I will admit that this year, 2014, I have really struggled with being in “the mood” for the holidays. I used to absolutely love Thanksgiving and Christmas. I have hundreds of incredible memories with my children. Decorating, shopping, listening to their excitement, teaching the traditions, making new traditions, school programs, etc. were so engrained as a part of life and now they are ALL GONE. How do I deal with such loss?
It has been 3 Christmases since my children’s mother chose to give up on our 22 year marriage. It was right at Christmas time. That Christmas was tough because the alienation tactics had begun. The following Christmas (2012) was embroiled in custody battle and involved me filing a contempt charge for her refusal to follow the custody agreement. A GAL was assigned to the case and her inept, apathetic work in representing my children resulted in my contempt charge being thrown out and my ex-wife empowered to continue to alienate the children.
Last Christmas, 2013, was the last time I spent any time with my children. I also had just moved into a new apartment and tried to decorate it nicely for them to enjoy the holiday. I was hoping to reconnect with them by stirring memories of holidays past and allow them to start something new. My intentions were good and that idea to reconnect by stirring memories can be an effective plan. But my children are so controlled, manipulated and brainwashed by the other side of their family, nothing I could have done would have been effective.
From my view, the courts have enabled the alienation by throwing out my only means of action – Contempt of Court for violating the Custody Agreement. The GAL assigned by the courts encouraged the continued alienation through her apathy and inept work. Since she won’t hold my ex accountable, my ex is empowered to continue her emotional abuse and control without restraint. My ex-wife’s family support her alienation which is the hardest pill to swallow.
With all these factors standing against me, how do I cope? How do I continue?
1. Count your blessings – no matter where you are in life, you are always blessed. I have my health, a job I love, good friends, etc. Even the memories of holidays past are a blessing even though they stir up hurt and pain. I am thankful I have those memories for they could be the key to reconnection.
2. Exercise – These negative emotions cause stress which needs to find a natural outlet. The best way to do it without negative effects on you is through exercise. My choice is to lift weights. There is nothing better than to work through the emotional hurt than getting under a heavy bar and moving that weight around.
3. Enjoy today – These painful memories can easily lead to “pity parties” and lamenting what should be. I often will feel guilty for having made a memory without my children. But life goes on and I don’t want to sit around wasting my life for what should be or wait for what could be. I am going to enjoy today because no one is certain tomorrow will even come.
4. Make a video, write a letter or blog, keep a diary. Become in touch with your feelings and work through them. Writing them down or somehow documenting them will help to work through them. The worst thing to do is to suppress your emotions as that will cause bigger problems later.
5. Refrain/minimize negative coping strategies. Don’t get drunk, smoke, do drugs, be promiscuous, etc. Not only do these potentially addicting behaviors have negative health side effects, they prevent you from dealing with your emotions. If you don’t deal correctly with your negative emotions, you will never find healing. Avoid doing them.
6. Eat right and get good sleep. If you don’t feel good physically, it will be harder to cope emotionally.
There is nothing magic in this advice. It take discipline and the ability to deny yourself at times. But the payoff is worth the sacrifice. The end goal is to be reunited with your children and to enjoy the relationship from that point forward. With that goal in mind, you want to be a person your children will admire and respect and love at that point in time. So work towards being that person today.
Author: Paul LaDuke