Updated: Dec 13, 2019
by Samantha Kondratowicz
The holidays look very different in each and every household. In mine we always decorated the tree as a family, watched a Christmas Story on TV, and all gathered on Christmas morning to take turns unwrapping gifts. But being the youngest child in my family meant that when I grew up those traditions slowly drifted away. When my grandparents passed, we lost a few more. As time went on most of us were separated by miles and miles. With time, money, and distance keeping us apart for the holidays, our family got used to spending them separate.
As a young adult, this meant I was welcomed into many homes to share many memories with many of my favorite people.
Almost 4 years ago I was in a serious relationship which meant spending the holidays with my boyfriend’s family. They welcomed me in with open arms. We had been dating for over 6 months by Christmastime and I had grown very close to everyone in his family, especially his parents. I began to see them as my family in a way. I loved their son and I loved their family. It felt like what I had as a child. I belonged and it felt great. When we split I had to figure out what I would do with the remnants of the year-long relationship. What do you do with all those tidbits of information you’ve stored away about this person? All the time you’ve spent with parents, siblings, children, nieces, and nephews? What do you do with all the celebrations you shared with them and possibly the hard times you’ve walked through together? How do you handle the loss of not just a loving relationship, but the love and acceptance from a whole family? Can it be that in just a year there were deep emotional ties that could devastate like the loss of a loved one?
I’ve never been good at goodbyes. I couldn’t let go of something that was so special and rare. Even though the romantic relationship with my ex didn’t work we had spent so much time and energy creating a solid friendship that wouldn’t easily be forgotten. We may not have wanted the same things in life, but we are connected by friendship and deep understanding. So I didn’t say goodbye. I’ve spent the last few years continuing the relationships I had built and spent many more holidays and vacations with his family.
I spent a lot of time mourning, healing and learning about myself through the
breakup and I know I am stronger for it. I knew what was best for me even when it seemed unnatural to most. I learned that I could trust myself. I learned that sometimes people come into your life for one reason and remain in your life for another. This family who I still consider family filled a gap in my heart that had been empty for a long time. It broke my heart to “lose” that security. In the healing process I started to go to therapy and began filling the holes I was now aware were within me. To be a healthier woman inside and out.
This holiday season I’m not spending with my ex’s family. I’m in a new relationship and I’m building connections within a new family. I’ve spent some time reflecting since this is a big change in my life. After the end of our relationship the loss of memories and significance he brought to my life was what I feared most. What brings me comfort is knowing that just because I’m developing these new relationships doesn’t negate all the amazing relationships and memories I have made in the past. One does not erase the other.
My friendship with my ex and his family is ever present. I am met with many weird looks and tons of questions when anyone hears the story of my ex, but what always rings true for me is that sometimes a connection is too strong to break even in the face of great heartbreak.