This will be the thirteenth holiday season that my husband and I have been together, and you would think that after thirteen years of having someone to celebrate Christmas with, I would have forgotten all about how lonely this time of year used to be for me.
But the truth is that just about every Christmas song I hear triggers an emotional response in me that brings me right back to that old familiar feeling that I remember all too well.
Those feelings of hope, of a dream, of loneliness, of despair, of regrets and second guessing – all those feelings come back with the sound of a simple old familiar tune.
I never wanted to celebrate the holidays single.
My married and attached friends seemed to have it all during this time of the year especially. There would be holiday parties for couples, kisses and hugs exchanged under mistletoe, children to open presents with, someone to snuggle up next to after a dinner party – the whole package that I longed to have for myself as well.
But when I look back on those holidays that I was alone vs. the holidays that I had someone to spend them with, I realize something really important. That it is so much better to be alone at Christmas than with someone who makes you feel even more lonely.
I just wanted a commitment.
I remember that excitement I felt, in anticipation of the gift I had been hoping for. It was Christmas, that magical time of the year, so it seemed only fitting that I would get my hopes up that there might be a special gift for me, a ring, or some other symbolic gift that showed a commitment was coming.
The commitment that I wanted so badly.
The commitment that I had been waiting so patiently for.
Instead, I'll never forget my disappointment when one of the gifts I opened in hopeful anticipation was none other than a set of books on dream interpretation.
Yes, I had been having crazy dreams since dating this guy, a sign that a healthier version of myself would have recognized as a clear sign that something was definitely not right about this relationship. This was also from the same guy whose head somehow was cut off in every single picture taken that Christmas – another sign I probably should have noticed and heeded.
And then there was the year I felt for sure I had finally found the one, only to notice shortly before the holidays that he suddenly seemed more emotionally distant. When the romantic surprise his sister had told me he was planning for Christmas turned out instead to be an autographed shirt from my favorite sports team, I knew once again that my hopes of getting the commitment I wanted were not going to be realized.
There were so many other Christmases when I was so excited to have someone to spend the holidays with, only to get such beautiful gifts of fancy clothes, jewelry, perfume, chocolates and yes, even more books. Everything except what I was really looking for – the ring signifying the real committed relationship I was looking for.
If I had just been able to see clearly, without the longing and the expectations and dream of what could have been, but wasn't, I would have been able to see what I see so clearly now.
That if I could just have enjoyed each moment of the holidays with my family, with my friends, with the sweet children in my life with so much excitement and innocence in their eyes, and with the opportunities all around me to find so many meaningful ways to celebrate the holidays, it could have been so different.
I could have been so different.
Because when you're with the wrong person who just won't commit, when you're just with someone because you don't want to be alone at Christmas, when you're with someone hoping it becomes all that you want it to be only to find out that it's really not, that's a feeling of being alone that is so much worse than actually being alone.
Because if you're with someone, and you know in your heart of hearts it's not meant to be like this, it makes you question yourself, and wonder what's wrong with you!
There's nothing wrong with you.
But the truth is there's nothing wrong with you – you're just with someone who's not right for you! And that's why it feels so lonely, that's why spending the holidays with him isn't everything you so hoped it would be.
And that's why if you are actually single this Christmas, you can know for certain that it is far better to be alone, than to feel alone with someone.
Because when you're with the right person for you you'll know because you will never feel alone.
How are you feeling about your love life during the holidays this year? Tell us about it in the comments so we can all support each other!