By Jennifer Segura
Trying to make it through the divorce of a family member is quite awkward, especially when it starts right smack in the middle of holidays. It can be challenging to know how to proceed… is everyone still invited? If not, what if the “outed” spouse has no one else around to spend the holiday with? What if the one you want to invite is not the blood relative, but the soon to be ex-spouse of the blood relative? How does one navigate these sensitive times?
I am sure there are specific ways you are supposed to deal with these situations. There may be methods that are more or less healthy than others. It is so hard to think about the “right” way to handle these situations when you are living through it, as many of you know. There are so many emotions; guilt, anger, betrayal, fear, sadness. Who do you listen to? Do other family members follow their lead? But what if you do not agree with how they are navigating the situation? What if they choose to ignore facts and side with the blood relative ONLY because they are “blood.” What if that does not feel right to you? Then what do you do?
As mediators, we hear so many stories. We hear about how you manage these types of conversations in your head, and as your family members manage these conversations about you and your spouse. As I sit and listen to your stories, I find myself trying to pull any nuggets of knowledge that has helped, or will help, you and your family through this. I do this as I consider how I will manage the holidays this year, as my brother and my sister-in-law take steps in this process. With each day comes new hurdles, new lies to overcome, and new realizations that I wish I didn’t have to make. It saddens me to think of my nephews and how this is impacting their relationship with my family. It overwhelms me to think of the hundreds of couples I have managed to help throughout the last decade of my life, and yet, I feel I cannot help those closest to me.
I apologize if you read through this blog hoping to get answers, I think I was hoping to get answers myself. That perhaps, as I wrote, the answers would surface. Unfortunately, that is the case. It is too early, and the pain is still too fresh for all of those involved. So, while I do not have answers to share…yet…I did want to share with you that as much as we help you through this process, there are also times when you help us. We listen as you share your lives and how you have managed to cope with all of the changes. The different people at your holiday tables. The new people and those who are missing. We take those nuggets and carry them with us. We use those nuggets to help ourselves and to help other families who will benefit from your wisdom that can only come from experience. Just one more reason, I love what I do. It reminds me that the work I do, overall, is learning more about the human condition. How relationships are established, how they grow, how the change, how they fall apart, and how lives are put back together when they do. So, to all of my clients, I want to say thank you! Thank you for trusting me with your lives and your struggles. It is time I trust you with some of mine.
Have questions about divorce and the holidays? Contact San Diego Family Mediation Center at (858) 736-2411 today.