Ways To Fill Your Free Time After Divorce

I think the hardest part for me after the divorce was to find a way to fill my unexpected free time.  Because when the kids see their dad occasionally, I am alone and I have nothing to do.  I had lost some friendships once the word got out that we were separated/divorced because it’s just something that happens.  For awhile there, I felt like the pariah because my marriage failed, but then I stopped that thinking because it was making me feel worse and really, it was just a story in my head.

I use the time alone for me time.  It’s like a mini-vacation.  I make sure that I don’t do anything that I don’t want to do.  In other words, I don’t clean the house.  I don’t do laundry.  I don’t use it as a catch up day for stuff for the family that has fallen by the wayside.  I GIFT MYSELF the time for ME!  There’s plenty of time to catch up when they’re back in the house.  The time alone is precious for me and I intend to enjoy it to the fullest.  And you should too!

So, here are some things that worked for me:

  1.  I read books that I always wanted to read but never really had the time – self help, romance, summer beach reading.  Anything that makes me smile and gets me away from that I’m alone feeling.
  2. I binge watched movies that made me cry, laugh and cheer when the main character succeeded.  (I’ve written about some of them in my blog in case you’re interested).  I don’t like to go to the movies alone so this is how I watch movies.
  3. I started taking bubble baths and pampering myself.  Who’s going to see me with a gooey mask on and isn’t that good for wrinkles?
  4. I began writing a blog to reach out to other people and feel supported.  Thank you to all of you who read, respond and support me with your advice and caring!
  5. I took walks in nature and learned to appreciate the beauty that surrounds me.
  6. I wrote a list of pros and cons to divorce and came to the conclusion that I’m happier now without my former husband than I was when we were together at the end of the marriage.
  7. I began to meditate a little everyday and while I’m not a church goer, I still pray, so I use that time to listen to that inner voice that speaks to me.
  8. Occasionally I just go walk around Whole Foods to pass the time and to see what new and exciting foods there are to prepare.
  9. Sometimes, I pour a glass of wine and eat cheese, crackers and some prosciutto for dinner while I watch a good movie or TV series.  I follow it up by microwaving a bag of popcorn all while in my comfy pajamas on the couch all by myself.  What a treat!
  10. When I’m in the mood, I turn up the volume and sing to all the songs that I want because I’m alone in the house.  Sometimes I even dance around because, Can’t that be called exercise?  We did that when we took Jazzercise, didn’t we? LOL
  11. I call good friends and catch up with them.
  12. I window shop for exercise (you have to walk you know!) and smile at all the people.  I’ve met some interesting people by getting out and doing this!  You know, I’m just browsing.
  13. I’ve been looking into taking a class in the fall when the kids go back to school so that I can stretch my mind.
  14. I joined a few divorce support online groups.  While I don’t really write too much, I can see how I’m not alone in all the fears, grief and in the similar situations overall which makes a difference.
  15. I’ve gone out to dinner more often with friends.
  16. I’ve met people for coffee or a drink to catch up which I never really did before when I was married because I always felt like I should be home with my husband and the kids. But when there’s nobody here but me, I can!
  17. I’ve been weeding out the surplus of stuff I had accumulated during the marriage and am letting go of what I had saved that is no longer relevant.
  18. I started CrossFit and stopped going.  😦
  19. I made a vision board and vision box (same thing, just one’s on poster board and the other’s in a box).
  20. I’m finally relaxing into having time to myself to relax, to not be rushing to put dinner on the table, to be attentive to everyone’s needs or to be scurrying to have everything perfect all the time.  That was a huge plus, but also took me a long time to work into, but I’m glad I did!
  21. I’ve had friends over spontaneously for take out and we ended up having such a great girls night because my house didn’t have anyone else in it but me,o we could talk freely!
  22. I’ve made some good friends who I knew long ago, but we reconnected because we’re both divorced now.  It’s nice to find someone to be a sounding board with because we need someone who gets it.
  23. I’m thinking of writing a book or maybe doing a class on how to get through divorce.
  24. I’d love to add an ASK JANIE section on my blog because even though I’m not a professional anything, sometimes we just need advice and maybe my words or thoughts would help someone else.
  25. I’ve decided to stop being afraid and live my life how and when I want it to be.
  26. I’m journaling to heal myself so that I can be a healthier happier me for my next chapter!

So what do you do to fill your free time?

 

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Anger And The Single Parent

Anger raised its ugly fist this weekend at our house.  I had to stay centered as chaos swirled around us.  Thank God I wasn’t the direct reason for the anger because it was freaking tense here and that’s an understatement.

I just kept telling myself to do what I could while the kids were listening and to allow them time alone to process it.  That letting go was soooo hard!  As a parent, I’m sure you get it.  I felt like we were in a tornado.  Sure, you may think I’m exaggerating, but seriously, it was that bad.

While there was no violence, the seething anger felt like it had an evil power all of its own.  I had felt it encroaching for awhile, but it blew up in mind-boggling proportions.  And of course, the fallout and healing is all on me, not on the one who has caused the escalated anger.

But as any single parent knows, it’s not easy.  We get caught up in that anger whirlwind because our story is similar.   I just kept reminding myself to not cross my story with the kids’ story because that would make an even bigger mess out of the situation.  This was about the kids and not me.

That’s when I had to bite my freaking tongue and I’m proud to say that I did.  But my tongue hurts today and has a real dent in it because I really did bite my tongue!

Dealing with it head on was what we needed.  That’s what drove me to shut my mouth and to listen and let them vent in whatever way they could.  Then I offered suggestions.  Afterwards, I let them be alone which was really hard, but they needed time to think about it.  I was always relieved when they returned to the great room to continue to talk or to give me the silent treatment.  Either way, I figured their presence was a start to healing.  So I thanked them for returning.  I felt like that was a step in the right direction.  And I watched for an opportunity to reach out to hug them because I know that helps.  Relieved, I can report that hugs were finally accepted.

Best part was by the end of the weekend, it was agreed that we will go to group therapy.  Big applause!

I woke up this morning feeling like we’d survived a nasty hurricane.  Everyone is talking even though it’s tentative.  They hugged me before they left the house today for work which was good.  Small steps.  And if I know anything, the storm will come again until they process out all of the emotions.  So I know this isn’t one and done.

But if what we experienced shows us anything, I hope it’s that together we can help each other to heal.  We are a family of three and we need to communicate even when it’s hard.  Sure, somebody can heal alone, but it’s easier, better, faster and more enjoyable when we do it together.

Have you had any similar experiences at your house?

 

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Kids Need Therapy Too

I have had enough with my kids and their anger towards my former husband, their father.  While neither will confront him with the laundry list of complaints they have about him, I am getting the brunt of their frustration and anger.  And I’m done with it.  Thank goodness they were away for almost a day with him so that I could breathe and channel inner peace before the barrage begins again when they return tonight.

I’ve suggested therapy to both of them before, but now I think I’m going to demand that they go.  Their venting is making me crazy because I am tired of staying quiet.  I think a group session is in order and I know just the therapist to book.

Often, I don’t say what I really want to about their dad because I’m trying to be respectful and allow them to have their own relationship with him without my interference.  By the way, their relationship is crumbling on its own, no thanks to me because he’s doing it all on his own.  But still.  I’ve had enough of feeling like a punching bag to their anger about him.  It was the last straw yesterday when I found out he did some sneaky financial stuff that one of the kids told me offhandedly (not realizing what it really meant).

I can’t take it.  I’m livid.  And I don’t want to alienate my kids who are suffering because they need to vent and I need information.  I’m just happy that they left the house for a day so that I could kick back and just rest in peace without the stinky anger.

I want to tell them what I think of him without restraint.  I would love to blurt out all the bullshit that I’ve been dealing with quietly over the years.  I would love to open their eyes to what he’s doing to them with his narcissism and how they aren’t crazy, it’s just his manipulation (and he’s a professional).  But I can’t because they’re hurting.  But maybe a therapist can help them to see what I am not comfortable revealing because I fear they will repeat it to him in a fit of anger that Mom said blah blah blah and he’ll lose his mind and make things even harder than they already are.  I mean, if you know a narcissist, you know they don’t handle failure or blame well.  They strike out with vengeance.  And he’s shown plenty of that over the years in not so subtle ways.  And that’s the last thing I need is for him to feel vindicated in hurting me and the kids.

Back to the drawing board…Thanks for reading.

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When Clarity Brings Divinity

I can’t even begin to tell you how much better I am feeling as I go through this process of realizing how the narcissists in my life have evolved.  I don’t blame them for being who they are and I certainly don’t blame myself for having experienced what I have through our relationships.

The clarity I have gained recently is intense and often, I have to stop in order to process the past and see what I failed to see at the time.  It’s like I feel like I have a magnetic understanding when people talk about their situations.  Clarity has brought me divinity and I want to share it with you.

Because narcissists are who they are and I beat myself up, again and again because I couldn’t logically understand them.  That’s what drove me to keep trying to get them to see how much I loved them, how connecting with our family with love was so rewarding and how blinded I was because I believed in them, even when the facts that disputed their twisted lies were right there in front of me.  But I never like to think badly about those I love, so I remained blind.  I bought their excuses and glossed it all over in my head and heart because I didn’t want to see reality.

Fool!  I have called myself over and over, but not anymore.  Oftentimes, I have despised them and myself for what I experienced with them.  However, I do not choose to maintain that distasteful hate in my heart.  It’s far better for me (and for you) to free ourselves from the patterns, the bonded story that we created as empaths.  To release and to heal with the understanding that we may have been broken by the relationship, but we have also enriched our understanding of people by the experience.

That’s taken me a long time to work through this in my life.  And please don’t believe that I have no narcs left for they are all still in my life in varying degrees.  It’s the freedom in how I choose to deal with them that brings me this peace lately.  Don’t misunderstand, they are still pulling their tricks, still lying in twisted ways, still trying to bait me, to use me for narcissistic supply and still haven’t un-clutched me from their narcissistic claws.  And probably never will.

I am surrounded still by them.  I probably always will be.  But if I can find peace in this chaos, so can you.  The truth has set me free!  And that’s when clarity brings divinity.

 

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It’s Not About You With A Narcissist

I wasted years – Y E A R S – not getting over the fact that my former husband left me.  I desperately went over our past trying to figure out when it all went wrong.  I shouldered the blame over and over for his departure.  I tried to make things right and be kind during the separation and subsequent divorce out of love and respect for him and for my kids.

I tried to put myself in his shoes, to see his side.  I tortured myself for years trying to understand him and our relationship.  I couldn’t understand how it all went wrong.  I asked him if he wanted to work on the relationship, to go to counseling, but he flatly refused.  Oh sure, he’d throw me a bone of kindness occasionally, but for the most part, he wasn’t kind and I took it as I wasn’t enough.

But I’m wiser now and I can see clearly now that the blinders are off.  I’ve been reading eye-opening books on narcissism lately that make my healing like lightning.

Because guess what?  It was never about me.  And it’s not about you either!

Looking back, I missed the signs that now shine like neon.  When he’d criticize or pick a fight, I’d resort to be emotional about it instead of looking at it logically and calling him on his error.  Even when I would speak up because I knew he was lying, he wouldn’t give up the lie and instead would change the subject over and over, confusing me with manipulation.  I would get exhausted from his illogical lies and give up.  And guess what?!  That’s what he was counting on and so he won every time.

I hated the silent treatment and would beg him to speak with me.  I’d end up blaming myself for silly stuff because in my head, that’s what he must be mad about when nothing was further from the truth.  It was simple manipulation and it worked.

I thought I could change him and help him to connect once he realized how powerfully amazing that feeling could be.  I tried all sorts of ways to help him to feel connected.  When he was in a giving mood, I’d think he was trying, but then he’d resort to disconnection and all of my hard work would have been for nothing and I’d feel defeated.  Little did I know that it was all for show because he couldn’t/wouldn’t connect.

I waited on him because for me, it was another way to show my love.  I made his special coffee complete with the foam on top every day and delivered it to him as he got out of the shower before work.  While he would say thank you, on the days that he didn’t work, there was never even so much as a cup of tea for me.  And yet, I was ever hopeful that this Sunday morning when he was up so early, that he would think about me.  Nope.  Never.

On special occasions and holidays, he was very generous.  He would give me an extravagant present to show off to everyone.  While I’m a simple girl who isn’t really into big pieces of pricey jewels, a big ostentatious bauble became the habitual gift.  It wasn’t about me and my tastes.  It was about the show, the look what I bought my wife.  And when once I asked if we could return it and maybe just take a weekend away with the money he’d just spent, he lost his mind and refused to return it.  And, then in punishment, he took the gift away from me and I never saw it again.  And I never did get that weekend away with him either.  So I learned to thank him for whatever he gave me and find gratitude instead of being mad.

When I bought him a present, it was never right.  Even when I bought exactly what he mentioned that he’d like.  So he told me that he would buy his own gifts and I could wrap them up.  I was hurt at first.  I didn’t understand because I had gotten exactly what he had said he wanted.  But it wasn’t about me.  It was about his control and a way to make me feel badly.  And a way for him to have everyone pity him because his wife couldn’t get the gift right, even when he’d told her what to get him.  Which by the way was a complete lie, but it made me feel so badly that I stayed quiet.

Because I learned not to make him look badly in public or in front of his family.  That wasn’t tolerated well.  So I sat back and let him spin lies and smiled because I knew if I didn’t, he would pick a fight at home with me later and I was too tired by then to have to tangle with his temper.

He never hit me.  Instead he utilized the silent treatment to keep me in line.  And I think that was worse than a few bumps and bruises (not that I think that is easy either).  But the mental, emotional scars don’t heal as quickly or as well as a bruise.

I know how sick that sounds from a healthy perspective.  Believe me I think he had me in his craw for much of my life.  But that time is over now.

Does any of this sound familiar to you?

 

 

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I Won’t Be Narc Bait Anymore

I was raised by narcissistic parents in addition to a narc brother.  Trained by the narcs, I am a people pleaser, a fixer and I wear my heart on my sleeve.  I love deeply.  I am an empath.  I don’t like conflict and strive for peace daily so I was perfectly suited for them.  But after learning about narcissism, I have separated myself from them all with only light contact out of necessity.  It’s lonely here, so I blog.

Growing up, I always thought I was adopted or at least I was a twin separated by birth and placed in the wrong home.  Maybe the twin piece is my groomed narc bait self vs. my authentic self, (the one who knew that this wasn’t healthy).

For years, I’ve struggled with the ups and downs, the all-encompassing love and quick turn to meanness that comes at me from all sides with the narcissists in my life.  Looking back, I can see how my former husband felt so comfortable to me and his family as well because they mirrored my own.  And so, like a tennis ball I was volleyed back and forth between them all, unknowingly being served up as narcissistic supply to each of them.

It was a really a sad day when I finally realized the truth.  I struggled for so long to be perfect and to have them all love me.  When they each turn-coated on me, in various degrees, all at different times, I suffered and one of the others would ease my pain until the next one needed a bigger fix and off I went, over the net to supply someone else.  And all the while, I felt like I was barely floating on stormy seas.

It’s a big tumultuous realization to have without help.  Healing takes on more importance along with keeping myself and my kids safe from the wolves.  I’m over the grieving of it (well, I still do occasionally).  I’m still healing and learning about myself.  I’m still letting go of the need for unconditional love from them ( because that’s an impossibility), but that has been getting steadily easier.   The caring about their lies and gossip has become less important to me as I work on staying centered and authentically me.  Again, it’s a slow process at age 50+, but I’m not giving up on me, nor am I backing down.

I still love them somewhere in my heart and I forgive as well.  But I won’t put up with any more manipulation and there’s been backlash from that which hurt a lot.  But I’m worth being authentically me, in a healthy relationship with myself and maybe someday with someone special.  In the meantime, everyday, I get a little stronger.  And you can too!

I don’t want to be narc bait for the next relationship.  So I’ve stayed single while I heal.  I feel like we attract them in droves when we stay stagnant so with eyes wide open, I am working on loving me. and staying on the lookout for the narcs in sheep’s clothing.

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Letting Go of Fixing It All

I admit.  I’m done.  The towel’s not thrown totally in, but I’m tired and fed up.  Single mom to two kids with a narcissistic former husband who manipulates and walks away from what he’s required to do by law is getting on my last nerve.  And I’ve been stressed for far too long about the whole situation.

So you know what I’ve done?

Stopped.  I stopped fixing his mess ups.  I have told the kids that I no longer clean up the messes that he leaves in his wake.  I am not responsible for his bad choices because I’ve been divorced now for over a year.  I have been burned by helping him.  I’ve been disrespected by his non-communication.  I am in debt because he refuses to pay what he owes me for the kids.  And he has shown zero gratitude for my saving his ass and his credit rating multiple times.

I have taken the high road at every turn.  But I have washed my hands of anything that has to do with him, even when it comes to the kids.  I will help the kids, but if it has anything to do with their dad, I have told them that I will advise, but I will not lift a finger to help.  I know it puts them in a hard position, but it’s not my problem.  It’s his and unfortunately, in turn, sometimes theirs.

They’re not little and it’s time for them to realize who he is.  They’re getting burned by him lately and it’s sad to witness.  But I believe they need to see him for who he is without me trying to protect them at every turn.

Former husbands with NPD with whom you still have to communicate isn’t an easy road.  I have the utmost sympathy for us all.  Maybe you’ve been in a similar spot?

 

 

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