How to Survive the Holidays with a Broken Heart

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This year, Thanksgiving and Christmas may be extremely painful for those that recently have experienced loss or heartbreak. The Holidays can be a wonderful time–but they can also be great reminders of pain. My hope is that this article will be like a comforting cup of hot chocolate on a cold day for those that feel alone this holiday season.

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It was snowing.

We were holding hands and walking together in the cold. It was the day we would find out where he would begin work as a Pediatrician. They had a term for it, all the med students–“Match Day.” I still remember that day like it was yesterday. I was sitting there anxiously awaiting the news that would change my life forever. News that would determine where a newly married couple would raise their children and build their home. I had just left all my friends and family to move to the East Coast, so that I could start a life with a broke medical student whom I was madly in love with. I just wanted to know where home was.

Ugh, another memory again. I was laying in bed, trying to get this memory out of my head. Why do they keep appearing? I thought. 

And then it clicked–Thanksgiving is almost here. Thanksgiving has a lot more meaning to me than it used to. It’s meaningful because I can celebrate it with joy and truly find so many things to be thankful for despite what happened two years ago. I’m a very different person than I use to be, but it doesn’t mean I will ever forget. 

TWO YEARS AGO, I had the most painful Thanksgiving I have ever lived through. In November 2015, my husband who had been committing adultery, told me our marriage was just a piece of paper. I begged him to change his mind about getting a divorce, but found myself making a bitter 5 day journey from the East Coast back to Las Vegas.  

My marriage fell apart right in time for Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Year’s. I could hardly keep myself together without crying, breaking down, and wishing my life was not real. And now, Thanksgiving was here and my family was wanting to celebrate. Celebrate what? There’s nothing to be thankful for. I had nothing that I could think of that hadn’t already gone wrong in my life. Yet, I had to figure out some way to get through the holidays without crying. Every time I heard a Christmas song, I wished it would stop playing. I couldn’t possibly sing along or agree with any of the words in the music that was playing festively in shops, restaurants, malls, and just about every public place.

On Christmas Day, I found myself in a McDonald’s parking lot crying with mascara running down my cheeks. Christmas. My first Christmas alone. My first Christmas not singing any Christmas songs. My first Christmas where opening presents hurt. My first Christmas where I wanted to disappear more than anyone else in the world, where I couldn’t see God. Where I couldn’t make any sense of my life. As cold as it was outside, my heart felt even colder. To be honest, I barely remember New Year’s Day, I don’t think I even cared.

IT DOES GET BETTER. This year, I know Thanksgiving & Christmas are going to be a great. Why? Because I have lots to be thankful about. I’m thankful that I no longer see myself as an unloved woman. I look in the mirror and I see a warrior who fought to live when she felt hopeless. I no longer have a broken heart, I’ve become a stronger individual, and I’ve truly learned to love the woman I see in the mirror. I’m also thankful I made it through some of the most difficult times–which is why I decided to write about it today. To read about my journey of healing from divorce click here.

ARE YOU FACING HEARTBREAK THIS HOLIDAY SEASON? HERE’S HOW TO GET THROUGH IT ALIVE

  1. Don’t feel like you have to listen to Christmas music, buy people gifts, or eat Turkey. Do you know that God understands your emotions? In fact, he created them. It is NORMAL to grieve during heartbreak. If you can’t listen to Christmas music, don’t. If you can’t seem to decorate your house with lights, don’t. Don’t feel like you have to suddenly force yourself out of grief just because there is a holiday on the calendar. THERE IS ALWAYS NEXT YEAR. Remember that.
  2. It’s OK to be struggling. Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed of your grief. Part of loving yourself is being able to recognize when you have needs and letting others know how they can help. Let them know you are struggling with the Holidays. Though they may not know what to say (a lot of mine did not), maybe you can just let them know that listening to you and hearing you out is enough.
  3. Grab coffee with a safe friend or call somebody. Make sure you don’t isolate yourself. Isolation can lead to unsafe thoughts. In my case, it led to suicidal thoughts and insomnia. You DO NOT have to go to a Christmas party or celebrate anything. BUT YOU DO have to make sure you keep communicating with someone who is safe and will steer you in the right direction. Perhaps, you could go to a friend’s house the day before Christmas and just eat dinner with them or grab coffee with a friend. You don’t have to do anything on the day of Christmas or Thanksgiving itself, but just make sure you are not locking yourself in a room waiting for time to pass by. If you aren’t going to spend the holidays with anyone–it can feel particularly lonely that day. So make sure you call somebody if you aren’t going to be with anyone.
  4. Draw boundaries with friends that say hurtful or inappropriate things.  During the holidays, I had a friend say something that was extremely hurtful when I needed comfort. I made the decision to stop confiding in this particular friend after realizing that I would only get hurt if I continued to confide in this person. I also let that person know how they made me feel.  Make sure you let them know your heart comes first–and it’s ok to refuse advice from people who you think are hurting more than helping. If your friend needs a perspective on what to say and what not to say while you are hurting, have them read this article I wrote by clicking here.
  5. Try to think of Thanksgiving and Christmas as a normal day. I know that is going to be HARD. But, if you keep thinking about how every Christmas and Thanksgiving used to be the “Most Wonderful” time of the year, it will make things worse. Try to keep yourself busy with something, treat yourself to a good meal, and again–if you need to cry–it’s alright.
  6. Talk to a professional counselor. Something I wish happened sooner was getting counseling. I ended up getting counseling after the Holidays, and it made me feel SO NORMAL! In fact, I wished someone would have been able to tell me everything I was feeling was normal during the Holidays. It would have changed everything for me.
  7. Take advantage of Black Friday! If at all possible, try to go shopping and have a bit of fun.
  8. Make a list of new things you want to try during November & December. Maybe go Rock Climbing, try a new restaurant out, try a new hobby, try a new hairdo! Just make sure you keep loving yourself and being YOU.
  9. Remember that Thanksgiving and Christmas are just DAYS on a calendar and you WILL have better days! I can’t say how long your process will be, but I can tell you that last year my holidays were a lot better.

And lastly, remember that Thanksgiving and Christmas are all about love. It’s not all about Turkey, lights, presents–it’s about the fact that once upon a time, God loved us so much that he sent his son Jesus to die for us. Jesus died so that our broken and destitute hearts could have HOPE. You may feel alone this season, but I ASSURE you–God is not far from you. In fact, it says the Lord is close to the broken hearted (Psalm 34:18).

I pray that as you read this, you will feel comforted and know that I too, have once walked in your shoes. I know what it is like to feel out of place during this season–and you must believe that you will have better days and better years.

You may not be able to celebrate anything this year, but I want to let you know there is HOPE beyond what you feel today. You will thrive again one day, and your heart WILL heal. God can heal the most broken of hearts–if you let him. You’ll be surprised at how resilient the heart truly is.

How do I know? I’m proof.

-Jensine, Writer for the Healed Heart.

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Why You Shouldn’t Be Jealous of Your Ex

 

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My husband chose his new mistress over me. But, I wasn’t jealous of her–I was jealous of him. My husband seemed to be doing so much better than me; he committed adultery and seemed to be enjoying his life.  On social media, his new mistress claimed she was experiencing some of her “happiest days” with him. Meanwhile, I was trying to pick up the pieces of my heart—trying hard not to break down. I envied his “happiness.”  I was jealous.

I remember sticking my head out of the window to get some fresh air because I had to calm down. My husband went public with another woman, and we are still married! For a second, I wanted to jump out—but immediately I countered the lie—the lie that my life was over. I said, “I want to live. I want to live!”

Being jealous of your ex is poison. The enemy wants you to believe that you are the most miserable, most pathetic person, and that you are alone in your suffering. The enemy wants you to be devastated by the lie that your ex is experiencing the happiest times of his life without you, and that you have no way of experiencing any happiness of your own. Because I believed that my husband was happier than me, better off than me, more successful than me—I allowed myself to get wounded again. I allowed my heart to be vulnerable and experience more heartache over a lie.

Being jealous will keep you stuck in one place. It is impossible for you to be jealous and have joy at the same time. It is also impossible to move on from your old relationship if you are constantly thinking about your ex. Jealousy chooses to focus on what you don’t have. Jealousy will tell you that you have nothing good, nothing to be thankful for, and that you should keep envying your ex. Jealousy is like wearing a blindfold. When we are jealous, we cannot see the truth.

 

A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body;

jealousy is like cancer in the bones. (Proverbs 14:30)

If you are like me—a wife that thought her marriage would last forever—then you know how difficult it is to rebuild your life after losing your spouse. I had to relocate 2,000 miles across the country after my husband left me destitute, went through severe depression, and didn’t even know where to begin. Meanwhile, everything in his life seemed to remain the same or get better: he kept the same stable job, continued to live in the same neighborhood, and began a new relationship.

The world might say that my husband seemed blessed after committing adultery. His world seemed to get better while my world was turned upside down. Can I tell you the truth? Sin never leads to happiness, and sin never leads to blessing. Don’t believe me? God says it in his word.

If your spouse committed adultery and walked away from your marriage, there is no reason to be jealous. Jealousy says, “I want what he has.” But, let me tell you, your ex has nothing to give you that you haven’t already gotten. They may tell you they are having the best time of their lives. However, they are merely chasing another mirage, another shadow—in hopes that the grass is greener on the other side. Their inability to know real intimacy and love is spun from a web of many complex issues—and that is nothing to be jealous over.

Ways to stop being jealous and move on:

  1. Be thankful. Start writing down things you are thankful for….you may not have much come to mind, but write down the little things—like clean socks. Eventually your list will start to get longer as you begin to focus on the positive.
  2. Pray. Start praying for your ex to know God—not for your sake but for theirs.
  3. Realize your life is not over. Realize that YOUR life has so much potential and that you don’t have to end your story with heartbreak.

 

When the lie begins to creep in that you are second best because your ex chose her instead of you, remind yourself that God chooses you every time. God will always put you first, you are always on his mind, he will never leave you, and he doesn’t break promises.

 

-Jen

 

If you would like to help me pursue my dream to build orphanages, please go to www.gofundme.com/jensinedreams 

This website is meant to tell others who are facing separation or divorce that they are NOT alone. Please use the links on this website to see a list of helpful books, resources, and parts of my own journey that may be able to bring some sanity to your own situation.

 

 

 

 

How God Redeemed My Wedding Song

 

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When my husband and I first fell in love, we had this CD that we were just obsessed with. It was this David Brymer worship CD, and we played it until the songs themselves were tired. I am not kidding! We loved all of his songs. But, our favorite song on that album was, “Eyes of Redemption.”

When my husband proposed, he installed a little device inside of a scrapbook that played our song. When I opened the scrapbook, it played “Eyes of Redemption” and on the last page, were the words, “Will You Marry Me?” That song was also the song I walked down the aisle to on our wedding day.

Right after I separated from my husband, my brother made the mistake of playing David Brymer’s songs while we were making the 2,000 mile trip to the West Coast. I freaked out and immediately told my brother to turn it off. I couldn’t stand reliving the emotions that the album represented. It was too painful. I knew every song on that album.

Anyone going through a divorce will know that listening to your wedding song is incredibly painful. You don’t want to relive the memory of feeling so nervous that you thought you would trip on your dress while walking down the aisle. You don’t want to relive the memory of looking into your husband’s eyes and seeing him grin from ear to ear at the sight of your big but beautiful dress. You don’t want to relive the memory of how your bridesmaids and mother in law scrambled at the last minute to get the wrinkles out of your veil. You don’t want to relive the memory of how you kept checking your teeth to make sure there was no lipstick on them. You don’t want to relive the memory of how you hurried to make sure your vows were in place–and the anxious feeling you had as the wedding planner told you the doors were about to open.

You don’t want to relive your wedding song because it represents pain. The reminder that you invested everything you had to give: your heart. 

Recently, I went to a women’s conference where the speaker, Kim Johnson, began to sing one of David Brymer’s songs, “Worthy of it All.” Normally, I would have had a panic attack just by hearing anything from his album. But, because God had been healing my heart so much, I was unable to recognize the song. I know it sounds bizarre, but I literally kept thinking to myself–what a beautiful song, I wonder who the artist is. It felt familiar, but I couldn’t put a finger on where I had heard it before. I began to sing along with her and the song really touched me. God had somehow made that tune sound new again. I went to bed that night completely unaware that I had sung a David Brymer song from the very album I had been opposed to listening to–the album that had represented pain for so long.

The next morning, that song began to play in my head. Immediately, I felt like I needed to find out the name of the performing artist. I Googled the words “worthy of it all” and to my surprise, David Brymer’s name popped up. I was shocked and said, “I can’t believe that Kim Johnson got me to sing a David Brymer song!” No wonder it sounded familiar!

Immediately, I knew what God wanted me to do next: He wanted me to sing my wedding song, “The Eyes of Redemption.” Tears began to stream down my face, as I sang my wedding song–but this time I wasn’t singing it to my husband, I was singing it to God. Emotions of pain associated with the song began to gently wash away as I sang the lyrics over and over again. I heard God say, “This song belonged to me and you first. I loved you before your husband ever loved you.”

Something began to break in the atmosphere; I felt so free and at peace.

 If you have ever heard my wedding song, “The Eyes of Redemption,” it starts out with these lyrics: “I’m falling in love with you all over again, there is no one who redeems like you….I’m falling in love with you all over again, you’re the shepherd who will see me through. You see my pain through the eyes of redemption. And the sorrow that was mine you took away. ”

God was definitely making a point by redeeming a song about redemption. The Enemy had taken that song and tried to corrupt its meaning in my heart. That’s what the Enemy does, he tries to turn God’s redemption into pain.

I believe that God wants to redeem the wedding song in your heart. He wants to give you HIS love in exchange for the disappointment, the pain, and the brokenness of your marriage. If you think you have nothing left in your heart…let me tell you this, God loved you first before anyone else ever loved you.

So, fall in love again. It’s worth it.

-Jen