Holidays After A Breakup
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.
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.