Thursday, December 29, 2016

Soul Sustenance: New Year's Eve for the Heartbroken

Don’t uncork that champagne! Stomp on the party hats and noise makers. That special kiss at midnight? Forget about it! New Year’s Eve is the loneliest night of the year when your heart’s been broken. While the whole world is counting down the minutes, you’re dreading it. So what do you do about New Year’s Eve when your heart has been broken?

New Year’s Eve has a mystical significance. The human brain naturally seeks patterns and no pattern is more primary than that of endings and beginnings. At the end of something, we naturally look back and evaluate. Was it good? Was I successful? Is my life moving forward as I’d like it to? When your relationship has ended and you’re grieving, you may be tempted to answer those questions – no – no – no! This past year brought me heartbreak.

That’s hard enough, but stir that into the pot with the fact that most everyone around you is excitedly preparing for that once-a-year ending and your misery is multiplied by a thousand. How to get through that night?

The first thing you need to do is decide – is it better for me to be alone or with people? What’s the healthiest thing for me to do? If your break up is recent or if you are still in the tsunami phase when your world has been turned upside down and you’re emotionally reeling, it may be best to stay home and limit your suffering. Being in an altered state when everyone around you is drunk and going “Whoo-hoo!” is hell on earth.

But don’t spend it in a pity party (English translation – don’t stuff yourself with garbage food or drink too much all by yourself – don’t do that!) Instead, do something nice to soothe your soul. Here are two suggestions if you plan to be alone on New Year’s:

1)  Turn your home into your personal spa. Buy some lovely scented bubble bath, yummy special food and treats, and candles. Create an environment of healing. Do some hydrotherapy, e.g. take a hot bath with that bubble bath or essential oils and light candles in the bathroom. Put on some music that you love. Maybe meditate for a few minutes. Pet your dog or cat. Listen to wind chimes. You get the idea. Center your aching heart. And, by the way, I’m looking at you, guys, too! This isn’t just for women! Men need self-care too. Don’t feel you have to stay up till midnight. Get into bed and kiss this year goodbye.

2)  Make a vision board. That’s a great thing to do on New Year’s Eve! A vision board is a physical representation of what you envision yourself having or being in the future. It’s a collage of images, quotes, and words mounted onto a poster board. Vision boards work in the same way that positive thinking works, by keeping you focused on what you want, who you want to be and how you want to feel in the coming year.

Here’s what you do. Set up a nice environment (remember the candles and music?) before you start to work. Get a bunch of old magazines, some markers and glue. Go through the magazines and cut out the images that move and inspire you – images of what you might want in your life in the coming year. Cut out words or phrases, too, that have meaning to you. Try to tap into the right side of your brain – choosing pictures because of your emotional response. Glue them all down on the poster board, making a colorful collage. Get into it! Pat yourself on the back for doing something so positive for yourself on New Year’s Eve.

If you’ve graduated from the tsunami phase, however, and are presentable for human company, plan your New Year’s Eve wisely by not overwhelming yourself and trying too hard to make it great. Get together with people but keep it low key. Here are two suggestions for you if you want to be around people:

1)  Have a single person’s dinner party. Invite whatever single friends you have and ask them to invite their single friends. Make it a potluck so you don’t have to work so hard. You don’t have to make it the most glittering of evenings – just people getting together to eat and mark the transition of the year. And it’s sort of fun to have guests that you don’t know – the friends of your friends. The nice thing about this party is that you’re all in the same boat and your guests will know how you feel. And everyone appreciates having someplace to go on New Year’s Eve.

2)  Another thing to do is to volunteer. Some communities have “drive safe” programs – sober folks who are on-call to drive the drunk ones home safely. See if there’s an activity like that you can do that will help others on New Year’s Eve. Guaranteed to make the night meaningful for you and usher in the new year in a spirit of community and giving.

Remember that this is not the last New Year’s Eve you’ll ever have so limit your expectations for this particular night. Use it as an opportunity to reach down and pull up some positivity and courage. It’s normal that you’ll be thinking of your departed love this night. Your mind will wander to previous years when the two of you were together, but just notice those thoughts and let them drift away. Don’t let yourself dwell on them. Turn your vision from the past to the future. Take good care of yourself and have a Happy New Year in whatever form you choose to make it.

May We All Find Peace!
About Vikki Stark                                                
Vikki Stark, Family Therapist, is the author of Runaway Husbands and the editor of it's new companion volume, Planet Heartbreak: Abandoned Wives Tell Their Stories in which 62 women tell their stories of when their husbands left. Vikki believed herself to be in a happy marriage until the day her husband said, "It's over." She started the Sudden Wife Abandonment Project and has become a beacon of hope to suffering women all over the world.                                   

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