Category Archives: Post-divorce identity

Settling In

It didn’t really hit me that I was on my own again and starting over until I moved from a 4 bd, 2 ba home into a 2 bd, 1 ba apartment. The dogs had to get used to being in a smaller place. I had to somehow cram all my junk into a much smaller space. But once I sorted through my stuff, got rid of what I didn’t want (mostly stuff I had with ex), and got used to the idea of being in a smaller space, I was fine.

I enjoyed being on my own – having the things I wanted to have (like dishes and furniture), being able to stay up late, have dinner with friends, and entertain people in my humble abode. Yes, my apartment was small compared to the homes I had lived in, but it was my apartment. It was a new beginning for me.

The first time I really felt settled in was when the dogs and I sat in my big “napping chair” (an estate sale bargain!) and just listened to the peace and quiet. When I first moved into the apartment, I had the furniture from my home with ex – it had become ratty due to dogs chewing on it. I got rid of that and finally got something I wanted. Granted, it was smaller and not brand new, but it was something that did not remind me of ex. My loveseat, napping chair and two (not matching) wingback chairs were estate sale finds. They were cheap enough that I could decorate my home the way I wanted to and not go into debt to do so. Somehow, all the pieces complemented one another.

Once I got beyond the anger and bitterness and began to heal, I began to settle in to my new life. It was scary at times and I would get irritated that I did not have enough money for what I wanted –  travel, new clothes, etc. – but I learned to be content with what I had. I was happy to finally be getting on with my life.

I have lived with Cycle Dude now for almost a year. When I moved in with him last March, I had to get rid of a lot more stuff. I still have the napping chair and the loveseat – they are now his living room furniture – and I also have my bedroom suite (it was my mom and dad’s and is over 50 years old). Cycle Dude has allowed me to settle into his home and make parts of it my own (like my bedroom). We are settled in together now.

Life does move on after a divorce – it has to. One cannot stay in that place of anger, bitterness, depression and sadness for very long. Once the dust has settled, one needs to take a deep breath, assess one’s assets and surroundings and move forward. You will eventually come to a place that feels better and you will discover the new normal for your life. You will come to that place of being comfortable and settled in. Life will once again make sense. Just don’t expect your life to be as it was. Expect it to be better! Stay tuned. . . .

 

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Be Prepared

I walked into work Tuesday morning to find that a survey team from a national  healthcare accrediting organization was on campus. The people at Myjob have been preparing for this organization’s visit for the better part of a year. The organization comes every 2-3 years to inspect the hospital for re-accreditation. Even though we expected the survey team in the fall, my boss said they could come as early as late spring or early summer. My boss has been preparing his team for this visit since October.

I am glad we have been preparing for this event. I have learned a great deal more about healthcare and what it takes to run a hospital. I have learned that it is better to be proactive than not. It is better to anticipate possible scenarios than to sit back and “let it slide”.

One thing I have learned, especially through my divorce, is to be prepared. I can honestly say, I was not prepared to divorce and then to deal with all the emotional, physical and financial flotsam and jetsam that accompanied it. Sure, I knew it was coming – I knew that several years before it actually happened. But I was still not prepared.

I wrote about this subject in a post entitled, “Storm Warnings”. However, I’d like to apply a little of what I have learned in preparation for this healthcare accreditation organization visit.

1.  Categories: Organize your divorce preparations into categories – financial, household, relational, work-related, etc. Sit down and make a list of these categories, then add the following: under financial – income, budget, savings, retirement, emergency fund (even though you may get alimony, don’t count it as income because it’s not going to be around forever and you don’t want to become overly dependent on it); under household – will you sell your home? Move into a new home/apartment? Need to have a yard sale? Need to replace household items? (hint: estate sales are good places to get household items – furniture, dishes, etc. if you need to set up a home.); under relational – How soon will you tell people of your (impending) divorce? Who will you tell? How do you break the news to important people in your life (children, parents, siblings, etc.)?

2. Rank: Once you have your categories and have broken them down into sub categories, give each sub category a ranking from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest) in order of priority. What things will you take care of first? What things can wait? Work on the #5’s first and cross them off your list when done. Number fives should be things like income (how are you going to support yourself?), housing (where are you going to live?), and debt (pay off old debts and don’t create any new ones until your are financially stable).

3. Finish: Once you have finished an item, cross it off your list. If you are really good and make a spreadsheet, hide that column/row when you’ve completed it. Once it’s done, it’s done.

4. Document, document, document: Keep a copy of all your records. Keep a phone log of your conversations with ex or of any electronic communication with ex. You may have to produce this information if it comes down to “he said – she said” in court. Be aware that unless you inform someone you are recording the conversation with them, that communication may be against the law. A good rule of thumb regarding keeping records and documents is 10 years. Instead of tons of boxes full of paper crowding up your spare bedroom, scan documents and store them on a flash drive, backup hard drive or on the ‘cloud’.

Everything we experience in our lives in a learning experience. We can take what we learn in one aspect of our lives (ex. work) and apply it to other aspects of our lives (personal). The thing is we should never stop growing and learning. And, yes, we can even learn from an unpleasant experience like a divorce. Stay tuned. . . .

Nuts and Bolts

I work in Facilities Operations for a major healthcare organization in Mytown. Prior to having this job, I knew very little about how a hospital is run. As a patient or a visitor, one never gives much thought to things like air handlers, cleanliness of the parking garage, expired hand sanitizer, malfunctioning card readers, etc. However, it’s the nuts and bolts of a hospital that ensure an excellent patient experience.

The same is true for our lives post-divorce, or post any difficult experience. It’s the nuts and bolts that will determine how we experience our lives. The nuts and bolts are the small details, the micro as opposed to the macro. As real nuts and bolts are necessary to keep something functioning, so are the figurative nuts and bolts necessary to keep you  functioning. What are some examples of the nuts and bolts of a post-divorce life?

  1. Finances: budgeting, saving, retirement funds, paying bills on time, balancing your checking account, how much do you spend and on  what?, etc.
  2. Relationships: spending time with loved ones, asking for forgiveness if applicable, granting forgiveness where applicable, taking time one-on-one with your children, spending more time with your friends, etc.
  3. Home life: determining the frequency for things like laundry, vacuuming, housecleaning; sorting through stuff and determining what to keep, give away and throw out – purging your past.
  4. Personal life: Am I paying attention to my health? Should I date? if so, when should I start dating? Should I return to school to update my skills? Do I need to lose weight? Start eating healthier? Am I getting enough sleep? Do I need to see a counselor? Am I depressed? Am I taking enough “me” time? Am I getting enough exercise? etc.
  5. Work life: Do I need to find a new job? What training can I take to make me more valuable as an employee? Schedule time to speak to your boss about your goals and what you can do to be better at your job. etc.

Take some time to sit down and look at the nuts and bolts of your life. Perhaps nothing mentioned above is applicable. That’s okay. You may find out that the nuts and bolts of your life now are different. The small things that matter have changed, especially when you’re an empty nester. Determine what the nuts and bolts are for you, those things necessary in your life to keep you functioning. Pay attention to the nuts and bolts and make sure they are in good repair. Stay tuned . . .

What’s Your Passion?

My mom graduated from college in 1958. She immediately went to work as a teacher. Even though she “retired” several years ago, my mom is still teaching. She is currently helping my little sister, also a teacher, by giving one-on-one attention to a little boy in my sister’s class at school. I guess we could say my mom’s passion is teaching, helping children to learn at their best.

I am not sure what my passion is. I love to read, write, play the piano, sew, cook and hike. I guess I would say that my passion is encouraging moms with little kids. Being a mom can be overwhelming, especially when that little one is teething and won’t sleep through the night, or your first child is still in the middle of toilet training when the second one comes along. A mom’s days can be long when she is the only caregiver for her children. She may feel isolated, alone, misunderstood and longs for adult conversation. I have been there, I know what it’s like to be a stay-at-home mom with three little kids. I dealt with meddling in-laws, not being able to find a babysitter so I would have a date night with my husband, and being so tired, I didn’t know if I could even get up in the morning.

There are many young mothers at my church. My impression is that they do a good job of staying connected to one another, but that may not always be true. I am in a small group with several young mothers. My heart is with this ladies as they carve out their roles as mom and wife and try to balance the two. My passion is being a resource for these moms – either through providing free childcare for a date night with their husband, or being an ear for them when they are feeling frustrated.

How does one find one’s passion? Answer these questions: What do you like to do? What circumstance touches your heart? Where do you wish you could make a difference? Take some time to explore the answers to these questions. Word of caution: your passion may take you out of your comfort zone. Are you ready for that? Stay tuned . . . .

What’s in a Name?

When I was separated, I knew I wanted to take back my maiden name. My ex-husband had so dishonored my married name for me, that I didn’t want to have his last name any longer. I asked my children prior to making that decision, though. I did not want them to think I was trying to hurt them by changing my last name. If even one of them had said they were offended, I would have remained my married name. I told my children that the desire to take back my maiden name had nothing to do with them or that I was slamming them. It had everything to do with being stuck with a name that held nothing but heartache for me.

My dad was an honorable man. He loved my mom and his six children. He did whatever it took to support us. He even let my mom teach for a year in the bottom of the Grand Canyon while he finished raising my younger brother and sister in Phoenix. That’s love. My ex-husband didn’t know how to love anyone but himself and even that’s doubtful.

I had no qualms about taking back my maiden name. When my boyfriend and I marry, I will not think twice about taking his last name. He is an honorable man like my dad was. I would be proud to have my boyfriend’s last name. I am more than proud to have my dad’s last name. What’s in a name? Honor, selflessness, love. Stay tuned . . . .