I know this time of the year really sucks if you’ve been left or if your marriage has ended. Everything feels different and the fantasy that the rest of the world is happy only makes your gloom, well, gloomier.

But I want to wake you up and push you to reach down, bring up some muscle and TAKE BACK THE HOLIDAYS! Get in touch with your defiant self – I know it’s in there – and say, “You can take my marriage, you can take my money, you can make the kids split their lives between two parents, but you can’t take away the holidays! They’re mine!”

Believe me, I can relate. Years ago my husband left me suddenly in November. I had just written my first book and was in the process of promoting it when he bolted. It killed me to do book signings, sitting by the front door of bookstores, watching all the happy, excited couples on their holiday shopping trips. Ouch! That hurt!

And a friend invited me to a Christmas eve party. I threw some clothes on my now stick-figure body (having lost 30 lbs. in six weeks) and went. I last about a half hour. Sitting there with all those comfortable, take-each-other-for-granted, couples was unbearable. But hey! I went!

So sometimes, we have to go ahead and do things, even though we don’t feel like it, as a way to saying to ourselves, “This is MY life and I’m going to celebrate Christmas if it kills me!” They may be feeble acts but buy yourself some flowers, light a scented candle, turn on the god-awful holiday music and say “yes”, when your friend invites you over, even if it means you’re only going to stay for the hors d’oeuvres. Buy yourself a gift, unpack your moxie and TAKE BACK THE HOLIDAYS!

I’m a psychotherapist, family therapist and the author of Runaway Husbands: The Abandoned Wife's Guide to Recovery and Renewal and My Sister, My Self: The Surprising Ways that Being an Older, Middle, Younger or Twin Shaped Your Life. I can be found online at www.vikkistark.com and www.runawayhusbands.com.

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