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November 29th, 2016 by Marta J. Papa


Part 8: The Imperative of Self-Care for Divorcing Parents During the Holidays: Recap

Thanksgiving is now firmly upon us, and it is always daunting how swiftly the days and hours flow together this time of year. The more frequent overcast skies, the ever reducing daylight, and the interruption of regular school and work schedules for the holiday season all collude to challenge everyone’s equilibrium. And, if you are currently undertaking divorce proceedings, these holiday months are especially sensitive times and, therefore, must be attended to with patience and a commitment to self-care.

Thus, throughout this month of November, I have focused upon tools to bolster your well-being and protect your mental and physical health. The goal is to strengthen yourself, so you can be as healthy as possible for your children’s sake, as well. So, let’s review:

  1. Remember to be proactive in attending to your social needs and engagements.
  2. Remember to employ mental enhancing strategies, such as music and meditation.
  3. Remember to find therapy in physical exertion—go for a long walk in a nearby park; explore the neighborhood with your canine companion; keep your gym workouts regular…just move!
  4. Remember to purposely seek out the relief of humor…in a comic strip; in a classic television situational comedy marathon; in hanging out with a friend who can always be counted upon for a laugh.
  5. Remember to nurture an attitude of gratitude. Help those less fortunate than you are; donate some time or money to a worthy cause; volunteer to ring the bell for the Salvation Army; offer some service to your kids’ school.

In addition,

  1. Remember there are professionals available who can offer you additional help and guidance at this time. Your primary care doctor can provide recommendations to local therapists who specialize in issues you are currently facing. Perhaps an objective voice and viewpoint are just what you need right now.
  2. Remember there are 12 Step meetings throughout the St. Louis area, which help and support not only those persons seeking recovery from some kind of abuse, but those who have suffered from it as victims, as well. Simply do a search on the web for times, locations, and meetings’ focus.
  3. Remember your self-care will only strengthen your ability to face December’s challenges and set an example for your children.

Which brings me back full cycle this month to Mrs. X. If you recall, Mrs. X was facing her first Thanksgiving alone when she came to me as a client. She was housed in a modest apartment, without the presence of her children or any semblance of her former, extravagant way of life. Yet, Mrs. X was seeking a divorce precisely because she wanted something more for herself and her well-being. To that end, she was making some brave choices. And she certainly set the tone for the holidays by volunteering at a local soup kitchen for the day. She was determined to make healthy, life-giving choices for herself.

Ultimately, Mrs. X not only triumphed in the short term, but she exceeded even her imaginings of what the future could hold. She ultimately got ownership of a lake property, which she converted into a women’s retreat house for those going through the trauma of divorce proceedings themselves. Having traversed the very challenging terrain of ending an unhappy relationship, Mrs. X wanted to provide comfort and a safe place for those who were in the midst of ending their own. Certainly an example for us all!