I spoke to a client this week (we’ll call her ‘Mary’), whom I have worked with in my Psychotherapy Practice on and off for years. She was in her early thirties when we first began working together. During our first session she told me “You really should talk with my Mother. She knows me better than I know myself.” Fast forward to today. Mary is now forty-five. During the ensuing years, she has been through a marriage, a divorce, another long-term relationship and its break-up, the launch and management of her now very successful business, and breast cancer.
Today Mary looks to herself to arrive at her own truth. It has been my privilege to watch her evolve into “knowing” and valuing herself from the inside out, versus looking to external voices to tell her who she is and what is best for her. She is doing great… a survivor of some disappointment and despair along the way, who has become a thriver, developing strength, inspiration and potent wisdom through these hardships.
But like many women of her generation, Mary always imagined and desired marriage and children in her life. Her childlessness by circumstance, a reality for so many, has become increasingly common — putting years of energy into academic achievements, working around the clock for two decades in her business, marrying the wrong man, not yet finding the right one and now past her child-bearing years.
During our session, at the start of this holiday season, she articulated, what I have heard many times from others, about what it feels like to be a woman without children during the holidays:
“Everyone seems interested in the whereabouts of my siblings on the holidays, because they have children. No one seems to notice or as interested in my plans. I feel rootless, wondering from home to home… and am expected to… because I can.”
This may sound self-pitying, but trust me — that is not her nature. But it IS her truth… and it is important that she expressed these feelings because they are real, because they come in waves — especially around charged catalysts like the holidays, and because its expression is a necessary release and avenue to reach the other side.
How many of us feel the same way? What do you experience as a single woman or man, or even as a partner in a relationship without children during the holidays? Do you experience sporadic feelings of displacement or isolation? Do you have difficulty feeling “grateful” during Thanksgiving or “joyous” during the Christmas/Chanukah Holidays or New Years? If so, what steps do you take to get through it?
I invite you to share your thoughts so that we can develop a healing dialogue and perhaps offer one another some timely words of wisdom along the way. Meanwhile, I’d like to share some of my own:
Here are Six Solid Holiday Blues Solutions for the Single and Childless
I hope these suggestions serve as a template for positive coping strategies during other holidays and celebrations that may trigger melancholy (Valentines Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthdays, etc.). Life is all too brief to short-change ourselves, just because everything we have hoped and expected in our lives has not come to fruition. As feelings of regret or void may surface at times, let us rejoice in our power to reclaim what IS, embracing and enjoying all the positive relationships, experiences and contributions that are our enduring legacy.
We are a community of souls — each striving for happiness and fulfillment. Look around you — you are not alone.
Originally published at medium.com