This year I put together a musical Advent calendar for my friends on Facebook and Twitter: a song each day from the first day of Advent to the last day of Christmas.
Choosing the songs was fun, like putting together a mix tape for a good friend. At one point in the process I thought, "This calendar needs some Dolly. Surely Dolly Parton must have recorded some Christmas songs," so I went hunting.
The first song that came up, "Hard Candy Christmas," was a sucker punch. Look at the lyrics:
Hey, maybe I'll dye my hair
Maybe I'll move somewhere
Maybe I'll get a car
Maybe I'll drive so far
They'll all lose track
Me, I'll bounce right back
Maybe I'll sleep real late
Maybe I'll lose some weight
Maybe I'll clear my junk
Maybe I'll just get drunk on apple wine
Me, I'll be just
Fine and dandy
Lord, it's like a hard candy Christmas
I'm barely getting through tomorrow
But still I won't let
Sorrow bring me way down...
It made me think of that first Christmas, when I was so giddy at the possibility of being free, and then that second Christmas when I was so bleak about the process and wondered if it would ever really happen, and what would become of me. And then that third Christmas when I was liberated and untethered, not sure if I could do it, wanting to be happy but afraid.
I haven't been there in a long time. I'm happy now. Not happy about everything, of course, but on any given moment I'm feeling good about myself and my place in the world. Yes, I wonder if I'll be alone forever; yes, I worry about my kids; yes, I worry that I won't be as successful as I want to be. But everyone worries about those things. I'm a real girl again.
Back in the middle of the divorce I felt so separate and separated from the rest of the world. Putting on a happy face so the kids wouldn't be scared and worried, like I was. But really just wondering if I was so fundamentally different from everyone else that I would never be integrated again, never find the horizon again.
This is what I learned: There is no way around it but through it.
Keep waking up, keep putting one foot in front of the other, and accept all the help people offer you, and one day you'll break the surface, and it really will all be OK. Good, even.
You'll be fine.
Now I'm going to listen to some Dolly Parton and cry a little for my friends A and D and C who are in the bad part of divorce right now. And then I'll get back to prepping for the holidays I genuinely enjoy again.