Gray Divorce Expert: Jenn Krusinski
You know the saying, “Be careful what you wish for”?
Well, what about, “Be careful what you look for”?
“I just knew that the holidays would be hard and that they would never feel the same again.”
A Holiday Story:
It’s the holiday season and I’m going to tell you a Holiday story.
It was my first Holiday sans marriage, sans my “wife” identity, sans my “normal” family — I was prepared for the worst.
I assumed my Ex was going to be super-difficult, needy, and negative. Predicted that my kids would be disappointed and angry and someone would act out. I knew I’d be made to feel “less-than” while gathering with married couples at holiday parties IF I would even be invited.
And I imagined I would get the side-eye from my (ex) Mother-in-Law who couldn’t understand why I was still invited to and agreed to attend the family holiday dinner. I just knew that the holidays would be hard and that they would never feel the same again.
What I Look For, Happened:
I was right.
That first year sucked. And everything above? It ALL happened.
After all, was said and done; after I’d been so incredibly miserable; I asked myself, “What could I have done differently?”
I looked back.
And do you know what I saw?
I saw my ex flailing, yes, but trying to make up for holidays he’d ruined in the past. He was over-trying to his own point of frustration, but TRYING nonetheless.
“I saw myself anxious, LOOKING for hard, LOOKING for a mess of a holiday..”
I Got What I Looked For!
I saw my daughters disappointed to be splitting their time AND supporting each other like they’d never done before, making each other laugh and being so appreciative of their parents trying to get along…even though Christmas Eve ended in a quarrel when their emotions spilled over, they had tried. It was there, I saw it, now.
I heard my best friend tell me she didn’t invite me to her holiday party because I’d told her how being around happy couples made my heartache. She was protecting my heart.
I saw my (Ex)Mother-in-Law looking at me. I didn’t see disapproval and see anxiety. And I saw her looking out for her son and felt the weight of the entire scene in her eyes.
I saw myself anxious, LOOKING for hard, LOOKING for a mess of a holiday and…man, did I get what I looked for!?
My Holidays Have Been Better:
When I LOOKED BACK with a different perspective of wanting patience and understanding, of expecting better over bad, of feeling peaceful and joyful, I SAW something entirely different.
This is all to say, be careful what you look for.
You just might find it.
So, I know you’re wondering if my holidays since have been better. I can honestly say, “Definitely yes.”
“When people acted in ways that went against my expectation, what then?”
What We CAN Control:
No holiday is ever perfect of course. We can’t control other people or all situations. What we CAN control is how we respond to and move through life’s events. I decided ahead of time I would look for the good in people — yes even my ex — and the good in people was on bright display.
And, when it wasn’t, when people acted in ways that went against my expectation, what then?
I felt compassion. And guess what happens to our eyes, our outlook, when we have compassion in our hearts? We see the good.
So, THIS holiday season, whether you’ve been divorced ten years or this is the first-holiday post-divorce, whether you are with your kids or this is the year they spend with your Ex, decide ahead of time by asking yourself this question.
“Mothers-in-law are a complicated relationship, to begin with.”
“What Will I Look For?”
I guarantee you’ll find it.
PS – This story was written after my (ex)Mother-in-Law passed away rather unexpectedly this Thanksgiving weekend. I spent far too many past events and holidays looking for her judgment. This year, I spent Thanksgiving night by her side in the hospital so the rest of her family could have some semblance of a holiday dinner.
Josette passed away two days later.
Mothers-in-law are a complicated relationship, to begin with. Divorce doesn’t make it easier to say the least. But, we get to decide from here on out just how our relationships get to look.
Let’s look for the good.
About the Author:
Jenn Krusinski is a Holistic Life Coach, mom to three feminist and highly opinionated daughters and a woman who found herself at the crossroads of Midlife + Divorce at 47. After feeling her way through the grief and doing “all the things” to come out the other side still standing, Jenn decided it was time to switch gears and work with women like her who want to reimagine life after divorce — Becoming WHOLE, IGNITED and BRAVE! You can follow Jenn’s “real talk” on Instagram instagram.com/jennkrusinski and find out more about her coaching programs — Be Crazy Brave and Let Shit Go at jennkrusinski.com.