First New Year's Eve Alone in 10 Years

Her marriage has ended — how should she kick off her new single life?

By Sherry Amatenstein, LMSW

Q. My marriage broke up a few months ago. The decision to divorce was mutual. There are no children nor am I in torment. But this will be my first New Year’s Eve alone in 10 years and I’d love some suggestions for how to begin my new beginning. — TaraA. As you’re clearly aware, this is a pivotal moment in your life — a move away from who you’ve been and a stepping stone on the way to becoming who you are meant to be. December 31st, then, is an important marker. Choose how to spend it carefully.The key is to start becoming comfortable with yourself as a solo act. Think carefully how you will feel if you attend a party without a man on your arm. If you are the extroverted type and can consider it an adventure, go for it. If being around couples doing the midnight kissing thing will bring you to a place of mourning for what you’ve lost versus contemplating what you’ve gained, save the big gathering for ushering in 2010. Carla Hall recalls, "When my marriage ended three years ago I was in no mood to spend my New Year’s Eve in a room filled with forced frivolity. Couldn’t do it." Instead the now 40-year-old New York musician created a spiritual haven for herself. "I stayed home, took a bubble bath, and made myself a lovely meal." No Swanson’s for her; this was a special evening, requiring a special dinner. "I acted as if I was expecting a VIP, and I was — me!" Around 11 p.m. Hall began writing a list of the things she wanted to do over the coming year, things she hadn’t been able to accomplish when bound by the at times wonderful, at other times frustrating constraints of being a couple. The singer ended the special night by lighting a candle and meditating over her goals. "Minutes later I heard the entire neighborhood counting down the New Year, so I still felt part of the world at large. Then I blew out the candle and went to bed."California marriage therapist Sharon Rivkin, MA, MFT, offers a few other suggestions for making this transitional event a memorable occasion. The author of The First Argument says, "Create a new tradition. Even though you’re not with someone, you have yourself. How wonderful is that?" This tradition can involve anything from building a fire and writing in a journal to having a Let’s End the Year Right party and inviting some treasured people over to share the evening. Rifkin has a few other noteworthy ideas: "Find a close friend with whom to share some champagne, a few tears, and hopes for the future." Or the therapist suggests contemplating your former relationship: What were its good points, it bad ones? Then paint a picture of your ideal relationship and visualize that for 2009.The point isn’t what you wind up doing but that you take the time beforehand to plan the evening carefully. Don’t just let the holiday creep up on you unawares. That’s when the blues can strike. Even if you don’t wind up doing the exact perfect thing, know that in the end it’s just one night. What really counts is that you dedicate yourself to living the next year and all the coming ones with courage, a healthy spirit of risk-taking and a heart full of love. So rather than dwelling on "Auld Lang Syne," let’s lift a virtual toast to the future!Do you have a tough question about dating or relationships?E-mail Sherry at datingexpert@more.com and your question might be featured in an upcoming column.E-mail Sherry About Sherry AmatensteinSherry Amatenstein, LMSW, is the author of Love Lessons from Bad Breakups and Q&A Dating Book. She runs dating seminars around the country and does private coaching — not to help singles marry in 60 days, but to uncover their blocks. She has given relationship advice on the Early Show, Regis, Inside Edition, CBS News, VH1, BBC, and many other programs. Her philosophy is that the most important relationship you’ll ever have is with yourself.Schedule a one-on-one coaching session with Sherry Buy Love Lessons from Bad Breakups Buy The Q&A Dating Book Originally published on MORE.com, December 2008.

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