The Ghost of Christmas Past

Let’s just face it, the holidays can be brutal. The financial stress, the pressure to get just the right gift for everyone, the mall parking lot traffic and people cutting you off, the long lines and feeling that everyone is just on the edge of a mental break down. I really have considered becoming a Jehovah’s Witness so I wouldn’t have to celebrate Christmas anymore, but I would really hate knocking on people’s doors trying to hand them The Watchtower pamphlet before they slam it in my face even more. Perhaps a Buddhist would be a better fit for me. Either way, you can’t get away from it.

On one hand, there are sparse moments of Christmas cheer. Like when my co-workers join together to sing carols to all the students in their classrooms and the room is filled with joy. Unfortunately, that joy is interrupted by some asshole being an hour late picking up their kid from school making me one of the last people to leave work on a Friday night.

The holidays can be especially hard after a divorce. I can’t help but lament about losing all of those traditions we once had when the kids were little. We use to go to the local tree farm and cut down our own Christmas tree every year. I’d make hot chocolate for all of us and bake cookies with the kids. I’d put on Christmas music while I was left alone to decorate the tree all by myself and throw mom guilt out to all my kids for not helping. It wasn’t picture-perfect, but it was nice all the same. It’s funny how your memories dilute the irritation of how the story really played out. In actuality, my ex-husband hated participating in any of the family traditions and usually ruined the fun of cutting down our Christmas tree, but I guess I even miss that aspect too. After the divorce, I wanted to keep the tradition going and the kids and I would go cut down our tree without him. Although I was proud as hell of doing it all by myself and felt like it was more fun without his negative energy…I missed him all the same.  I finally gave up trying to keep the tradition and bought a fake Christmas tree last year. I never thought I’d have a fake tree but I really don’t even give a shit anymore. Maybe I just miss being a family. That’s what makes the holidays hard. After a divorce, it’s never the same and all you’re left with are the memories good and bad.

Sorry, I don’t mean to be a downer around the holidays but I realized this is the first Christmas that we won’t be spending in our home and it feels strange. I’ve lost my Christmas spirit. I miss the traditions. I’ll be so happy to have all my kids together, but it’s just different. The kids are grown and that connection feels like it’s untethered. I’m sure it feels like that once your kids are adults living their own lives whether you’re divorced or not but when they leave to go see their dad and their new baby brother the day after Christmas, a part of me will feel lost. Is it weird that I wish we could all be together? Oddly enough, I wish I could spend time with them and their half-brother. The feeling of separation from someone you spent your life with still feels strange even after all these years. It’s like not being on speaking terms with someone in your family. A part of you feels sad that the person is no longer a part of your life yet, I really don’t want him in my life at all.

This year it feels like I’m in a really sick version of the Christmas Carol only Dickens wrote in the ghosts as three of my exes (and I use the terms “ex” loosely). No seriously, in the last couple of weeks, I’ve had three different guys from my past, present and absolutely no chance of a future come back into my life like a bad rash.

One of them was a guy I just messed around with after my divorce. There was no commitment, no chance of a romance…strictly sex (and sadly, the sex wasn’t even that great). I’ve been seeing him around lately and he’s trying to hit me up like he used to when I was broken and apparently desperate for attention. I mean any attention because he kind of treated me like trash and I was okay with it because I didn’t want anything serious. I saw him on my terms and wanted nothing else from him but bad sex. Needless to say, I’ve healed tremendously from then and I want nothing to do with that life anymore.

The second guy was from the present (well sort of). We have been friends for a while and went on one date years ago and there was no spark. He’s a really nice guy, has a good job, he’s an awesome dad and is someone you can trust. I thought we could give it a shot more recently and it turned out he was in a bad place and treated me like an option instead of a girlfriend so I quickly put an end to it. Now he feels bad about it and sent a big long text apologizing. He’s inviting me out with him lately, but I’m not one to put my heart on the line for someone that doesn’t deserve it—so that’s over.

The third guy is the choir boy I recently dated that literally went ghost on me. Well, not exactly, he blew off plans we made and so I ghosted him actually, but I refuse to waste my time on people that don’t value spending time with me. I know it sounds harsh and maybe a little uppity but that is one of my biggest pet peeves so I rarely give someone a second chance after blowing me off.  He reached out to me the other day with this lame excuse on how his phone was broken and he tried to reach out to me on social media but I didn’t respond. He too had this long-winded apology telling me he was in a “bad place” and that he loved spending time with me. The other day he “friended” me on Facebook and I was able to see all the old messages of him trying to reach out to me. Guess he wasn’t lying after all. I made the mistake of responding to those messages letting him know that I never saw them until now and he wants to date me again. Truth be told, I wasn’t that interested then and I’m less interested now. We have absolutely no future together and he really needs to fix his issues before getting into a relationship anyway.

The moral of this classic story is that the ghosts of the past, present and no chance of a future has taught me a valuable lesson. The lesson is that I will no longer live in the past like that lonely, heartbroken, slightly desperate for attention woman I once was. These men creeping back into my life are there to show me that I am stronger and will never settle for men that don’t give me the kind of relationship I want and deserve. Time is precious, just like in that story and I won’t waste mine living with regret and self-pity. I am done with allowing men to disappoint me. I am much happier completely alone and I don’t need to have these meaningless attachments to men that I don’t see a future with. I consider that my greatest gift this year.  

Looking back and reflecting on this year as we all do. I recognize that it has been a year of growth and change. Not to the extent that I wish it to be, but growth nonetheless. This year I moved, continued to lose weight and stay healthy, changed jobs and finally bought a new car. Sure, I’m struggling to afford my new life but maybe it will propel me to make bigger changes and launch my own counseling business in 2020. I don’t know where to start exactly, but I will just take steps toward that direction and have faith that God has a bigger plan for me.

 I’m tired of staying small and settling for mediocrity. I’m focused on my passions and trust that the path will be made clear to me as long as I keep taking those steps to move forward. The ghosts of the past won’t haunt me anymore. Even my greatest fear that my reputation was trashed after losing my job has proven not to be untrue. It was the fear allowing me to hold on to that story and my attachment to playing the victim of an injustice keeping me small and broken. No one can break you—only the belief that they have the power to break you and that only exists in your mind. Use this New Year to challenge your negative beliefs about yourself and reclaim your power by relinquishing those old patterns of allowing other people to make you feel unworthy or unloved. Those things can’t define you—they can only be the lessons you need to learn in order to expand and grow. Don’t allow the ghosts of the past to take up real estate in your life. Wake up and use those lessons to expect more…to do more. To live your life fully realized instead of being haunted by the past.

With Faith, Hope, and Love,