Posted in Dating / Relationships, Separation / Divorce

Through Highs and Lows: What Christmas Means To Me Today

I wrote what – looking back – was a rather poignant story about Easters past for me and I said that Christmas has always been the bigger occasion yet it holds just as much symbolism which is especially pertinent to the last few years. Please indulge me my momentary mushiness and philosophy based on the drunkenness of seasonal cheer.

The last few Christmases have been some of the most pivotal moments in my life. When I was with my ex-wife, there was no better celebration for us and what our relationship meant. We really went to town in marking it and celebrating our inner child, though we didn’t have a lot of money when we lived together, we made a big thing of it. We were economical and imaginative in decorating our apartment and we visited many markets and festivals often having a great time and spending nothing more than the cost of travel to get there. What we lacked in money, we made up for in spirit.

No idea where this is, but I want to go! This is what Christmas is all about for me. wikimedia.org

Life was good. Christmas to me meant love: that we loved each other and that so long as we had each other, no matter how difficult things got (and they did for a while), we would always have our Christmas to look forward to – the markets, the mulled wine, chestnuts, listening to church bells ringing in Christmas Day, Carols from Kings with a glass of wine, Christmas lights, Christmas music, carol singers at the door, those distinct smells and sounds. We were embarking on a new life together and looking forward to a future that kept us strong.

That last Christmas that was “ours” was 2010 because by Easter 2011, just 18 months into our marriage, the slow process that would lead to our eventual divorce got its wheels in motion. She confessed to falling our of love with me. I subsequently found out about her affair and all our memories, of Christmas, of birthdays, of Easter, of travels and experiences were to become memories of an old life. 2011 was a tough year and that Christmas felt like a non-event. I had been on and off of anti-depressants that year and felt lost. I wanted Christmas over and done with, it was an interruption to normal life that felt shaky and liable to collapse. In truth, I missed “our” Christmas more than I missed her and hoped for 2012 to be a better year, but worse was to come.

2012 was my darkest year yet it began a change about how I saw myself and how I saw my own life – facing difficulties and finally, recovery from some of the darkest thoughts that had plagued me. The lowest point was September yet the wheels of recovery were in motion and though I initially dreaded another Christmas of being reminded of what I had lost, I tried to enjoy it. I did, mostly, and much of what I did was what we used to do together – I was reclaiming Christmas for me; it was not always easy but the positives outweighed the negatives which was an improvement on 2011. Much of it felt weird yet in those days up to New Year something changed. I don’t know what it was, but when the bell struck midnight I was filled with an energy I had not felt in a long time. I just knew that this would be my year. It started well, I got talking to an amazing woman who charmed my socks off but though things didn’t work out with Ubergeek, I had a renewed positivity that set me up for the year.

Last year saw so much joy and happiness come back into my life that I am welling up just thinking about it all. I returned to the family holiday home where, 15 months previously, I almost ended it all. I spent most of that week last December on my own. The day before I met Mirror Image for the first time, I sat in the living room listening to Christmas music and wrapping my presents and I freely confess to getting bleary eyes. Not despair this time, not sadness, not desperation… but finally happiness and I sent a long rambling text message to a female friend of mine to tell her that she is a very dear friend and how much I have appreciated her help over the last year – that I love her like a sister and if she ever needs me, she knows where I am.

I had been looking forward to Christmas since Bonfire Night and actually letting myself do so. I visited a major national Christmas market that the ex-wife and I used to visit together, my first visit since 2010 and it didn’t feel weird. That week I met Mirror Image for the first time too and I was very nervous travelling down to meet her. She looked beautiful and I really, really fancied her and hoped something would blossom between us. We had a great day, it was just sublime and spent it exploring the Christmas market at my university city. We knew we’d meet again and when I got back to the holiday home, I got a text message from her thanking me for a lovely day and hoping we could meet soon; I responded in the affirmative. A kiss would have made it perfect but first steps first – our first kiss would come in February when we next met.

What of the build up this? This year, I am in a relationship once more and now I regard Christmas with the positive air that I once did. Mirror Image is not my ex-wife and we have an energy and a dynamic of our own and it will always be associated (for at least as long as we are together) with the time of year we actually met and I fell in love with somebody new.

Hello Christmas, I am in love with the season all over again. I am travelling to see my girlfriend in the next couple of days so I will probably now not post until New Year.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing – have a great Christmas and  a Happy New Year everyone and may your 2015 be awesome!

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Author:

I go by the name of Frank Speaking. My blog "In the Mind of Men" (former name Chin Up, Chest High) started out as a chronicle of my mental health recovery. Now it is a forum where I discuss issues related to male mental health.

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