

December 2, 2010
Christmas tree with lights

Photo courtesy of pshab

I’m staring at a brand new Christmas tree in a box and I can’t bring myself to put it up. It sits by my door, in its box straight from Wal-Mart, and I don’t feel like even touching it. I’m not looking forward to taking my new ornaments out of their carefully packed boxes and hanging them on the branches. I have no desire to place the star on top of the tree or plug it in to see the twinkling lights.

This holiday season feels strange, like I’m going through the motions, but I’m not entirely here. I didn’t think that the holidays would make me miss my old life and my ex fiancée as much as they have, but I’ve been struggling the last few weeks (which may explain why I haven’t been posting as often on the blog). I can’t stop remembering Thanksgivings with my ex and his family, or about all the traditions we shared together. I miss putting the tree up with him, purchasing a new ornament together each year, shopping for Christmas presents for him. I’m almost ashamed to admit that I miss him. Not just us together or my old life, but him.

Chef came over the night before Thanksgiving and participated in my family’s yearly tradition of making stuffing together. And by making stuffing together, I mean making stuffing together, and then eating ridiculous amounts of stuffing straight from the pan. By the end of the night, we’ve probably eaten a third of all the stuffing we’ve made. It’s one of my favorite parts of the holidays. Chef seemed to fit right in, and after I warned him not to lecture us on all the health codes we were breaking as we cooked (and ate), he happily helped by chopping onions, and even ate some stuffing himself (although he used a spoon to grab his stuffing from the bowl. Amateur. It tastes way better when you eat it with your hands).

Then, Chef and my step dad played some games on Wii. If you’ve ever played Wii before, you’ll know that you have to create an avatar or character for yourself. You can choose from different body types, hairstyles, eye colors, etc. As Chef went to create his avatar, we saw him flip through all the other ones that had previously been created. Let me tell you, it was like a boyfriend graveyard in my parent’s Wii. There, clear as day, was my ex’s avatar, my sisters ex’s (more than one of them); it was mildly humorous. In some ways, though, it served as yet another reminder of all that has changed from last year.

I am so thankful for my family who somehow just knew how I was feeling on Thanksgiving Day. My sister warmed my heart when she didn’t question my tearful request that she sit with me, and sit on the opposite side of the table than I usually sit. See, for some reason, I didn’t want to sit in my old seat. I didn’t want to sit next to my ex’s old seat. I wanted an entirely different view, a different perspective on my Thanksgiving dinner. My parents also were great, especially when they didn’t give me a hard time when, after dinner, I lay down for a bit in an empty room. The emotions of the day were just a little too much for me at the moment, and I needed some time alone.

I don’t mean to make it sound like I had a bad Thanksgiving. I am so fortunate to have enjoyed a delicious meal and enjoyable day with my wonderful family. But it felt like something was missing the whole day. My traditions of seven years were what was missing, and my ex was missing, too.

When I moved out of my ex’s house months and months ago, I didn’t even think about taking any Christmas-related items with me. So, my ex has all my favorite ornaments and the Christmas tree. When I asked him if I could get some of the ornaments back, those that I’d spent years collecting for myself, he said he wouldn’t be putting the tree up this year, because he had always only done that for me. He told me that he didn’t feel like digging all the Christmas stuff out for me to get a few ornaments. While I am a little annoyed that he is holding my ornaments hostage, it’s probably better if I start fresh anyway.  

For me, not having a Christmas tree this year is simply not an option. Having a tree in my home to look at every day has always been an important part of the holidays for me. No breakup is going to take that away from me. So, I decided to start completely from scratch.  

ornament on a Christmas tree

Photo courtesy of fensterbme

Chef went with me to buy myself a new tree, new ornaments and a whole new Christmas. I agonized over every decision, to where I’m sure he was ready to pull his hair out. What color scheme should my tree be? Should I get a star or an angel? Pre lit tree or not? Is this too girly? Well, I am a girl, so I guess the tree should be girly, right? I think the reason I struggled so much was because I couldn’t get past the tree that I’d had in the past – that’s the tree I wanted back. But you can’t buy what I wanted in stores.

The overwhelming feeling I have right now is, “When in the HELL am I going to be over this?” I’m embarrassed that it’s been … damn, I don’t even want to say how long it’s been because it makes it even worse. It’s been since April, and I still struggle some days. Like yesterday when my ex fiancée stopped by my apartment to drop off some contacts that my optometrist accidentally sent to his house.

When he knocked at the door, I could feel my heart race with nervousness. I hadn’t seen him since August. I opened the door, and he hovered in the doorway. I invited him in. I went to hug him, and it was like we were still together all of a sudden. I wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing, just acting out of habit, and I hugged him tightly, reaching beneath his jacket and wrapping my arms around him. It felt all too intimate, as though we were still together. As though nothing had changed. I heard him audibly sigh. I remembered why I used to always say that he gave the very best hugs.

At some point in the conversation, I accidentally told him I loved him. I know you are thinking, “How does one accidentally tell someone you love them?” I don’t know, it just slipped out. Seven years of saying “I love you” cannot be taken away by seven months of not saying it.

I commented on how much weight he’s lost (I’m worried he hasn’t been taking care of himself) and he commented on how long my hair has gotten. We made small talk about my Christmas tree in the box on the floor, the traffic, how I was enjoying the apartment. And then just as soon as he was here, he was gone.

And I miss him. I don’t miss him every day. I don’t miss him the way I missed him months ago. But I still miss him and I’m still struggling to get over it all. And I can’t get past the frustration that I’m still not over it. And feel free to replace “it” with “him” because I’m not strong enough to admit that. Not in writing, anyway.

This all makes me feel terribly guilty, because I am in love with Chef. But I haven’t been able to give him all of me, and I’m not sure when I will. He talks about spending forever with me, and how he aspires to be someone I’ll want to spend my life with. He jokes about us having children together and tells me that I’ve changed his life (for the better). He says he’s never loved anyone as much as he loves me. And to all these wonderful words, and to this wonderful man, I can’t say the same things back. In time, maybe I will be able to, but for now, I’m just not there.

Don’t worry – I won’t wallow for too long. I’m going to see a holiday light show with my parents this weekend, and my goal is by the next time I write a blog post, I’ll be able to include a picture of my beautifully decorated tree. It’ll be a girly tree, with all my favorite colors and only items that I love on it.

In the meantime, I’m going to go eat my last turkey sandwich with a side of stuffing. Because not even a breakup can take the joy of Thanksgiving leftovers from me.  

Readers, what tips do you have for surviving the holidays after a breakup? I know I’m not the only one out there struggling this year.

86 Comments leave one →
  1. duke1959 permalink
    December 2, 2010 8:37 am

    Its tough for many during the holidays. Just hang in there. One year my wife and I didn’t put up any Christmas decorations and it was a big mistake.

    • December 5, 2010 8:57 pm

      Thanks for your comment. I hear you – I think not putting anything up would be a mistake. Appreciate the advice.

  2. December 2, 2010 8:59 am

    Don’t do everything different. Sometimes you need things the same to realize it IS different. You and Chef need to find a new seasonal activity. You will get through this too.

    • December 3, 2010 5:55 pm

      I agree. Even just not being around a person you care for during the holidays kind of throw you off your game.

      • December 5, 2010 8:59 pm

        Posky: Thanks for your comment. The good news is it’s just one more month of the holidays, and then life will go back to normal – whatever that is 🙂

    • December 5, 2010 8:59 pm

      The Edmonton Tourist:
      Thanks for your comments and advice. I think you’re right – if I try to do everything different, I think I would lose a lot.

  3. December 2, 2010 9:08 am

    Seeing an ex can be difficult. Next time have him mail you the contacts.

    Maybe start some new holiday tradiations with your family, with Chef, and by yourself.

    • December 5, 2010 9:00 pm

      thoughtsappear: You are so right. Mail is definitely the route I’ll go next time. Too hard.

  4. Kelly permalink
    December 2, 2010 9:57 am

    Holidays in general are hard but to have your first holiday without your ex is gonna be the hardest, let me reassure you they only get easier from here. I agree start some new traditions but you need to keep some of the old ones, ones that you loved and hopefully chef will bring some new traditions of his own in with yours and a new line will start. He seemed like a great guy and I am sure things will begin to look up for you, although I can honestly say your first true love will always have a small place in your heart be it 8 months or 8 years later (or for me 23 years later). I hope that your holidays begin to fill up with the things that you hold dear; keep up the great posts.

    • December 5, 2010 9:01 pm

      Kelly: Thanks so much for your comment and your support. I agree that this year will probably be the hardest… I look forward to next year. I imagine myself in such a better place.

  5. December 2, 2010 10:15 am

    I’m in a similar position – my six-year relationship ended in May. I haven’t managed to move on as quickly as I’d hoped either. Part of me would be tempted to erase the memories which keeping replaying, if I could, but I suppose they’re part of who I am now. I guess sometimes there’s no substitute for the healing powers of time, although of course having loving family and friends around is a great help, and Chef does sound more and more like a great guy (I’m sorry about one or two less-than-complimentary comments I made about him in the early days!)

    • December 5, 2010 9:03 pm

      Matt: It’s so hard when you have your own timeline of how fast you want to recover from something like this, and when you don’t meet that self imposed timeline, it feels like a failure. No worries about your early comments about Chef – he is a really great guy. I feel lucky that I met him. Although, I’m frustrated that I feel like I’m not ready for him, you know?
      Good luck getting through the holidays – I appreciate your kind words and support and know that I’m sending positive thoughts your way!

  6. 2 New Beginnings permalink
    December 2, 2010 10:22 am

    First loves are the hardest to get over especially when you planned to have a life with them. I mean really planned, like having children, getting married, house hunting, etc. I don’t think you ever get over your first love, I know I never did. You just learn to move on. You will learn to move on and you will go on with your life. You will make new memories and will experience a new life with someone else. Maybe Chef will be apart of that new life, maybe he won’t. Since you like quotes, here is one of my favorites and I think it’s very fitting.
    Sometimes we need to stop analyzing the past, stop planning the future, stop trying to figure out precisely how we feel, stop deciding with our mind how we should feel, sometimes we just have to go with….whatever happens,happens…

    So during the holidays, just let go and feel. Don’t be ashamed of your feelings, because they are YOUR feelings. Don’t apologize for YOUR feelings. Once you sort through all of those feelings with the ex, you will be able to completely open up your heart again and will give your all to that special person. Good luck and Happy Holidays!

    • December 5, 2010 9:07 pm

      2 New Beginnings: It’s somehow relieving to hear that other people have never gotten over their first love. Makes me feel a little bit less like a failure in my journey to get over this. I loved this quote you shared, thank you. I’m such an overthinker and this quote reminds me that I don’t always need to be like that. It’s hard though when that is just my nature. I also think you are right about just feeling what I feel – I think I never did that as much as I should have. When I get sad, I immediately keep myself busy. I’m not sure that’s the best strategy and am trying to allow myself to feel it a little more, so I can move forward.
      Happy holidays to you too – I appreciate your support more than I can say.

  7. duke1959 permalink
    December 2, 2010 10:26 am

    After raeding your blog today it gave me something to comment on. Maybe this will help.

  8. December 2, 2010 11:00 am

    I was also once upon a time in a long relationship. We had the whole wedding planned and ready to happen when he decided to end it. That was 8 years ago. Every now and then I think of him and something I want to share with him. Some thing will happpen I think “OH, he would love this, he would think this is so funny.”
    he was such a huge part of my life, my families life, it is really hard to forget all that history. You need to make time to mourn the loss of the old life and feelings.
    My thoughts of him are now fond (he really is a terrific guy), but it took time. The first year, holidays were the worst, but I promise it will get better. Keep the traditions you like and start new ones with your new love.
    I have been happily married to a wonderful man & have a sweet baby boy now and realize in retropsect, it was the best decision my ex ever made (even though it broke my heart at the time).
    Good luck! and have a wonderful holiday with Chef.

    • December 5, 2010 9:11 pm

      Ruth: Wow, thank you for sharing. It’s so good to hear from someone who has been through something similar. I find it crazy that you still think of him sometimes and want to share things with him – I feel the same way, and it’s a little hard to imagine I’ll still feel that way 8 years from now. But, maybe it won’t be in a sad way anymore then, and I could live with that.
      I appreciate your supportive words. I hope you have a wonderful holiday with your husband and new baby 🙂

  9. December 2, 2010 11:59 am

    My first holiday after the divorce, I made sure to keep up with the traditions I’d had with my ex – just alone (or in my case, with the kids). The same annual dinner at a German restaurant, the same yearly trek to the big Christmas light festival. It lent a sense of normalcy to an otherwise chaotic time. Then, gradually, I added new traditions to the mix, to celebrate my new life.

    • December 5, 2010 9:12 pm

      Thanks for sharing. I think you are right, it’s good to keep some of the old traditions to keep a sense of normalcy. I’m going to try that this year. And, I need to create some new ones – by myself. I’m feeling like I shouldn’t be so dependent on other people to make me happy during the holidays, you know? Or even year-round.

  10. Lost in France permalink
    December 2, 2010 12:03 pm

    I know where you are coming from. A 15 year realtionship, and although the last few years were mostly bad, this is the first christmas I will have in my own place.

    Was back at the house we shared getting the hristmas decorations down from the loft for the Ex, she offered me some of them, but I think I would rather start a fresh. Putting the tree up and ressing was always something we did as a family. We all had our different jobs, and it signified the start of Christmas for us.

    As many people on here have already said. This is the time to start new traditions, ones that involve you and chef.

    Good luck in that

    • December 5, 2010 9:14 pm

      Lost In France: Thanks for your comment and kind words. I hope that you will be able to have a happy holiday season as well – I can’t imagine what it’s like for you after a 15-year relationship. The holidays are such a difficult time; there is so much expectation and high hopes, and then if things go wrong (especially when things aren’t they always are) it can feel so much more serious than it is. I’m hoping to remind myself that this is just one year, and I’m sure I’ll have many more in the future that will feel wonderful and not hard at all.
      Happy holidays.

  11. Just Saying permalink
    December 2, 2010 12:05 pm

    I find Xmas hard for many reasons.
    I’ve put up my tree only a handful of times in the last 10 years. Mostly cos I’m not home for xmas.

    One year I was hosting xmas so I put up the tree, cried the whole time. When the holidays were over, I couldn’t be bothered to take it down. I took the tree, fully decorated and put it in the guest room, til the following September. lol

    I find it easier to survive the holidays if I’m able to spend it at someone else’s house. Enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labour.

    You’ll survive this season, along with the rest of us. DO not neglect yourself from feeling, whatever emotion may surface. It helps with future holidays.

    Merry Christmas.

    • December 5, 2010 9:18 pm

      Just Saying:
      LOL – thanks for sharing your story. I finally got the tree up, and I’m already dreading taking it down. My friend Dawn told me that I could just leave it up and decorate it for each season, LOL.
      I hear you on spending the holidays at someone else’s house where they can do all the work … that felt pretty good on Thanksgiving :).
      I appreciate your comment and I hope that you have a Merry Christmas too. We’ll survive… promise 🙂

  12. Nancy permalink
    December 2, 2010 1:48 pm

    No holiday is harder to get through after the loss of someone, for any reason, than Christmas. (And yes, the “hard part” does start with Thanksgiving.) I think mainly due to the fact that somewhere in our subconscious we have this film clip that shows the perfect Currier and Ives moment – the stockings all hung by the chimney with care, chestnuts roasting on an open fire…you get the idea. But the reality is, the perfect holiday does not exist. When someone has suffered through a breakup, I think the tendency is to elevate that dream image to even higher levels, making you feel even worse that you “don’t have that” anymore. You feel like a failure, and have that feeling that you’re all alone. It’s a horrible feeling, and yes, it does get better with time. So grab hold of the traditions that really mean something and try your hardest to let the rest go and make some new ones. Let it evolve and see where it takes you.

    • December 5, 2010 9:21 pm

      Nancy: You have put this so unbelievably well. I do have that filmstrip of all the good times, but I can’t remember the times when my ex fiancee downright pissed me off at the holidays. It’s funny how the brain does that. Your comment is a good reminder – nothing is perfect. It wasn’t perfect before, and I doubt it will be in the future either. It is hard this year, not going to lie. But I’m hoping that as time goes by, it’ll get easier and easier. I just have to keep reminding myself of all the things I have – my family, friends, a home, etc. I am very fortunate.
      Thanks so much for your words. You have helped me so much!

  13. Danielle permalink
    December 2, 2010 3:06 pm

    I loved your sincerity in this post! We are definitely in the same boat. I too have been struggling with “the holidays”. I had all the décor from my “old life” and it was hard putting up certain ornaments. It definitely made me miss my ex. I’m not sure how to get through the holiday season except one day at a time.

    • December 5, 2010 9:23 pm

      Danielle: Thanks for your comment. Part of me is happy that I do not have all those reminders sitting around, old ornaments, stockings, etc. But I do miss things that have significance fo rme. I think I’ve just come to the conclusion that this year will be hard. That’s all there is to it. But hopefully, I have many happy years ahead of me. And you do too. I’m sending good thoughts your way, I know you are probably going through a tough time this year as well. I appreciate your support as I go through this!

  14. Patrice Tanaka permalink
    December 2, 2010 3:15 pm

    Catherine, just when I think you can’t possibly top yourself, you come up with another amazing post! You are an amazingly wonderful writer and human being. Love, PT

    • December 5, 2010 9:24 pm

      Patrice: Aww, thank you. Your comments always warm my heart and I really appreciate your support. You are amazing as well – a true inspiration for me!

  15. japanesemiscellany permalink
    December 2, 2010 5:05 pm

    I did such a great job of banishing my X from memory it’s hard to recall. I’ve been trying to recall what i did that helped because my brother is going through the same thing this year. Lucky for me my X left the county after our breakup so i didn’t have to see him around. But my brother and his X are trying to be friends and we’ve been invited to a Christmas party at his X’s house….i just don’t know ….the friendship attempt and seeing his X seems to just cause him more pain then closure. I remember being melancholy the 1st Christmas after the breakup…I remember just keeping as busy as possible even as I marked off past events in my head…..this was the day we bought a tree last year…this was the gift I bought him last year. Ironically after all this time I found an old X-mas list from our last X-mas together and I was shocked how much I spent on him and his family. Pretty much I tell my brother not to think so much…because we are thinkers in my family and we’ll think ourselves sick. It’s hard as hell but sometimes we have to force ourselves to focus our thoughts and energies elsewhere

    • December 5, 2010 9:27 pm

      Japenese: I totally feel for your brother. I can’t imagine spending time regularly with my ex, it would just be too painful. I don’t think, personally, that “let’s just be friends” really works. Too hard, too many feelings. Someone is always affected by it, I think.
      I’m a thinker too – glad to hear I’m not the only one. I’ve been doing the same thing you mention here, marking off dates in my head. Not healthy, I know. I’m trying to stop and just focus on this year. Thanks for the reminder.
      Appreciate your comment and support!

  16. December 2, 2010 6:06 pm

    I am struggling with this as well. My wedding was supposed to be New Years Eve, so I am dreading this holiday season. I guess you just need to lean on your family, and remember that next year will be better!

    • December 5, 2010 9:29 pm

      TL: I’m sorry to hear you are struggling, and I just stopped by your blog and I can imagine it’s even harder for you with your unwedding day being New Years Eve. I know a small piece of what you are going through (I can’t say I know exactly) and I hope that you rely on your friends and family to get through this season (and your break up). Take care of yourself.

  17. natasha permalink
    December 2, 2010 7:19 pm

    So, I was forewarned this was a sad blog post… should have taken that warning to heart… now I’m sitting in class wanting to cry. Blah.
    I’ll sit next to you whenever you want, and as an added bonus, I’ll go shopping with you for a new cupcake ornament 🙂

    • Nancy permalink
      December 5, 2010 2:59 pm

      If I recall correctly, it needs to be a cupcake ornament with polka dots.

    • December 5, 2010 9:30 pm

      As always, sorry for making you want to cry. I know this time of year is probably hard for you too. Thanks for sitting next to me and I’ll definitely go shopping with you for a new cupcake ornament. Name the time and place!!

  18. Mom permalink
    December 2, 2010 7:36 pm

    Absolutely beautiful but at the same time heart wrenching. It’s amazing how you can put your thoughts and innermost feelings in written word. How I wish I could take your pain away.I love you Mom

    • December 5, 2010 9:31 pm

      Mom: Thank you very much. You have done so much for me, and while you can’t take the pain away, you have helped me so much. I can’t even put it in words. I love you 🙂

  19. Randy permalink
    December 2, 2010 8:18 pm

    Great post. Things will be different this holiday season for more than a few people. I wish you and the family a great Christmas and good New Years.

    • December 5, 2010 9:32 pm

      Randy: Thank you. I know this season may be hard for you too. I hope you have a good holiday, and your kids as well. Take care of yourself. Appreciate your reading and commenting.

  20. December 2, 2010 8:44 pm

    I read this and of course, the tears came. I know what you are going through. It IS hard. I can’t even say anything clever to make you feel better. But do know that time will take alot of the missing part away, and fill it with something wonderful. (((hugs)))

    • December 5, 2010 9:33 pm

      SimplyStac: “Time will take alot of the missing part away, and fill it with something wonderful.” That’s so beautiful. Thank you so much – your support and kind words help me get through these times. Happy Holidays!

  21. Teya:) permalink
    December 2, 2010 9:11 pm

    Another awesome post Cat. You got me in tears over here. I cant say that I know exactly how you feel..but in a sense you are still grieving a loss…kinda like with me and the loss of my mother..(totally different situation but still a loss)…..Holidays are rough when you dont have that one that you have grown to associate with the love and joy of the holidays however you must learn to move on…Dont expect yourself not to get sad and miss what use to be…cherish those good times….incorporate them into who you have become…and continue your journey towards new traditions….your past will always be a part of your future because they are apart of what makes you who you are….Love you girlie:)

    • December 5, 2010 9:36 pm

      Teya: Thank you for your comment and for your friendship, now and always. I know you understand, especially with all you’ve been through with losing your mom. I can’t imagine your pain, and you are so strong (I don’t know if you even know how strong you are). I know the holidays are hard for you too. We just have to be here for each other and we’ll make it through. I’m here if you ever need me, and I feel very lucky that you have always been here for me.
      Love you!!

  22. December 2, 2010 9:18 pm

    How about a different tack…relish in the sadness? We’ve all been there in some way so I say this with experience. When I am sad over a loss, I acknowledge it, make a cup of tea, sit on the couch (or lay down), and give myself a time limit – up to one hour max. Then I sit there and think all the sad thoughts, let tears come if they must, talk out loud to myself about what I am missing, and then…when time is up, I stand up, physically give myself a shake and talking out loud again, say “okay, time to move on”. And then go do something that is part of your future life.

    It really works.

    And get that tree up would you? We want to see a picture when you are done.

    • December 5, 2010 9:37 pm

      workingtechmom: This is great advice. I’ve never thought this. I may have to give it a try. I like the thought of giving myself the time and then physically shaking it off. Thanks for your comment and your support 🙂
      PS: Tree is up. Post to come. Wasn’t easy, but it’s up!!

  23. December 2, 2010 9:24 pm

    I agree with Teya, you definitely need to try and start new traditions but also don’t let old ones go that you love to do just because you aren’t with your ex anymore, maybe just modify them so they are specified to all of your likes and wants and have no part of him involved in them. I’m sure it’s just hard this year because you were with him last year, next year your memory of last year will be different so I’m sure it will be much easier.

    • December 5, 2010 9:39 pm

      Thanks so much. I think you are right, next year will be much easier. And this year is easier than I think it would have been, because I have this blog and this outlet to share. And all my friends on this blog. You guys help me so much.
      Hope you are doing well this holiday season!

  24. Kevin permalink
    December 2, 2010 10:12 pm

    I know this time of year might be hard but always remember you always have your family that loves you and you will have love in your life because you deserve to be happy and be with someone who will love you, also keep in mind that memories and traditions are only made when you create them.

    • December 5, 2010 9:41 pm

      Kevin: Thank you so much for your comment. I am very lucky to have you all – you are a wonderful family. Not everyone is as blessed as I am. I’m so excited about the new traditions we’ve already started to create as a family, like this weekend’s trip. I’m not sure we would have had these experiences if my break up hadn’t happened. I’m so lucky. Love you!

  25. December 2, 2010 10:55 pm

    Oh Catherine, I know exactly what you mean by this part: “The overwhelming feeling I have right now is, ‘When in the HELL am I going to be over this?’ I’m embarrassed that it’s been … damn, I don’t even want to say how long it’s been because it makes it even worse.” I broke up with my boy in March, after a little over a year. I’m still not over it. Some days I am, but Thanksgiving was hard because he came to MN for Thanksgiving last year.

    I have another quote for you! This is one I’ve been thinking about lately:

    “But in any situation with long love, I don’t think it ever really goes away fully. You just sort of learn where to keep it.” –Justin Vernon, the man behind the band Bon Iver.

    That’s what we’re working on: learning where to keep our love. It’s not going away, it was so special and powerful and defining, but it can’t be as primary as it used to be.

    I don’t know about making this better during the holidays, though. I think just knowing it will be hard and not trying to pretend everything is perfect is important. There really is no rush to be over your ex, even though it is irritating not to be.

    And of course, I cried. Again. You’re good, lady. You’re good. Your family sounds so wonderful, I’m glad they’re so understanding.

    My heart goes out to you. Set up that tree & show it off already! 🙂


    • December 5, 2010 9:45 pm

      Thanks so much for this comment. And, you are the quote queen. This quote was perfect. I just need to learn where to keep my love … that makes perfect sense. I’m glad to know there is someone else out there who is struggling with getting over a past love and life. It’s just so damn frustrating. I’m so used to being able to control and plan the things in my life…. but I guess some things can’t be controlled.
      Take care this holiday, I hope that your pain subsides too and you are able to move on. It’s harder than we think, sometimes.
      On another note, tree is finally up – post to come soon! 🙂

  26. Steph permalink
    December 3, 2010 12:18 am

    I’m in the same boat, and am really struggling also. You aren’t alone.

    • December 5, 2010 9:46 pm

      While it’s good to know I’m not alone, I’m sorry you are struggling. Take care of yourself. Just know that the holidays are a definite time period – they will pass, and we’ll have a whole new year to tackle. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  27. December 3, 2010 9:54 am

    I understand. But put up the tree, Catherine. You have a whole new year before you. Who knows what kind of happiness is waiting.

    • December 5, 2010 9:47 pm

      Thank you, Maura. I appreciate your push 🙂 Between you and a few people at work who read the blog (but don’t usually comment), the resounding advice was: Put the damn tree up, Catherine!! haha. The tree is up. Post to come soon. Happy Holidays to you and your family, thanks for your support 🙂

  28. December 3, 2010 11:51 am

    I realize there is a chorus of support here, so I want to add my voice to it: I can so completely relate, and what you’re feeling is as “normal” as what any of us feels, post breakup.

    Catherine, it has ONLY been since APRIL! I was at dinner with the girls last night, and the consensus was that it takes 50% of the duration of the relationship to feel “healed” from it.

    That means I have about 5 years to go. And you still have a while as well. Ugh.

    Rely on that support that is surrounding you, embrace Chef and his willingness to work with you, and feel free to…feel. You’re only human, and this just shows the depth of your love and commitment.

    Happy holidays to you and yours. Now get that damn girly tree up. Stat. 😉

    • December 5, 2010 9:51 pm

      I really appreciate your comment. Wow, if it really takes 50 percent of the duration of the relationship to get over it, then I’ve got some time ahead of me :(. You are right, I beat myself up, but it has only been since April. I just had this timeline in my head and I really thought I’d be past this by now. While I’m frustrated with myself, that’s not getting me anywhere.
      I hope you have a good holiday too… I know this must be hard for you as well. But I feel so fortunate to have your support and the support of all my other readers. Makes me feel less alone. Take care of yourself this holiday – I think you are so strong and brave!

  29. December 3, 2010 2:57 pm

    Take as much time as you need, something I learnt recently is that there’s no rules, no time frame for getting over someone, sometimes it’s a short process and sometimes it’s a long one, it usually doesn’t have any relativity to the length of the relationship, so just take everything as it comes and one day you’ll wake up and start to feel like you’re getting there.
    Lots of love!

    • December 3, 2010 3:00 pm

      PS: My theory is more relativity to the intensity, hopes, dreams and aspirations of the relationship.
      Love Relationship Einstein. 😉

    • December 5, 2010 9:53 pm

      Caity: Thanks for your comment and support. Love your relationship relativity theory :). You are right, as much as I want rules and guidelines to get me through this, it seems there just aren’t. So… back to one day at a time. Happy holidays to you!

  30. December 3, 2010 6:44 pm

    Dear Catherine,

    Thank you for sharing this; your eloquence is beautiful; however, it is the candidacy of your expression that is most striking; this piece really moved me and made me really feel for you.

    It is simple acts and events that are the most meaningful, and for all our worldly hubris it is simple things that ground us, remind us, like touchstones, of who and what we are, especially the rituals that we establish in life.

    I feel that there are a number of aspects to how you are feeling at the moment, all of which mark you as a person who cares deeply and that are to be celebrated in their own way.

    You are grieving, grieving for the loss of a loved one in your life and for the loss of a relationship, which are related, intertwined, yet not the same. Also you are grieving for the loss of who you were, for who you are now is most certainly not who you were six months ago. You have been forced to change, and
    shedding skins is painful.

    That you grieve still is only natural; six months is no time at all when you have truly opened up to someone, and especially when you have spent such a significant percentage of your adult life with them.

    Don’t beat on yourself for how you feel or feel guilty; this is natural, healthy and a sure sign that you if no one else truly invested of yourself in your past relationship. If it helps I still grieve to a greater or lesser extent all of my real relationships to some extent, acknowledging in some way a loss, lost opportunity, hopes unfulfilled. Yet that I do so does not mean that I want to or would turn the clock back (my post “And now it’s over …” refers); it simply means that I cared and care still for that person and for our relationship, the time we shared together, which is neither incompatible or detrimental to any relationship I may currently be in.

    Celebrate where you have been and celebrate were you are, who you are with now.


    • December 5, 2010 10:06 pm

      Your comment is beautiful and so well put. I really get the sense that you know where I’m coming from, and your comments always have an odd way of reassuring me. You are so right, I don’t entirely feel like the same person I was just several months ago. And it’s hard, especially when I didn’t choose to be this new person – it just sort of happened out of necessity.

      What you said about my grief being a “natural, healthy and a sure sign that you if no else truly invested yourself in your past relationship” is so true. I gave everything I had – literally everything – to that relationship. That’s why it made me feel so lost when it was over. I don’t think I’ll ever put EVERYTHING into a relationship again… I’m going to reserve some for just me.

      It does help to hear that you still grieve some of your past relationships… I don’t know what’s “normal” or to be expeccted, and I don’t have a sense of what most people feel after a significant break up. Sadly, all I know of other’s experiences are what I see in movies and on TV (and that’s not reality, obviously). I’m ashamed to admit that I never really delved into these topics, or really explored them with my friends when they went through a loss. I just figured they’d let me know if they needed something. I never truly tried to understand what they were going through. I’ve definitely changed in that respect and am so much trying to be open to learning what it is to go through a loss, of any kind. And I think I’m a better friend for it.

      Thanks again for your comment. I really appreciate your support.

  31. December 3, 2010 8:07 pm

    Hey all, I just wanted to write a quick comment to tell you that I appreciate your support and encouragement more than you can know. Your words gave me the push I needed to put the tree up last night. I have a blog post about it coming up Monday! I’ll respond to each of your comments over the weekend, but I wanted to say a huge thanks. I am so lucky to have such wonderful readers!

  32. December 5, 2010 9:53 pm

    I think the holidays are hard for most singletons, but we can make it. One thing I’m still learning from my breakup is how to make myself happy without a man.

    Since I moved away from home, I’ve made it a personal tradition of mine to take myself to breakfast on Christmas Eve. I go alone, without a book, no laptop. I just eat a huge meal, and leave a nice tip for my waiter. It’s a nice moment to myself before the real bustle begins. I even did it last year when I had a boyfriend!

    This year, consider treating yourself a little, you deserve it. Get a nice massage, or mani-pedi. Decide what is going to make you the happiest this season and it sounds like Chef and your family will do whatever they can to make it happen.



    • December 5, 2010 10:09 pm

      Thanks for your comment. How to make yourself happy without a man… that’s a tough code to crack. It shouldn’t be, obviously, but it can be when you have had a man in your life for so many years contributing to your happiness. Sometimes, you forget how to keep yourself happy (when you haven’t had to for so long).

      I love your Christmas Eve tradition. That sounds so wonderful and so … fitting. I’m not sure what the right word is. I’m hoping to find a similar such tradition for myself this year.

      Take care of yourself and Happy Holidays!

  33. BeneathTheSpinLight permalink
    December 6, 2010 2:06 am

    I’m feeling this post on so many different levels right now.
    You shouldn’t feel bad for not being over your ex, especially since it ended in April and it’s only December! You’re way ahead of the curve. 12 months have passed and sometimes I’m not sure if I’m entirely okay.
    It’s time to start new traditions for the holidays! You’ve had a really great start by exploring Halloween and switching up where you sat during Thanksgiving dinner. It’s time to get creative with Christmas. Maybe you could start an ornament contest for your tree so you’ll have a bunch of awesome handmade ornaments from everyone you love.

    • December 7, 2010 11:20 pm

      Beneath: It provides me comfort that you know what I’m going through. Hmmm and ornament contest. That’s a good idea. And thanks for the reminder on switching things up. I did do that Halloween (had somehow forgotten until you said something) and I’m happy I switched spots on Thanksgiving. I’m going to start thinking of another tradition to start for myself this Christmas.
      Thanks for your comment and support!

  34. ACommenttoMake permalink
    January 5, 2011 7:09 pm

    I have just started reading the blog as per a friend’s request. Both of us broke of our engagements. If I hadn’t been in a public location reading this, I would have burst into tears. (since the breakup Ive gotten used to holding the tears back long enough). I, too, wonder when the holidays will get better…even with a significant significant other it’s hard. There are no words to express how it feels, but I feel like you do an adequate job.

    It gets better….because WE will get better. But like my dear boyfriend says: You’re human, and sometimes, it’s going to hurt (even if you dont want it to). Encouraging, I know. But it’s so true. It’s ok to hurt (even if the entire time you’re hurting, you wish it would stop). To quote (or misquote CS LEWIS) “The sorrow now, is part of the happiness then, that’s the deal.”

    Im continuing to read, and wishing you joy on your journey.

    • January 6, 2011 10:17 am

      Hello there,
      Thanks so much for reading and commenting! I’m sorry to hear about your broken engagement. I know what you mean about having a hard time even if you have a significant other… I felt a little bit of this this year because I was still somewhat seeing Chef during the holidays, so while that aleviated some of the sadness, it still was very hard. I can’t wait for the day that this time seems like forever ago and I’m all well-adjusted and happy. Hopefully that time will come for both of us! I love the quote you shared, thank you. I think it’s totally right… although sometimes a hard pill to take.
      Take care of yourself and Happy New Year!

  35. Eli permalink
    November 20, 2011 6:09 pm

    Thank you for wording the empty space that an ex leaves during the Holidays so well. My ex fiance has been gone for two Christmas’ and now that I’m quickly approaching the third with the knowledge that he has found someone else, my boxed tree is also sitting on the floor. I want to be as strong as you when it comes to re-claiming Christmas however, I still miss him very much and I too lost all of the ornaments that we bought together, that I had collected before him and the ones his Mother gave us over the years.

    I tried working in a soup kitchen one year to remind me of the true meaning and spirit of the Holidays and it only made me raw with depression by the time I finished and made my way back to the empty apartment. An Alfred Hitchcock marathon helped the first year and complete avoidance proved to be a diversion the second year but was too much work.

    I envy the love that you have from Chef. I have yet to get back out there or move on or whatever other carelessly worded encouragement that has been suggested with real feeling and pure intentions but which still feels as impossible as convincing myself that Santa Claus is real.

    Regardless of this, it’s heart warming to know that someone else is asking these questions. I only wish that neither of us belonged to this group but appreciate the encouragement.

    Take Care

    • November 26, 2011 9:08 pm

      Thank you for sharing your story here. It sounds like you’ve been going through a really tough time, I’m sorry about that. Only you will know when are you ready to move on, and I think it’s smart that you’ve given yourself time. You know, it might help you to talk with a counselor as well. That really helped me find some perspective and move on. I’m not saying that I’m 100% moved on, but I’m feeling much better than the earlier days. Every day… every week… every month without crying over him is progress. You just gotta take it in steps.

      As far as the holidays, what got me through is not just overcoming doing some things alone, but embracing new traditions. Because they were new, I couldn’t think back about how fun it was when he was there. These were my traditions. They brought me joy and independence from him. Perhaps that will help you too?

      I’m thinking about you this holiday season – it’s not easy, but you sound like a strong person and I know you’ll get through. Take care. Catherine

  36. shawn permalink
    December 24, 2011 7:37 pm

    This is difficult for me as well, this is the first year without my ex as well and we broke up in late august. We had no contact and a few days ago, while I was still in the grieving process, she emailed me and (to give herself closure?) said it has to be goodbye and we reached the end of our road. Though it was difficult to deal with the past few months, now I feel much worse not only being contacted by her but getting the official break-up and goodbyes we never had back in August. I loved this girl with all of my heart. Words can barely describe how I felt, she was everything to me and I never felt for anyone the way I felt for her. I would have married her without second thoughts and unfortunately I still would. She introduced me to a new life and feelings I never felt before and I still don’t understand why we broke up. Its a long, painful story and I consider her the love of my life and don’t think I will ever find anyone like her again. I am 32, I never had much luck in relationships as I never felt such a strong connection as I did with my recent ex. I felt like I had found my soul mate, we got along so great and just seeing her number on the caller ID, hearing her voice, everything just filled me with joy and filled that empty hole in my heart that has been there the entire time. I always felt there was a part of me missing and I never knew true happiness until I met her. I am left a sad, broken man and I don’t know how to move on with my life. I lost interest in everything and its not getting any easier. I don’t want to date again, I fear I will never find anyone like her, as I haven’t found anyone remotely close to as great as she was or feeling the connection we had. The holidays are horrible. I miss playing Playstation 3 with her, spending time talking to her, laughing, listening to music, watching movies and YouTube videos and having a great time together. Every moment was like bliss and now it’s all gone. I feel my life truly is over and there’s nothing left but sadness and despair. I honestly don’t care if I died, I found the love of my life, I lost her and I have nothing left to live for. I hope you are able to get through this and don’t feel the way I do. Cry if you must, as I cry often and hope that things get better for you.

    • December 29, 2011 11:37 pm

      I’m sorry for all you are going through. It sounds like you are having a rough time and so much of me wishes I could reach through the computer and give you a big hug. I’m wondering if you might consider talking to someone – a professional – about your sadness. They may have some tools to help you move on.
      So many of the emotions you are describing I felt too, and I don’t know if you’ll find comfort in this, but what made me feel better was reminding myself that if it were meant to be, it would be. If this person was my soul mate, we’d be together. We aren’t because I need to learn some lesson from this. We aren’t together because I need to be open to find the right person. It’s hard to see at first, but part of me just had to let go of the sadness and the doubts of finding love in the future in order to move on. Maybe it is the same for you. And the bright side of your relationship with this woman is that she showed you the love of which you are capable. You know the joy of true love. Now you will just need to find it again. But at least you know what you are looking for an know it exists. I know there is someone else out there for you. Take care of yourself.

  37. Andre permalink
    December 25, 2012 12:59 pm

    Catherine, I found your blog because I was having Christmas Day blues last night and trusty google brought me to you. My ex of almost years and I broke up at the end of July because of communication problems. I never told her how much I really loved and appreciated her and because she felt she couldn’t talk to me, she never told me how alone she felt and broke up with me. I still have hopes of us getting back together but she is seeing someone now, although i must admit, i feel it is a rebound because they started dating 3 weeks after we broke up. so she had no time to grow and to heal. Even with her dating someone new, over the last several months we talked about trying but things just seem to drag on. She’s very afraid that things will remain the same, so she’s back and forth. We even went out on about 4 or 5 dates and had a great time. After the break up I understood my role in things and owned up to them. I’ve made many changes to my life and have improved! Even after one of our “dates” she told me I’m different, I’ve changed some. But I guess not enough…

    Anyway, about 2 weeks ago, I proposed to her and truthfully, I thought she would say no flat out but wanted her to know the level of commitment i have and how serious i am. And to my surprise, when I popped the question, she had a shocked smile on her face, then covered her mouth and started to say “I’m crazy, I’m crazy” I said no, I just love you more than anything. Well she then said “I’ve wanted this for so long, for so long. It’s not fair, it’s not fair, I do this now when she is seeing someone, what am I suppose to do about him?”

    I took that as a positive because it seems like she wanted to say yes but she doesn’t want to hurt the new guy. Anyway, your blog has given me some insight into what she may be feeling and I hope she comes back and says yes to my proposal! Thank you so much for sharing your feelings and you’re right, if things are meant to be, they will be.

    • Andre permalink
      December 25, 2012 1:01 pm

      We were together almost 7 years and have known each other 14 years!

  38. Kelly W. permalink
    December 11, 2015 1:45 am

    Thanks for posting this. It makes me feel better to know that other women have gone through what I have gone through. My ex was in the military & he served two tours in Iraq. Once he was state side, he came to see me. I could not believe that this man loved me as much as I loved him. I felt like I was walking on air. We spent the Holidays together in 2012. I met his brother who was such a nice & smart man. I remember his brother gave me a big hug one night & he said, “Welcome to the family.” My walls came crashing down when I discovered that this man I loved more than anything had several other women on the side. The Holidays are especially hard now because I always think of him even though he broke my heart. The man that I loved married another girl that I had discovered after he started acting strange. I keep telling myself that someone new will come along, but so far, no new men have compared to him. He hurt me so badly yet every time I see a silver jeep or a man with dark hair who looks like him, my heart always skips a beat.

  39. Carrie baker permalink
    November 24, 2016 4:17 pm

    Same….same….same! This is my first year without my ex and with someone new. It’s killing me. It just feels so new and so very different. I still hurt. I try to put on a smile but I feel like I am living in an alternate universe

  40. December 24, 2016 11:17 am

    I understand Catherine. Thats exactly iam going through. From my POV, we never stop missing that special one. Seasons may change, years may fly but its still the same. That feeling of missing him so much that we want to cry at night. Hope everything is working for you now. And merry Christmas Catherine.


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