Monday Blues

Being a single parent, ex-wife of a narcissist who’s not paying what’s legally owed me and raising two college kids with anxiety on my own is hard.  My story isn’t unusual, but sometimes it feels harder to deal with than normal.  And today’s one of those days.

I feel teary.  I have the Monday Blues.  I have so much paperwork and I feel like I’m drowning in debt.  I have zero energy to deal with all the issues that emails and the post office are bringing me today.  I just want to run away and hide under the covers.  I’m not even answering the phone, unless it’s my divorce lawyer who’s evading me because I need answers that he probably doesn’t have.

My kids are both home which is great!  But there’s a big storm brewing with their dad who’s battling cancer and his family (particularly his narcissist overbearing mother) and so my kids are dealing with hurts that I can’t fix.  I hate when my kids are suffering.  And as much as I appreciate they trust in me enough to share what’s going on, I feel like I’m powerless to do more than listen and advise as best I can.  And I hate that feeling of not being able to fix things for them since they don’t deserve this narcissistic abuse.  Nobody does.

I read that astrologically there’s Mercury Retrograde and some Pisces moon thing going on.  Maybe that’s what’s bringing me down along with all the stressors.  I’m just sad today.  The world’s on my shoulders and I need a miracle.  Anyone have a spare to lend me today?

 

 

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Listen To Your Kids

I’ve been known to go off on a tangent talking with my kids – sometimes it might have even been lecturing in hopes that I could ward off any hard lessons they could encounter by being a proactive parent.  But that doesn’t always work.  Just because we parents have learned the ‘hard way’ and don’t want our kids to follow suit, it doesn’t matter.  We all have to learn our life lessons how we choose.

Sometimes you just have to learn the hard way and that’s ok even though I would have given my eyeteeth to prevent it for my kids.  But I’ve learned my lesson, the hard way, that I have to let them have their own lives and choose their decisions.  I can advise.  I can give examples.  I can role model.  I can help and…

I can listen.  But this is their life.

Listening is a lost art-form in parenting.  My parents didn’t listen to me, (generational thing?)  but I do my best to listen to my kids.  And lucky for me, they do share some things once I learned to shut my mouth and listen.

When given the safe feeling to share, kids can explain their amazing thought processes.  While those ideas may not be yours as a parent, I have often found the conclusions they’ve made in certain situations or beliefs that they hold, super interesting.  While sometimes they are hard for me to grasp, I’m grateful that my kids will explain when I ask for further detail.  We usually have a good share and will patiently listen to each other’s views and ask questions that are pertinent.

What it does more than that though is this:

It gives sacred space to feel protected while sharing which is priceless in any relationship.

Listening isn’t for the faint of heart though as sometimes we get more information than we bargained for, but that connection is crucial in parenting!  So keep listening!  And learn to keep a straight face!

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When Men Get Divorced, Why Do They Stop Paying?

Many women complain that men, after they get divorced, stop paying financially and also emotionally for their kids.  It’s like once they’re liberated from their family unit, they cut the ties irrevocably.  Maybe it’s guilt that disconnects them because they feel badly that they have chosen to leave.  Maybe it’s narcissism.  Maybe it’s depression?  Maybe the ex-wife and kids are the reminder of the failure of the marriage?  His failure as a husband?  What is it?  Do you know?  Can you shed some light on this subject for me?

And I’m not saying that all men do this, but many women have found similar issues after divorce.  Many men seem to move on quickly and find new loves, new families, make new children and leave the ‘failure’ behind them.

While I understand why they cut the ties with their wives, I don’t understand leaving their offspring.  Certainly in this day and age, children have learned that they are the collateral damage in a divorce and that the break up is between the parents.  So that leaves an open door for the dads to continue to be in their lives.  Speaking for myself, I welcomed my former husband’s interaction with our kids because they needed it.  Time and again I told them all that they all needed each other and that they loved their dad and he loved them.  And I still believe it on some soul level.  But their dad’s actions are hollow, inconsistent and sometimes downright hurtful.  And our kids suffer for it.

I dislike the phrase ‘deadbeat dad’ but for me, it’s not just the shirking of the financial responsibilities legally binding him, but also the disconnection to our kids.  It’s like he doesn’t exist in their daily lives.  He’s a memory and like a bad penny, shows up occasionally wanting attention, but when the kids reach out to him, they’re met with silence.  It’s on his terms only.  I guess that’s the narcissist way and the fallout is from that, but it makes it harder on my kids.  And I hate that.

I understand why a divorced man doesn’t want to pay his ex-wife and resists it.  The marriage is over and he feels no obligation to her.  Ok.  I don’t like that attitude, but I can try to see that point of view.  But to not pay the required financial responsibilities for your kids?  It doesn’t make any sense to me.  Sincerely.  I wish someone could please explain that mentality to me.

Can anyone give me the reason?  Please?  Because I want to understand it.  Thanks.

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Why Do We Beat Ourselves Up As Single Parents?

A sweet friend’s comment on yesterday’s blog sparked this post (thanks Elaine).  Is it just me or do all of us struggle with parenting?  I think it’s universal, but also I think that when the kids are having difficulties (bullying, anxiety, depression, fallout from their parents’ (our) divorces, etc) we are even harder on ourselves.  We beat ourselves up trying to find a way to make things better.  We can find fault in whatever we say/do that doesn’t work.  We carry the guilt of not being perfect.  We strive to have our kids enjoy a childhood free from stress/worry/anxiety/depression etc and neglect ourselves.  We forget when we’re mired in the mess of life that we have done things right in the past.  We only concentrate on what’s wrong and not what’s right.

Why, oh why do we do this to ourselves?  Because this suffering that we are experiencing isn’t fun, nor healthy for us, nor for the kids.  That I know, but it seems like it begins a vicious cycle that we have to stop.  I just don’t know how yet.  Do you?

When I get out of my own head and am feeling loved by a caring friend’s comment (again thanks Elaine), I can see the bigger picture.  I can be more of an observer in this scenario going on in our lives.  I can forgive my own self and let go of the stress a bit.  I can allow that knowing that I am doing my best to help and the kids are doing their best under the circumstances.  I can, for a little while, be with what is at this very moment without questioning.  The key here I think is to find that place of zen more often.

Single parenting isn’t for the weak.  It strengthens us in ways that we can’t even begin to imagine.  The critical piece is that we need to avoid is that it doesn’t strengthens us into cement, unfeeling, and hard-minded.  The flip side, equally as detrimental, is that it doesn’t weaken us to the point of giving up and not being there for the kids, nor for ourselves.

My friend at 50 Shades of Brave reminded me that we need  to put our own oxygen mask on first, as per the instructions on a plane.  Self-care is important.  It’s vital to we as parents, people and as human beings.

What do you think about this topic?  Have you experienced something similar?  Feel free to chat below if you want.  We’re all here together on this life journey.  I love helpful hints and I love to hear about you too.  We’re a supportive group here.  That’s my favorite part of blogging.  So thanks for being you!

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Single Parenting College Kids With Anxiety

I don’t know if it’s some planetary alignment or just plain exhaustion lately, but I’m tired.  And yes, I slipped up so I need to get back on the quit wagon.  But I did make it 10 days without smoking so that’s good.  But bad news is, with so much pressure, I caved.

Kids and their anxiety ramped up and my patience broke recently.  While I did keep my cool, I did extend some boundaries because I’m dealing with a lot financially with the ex (which they don’t know about) and I’ve had it with their blaming everyone else for their anxiety.  I know.  It’s not my finest single parenting moment.  Not that I said it to them in that way because I didn’t.  But I wanted to tell them to just do their work, study and move on.

I get that they’re diagnosed with depression and anxiety.  And I have them in therapy and now on meds.  And I’m watching out for them.  But who’s watching out for me?  Nobody.  I’m shouldering everything on my own.  And I’m exhausted – physically, mentally and emotionally.  Thank goodness I have my own therapist to talk with so that I can vent my frustrations and get advice.

But if you are a single parent and are handling kids with depression/anxiety then you know what I mean.  It’s hard work balancing everyone’s needs and knowing when to push and when to give in with patience.  And sure, there’s guilt involved because supposedly it’s all a fallout from the divorce and I’m the mom who’s divorced from their dad.  Is it just my kids or is it this generation?  Or am I such a hard-ass mother that I have no empathy?  Because I do have empathy for them, but at some point, in my unprofessional opinion, they need to step up their efforts.  I’m sorry.  Maybe I’m sounding cold or callous and I’m not really.  You know me.  I’m a big ball of mushy love and affection.  But I also won’t be blamed for them not getting their studies done, attending class or possibly not getting decent grades when they are fully capable.  Playing video games is your treat after getting your work done in my opinion.  Instead, they’re using them as procrastination/numbing out and it’s not working for me.

In my childhood, I came from a father who demanded perfection and there was no excuse to not get good grades or to do your work.  So I have a strong work ethic, although I’m not a perfectionist nor am I demanding perfection from the kids.  I just want effort made or let’s get off the college path and you can go straight to work.  Because this is a gift, this college education that I’m struggling to pay for with little help.  If you can’t appreciate it or do what’s necessary to keep it going, then let’s call it off.

That’s where I am today.  Thanks for reading.  I’m going to take a walk outside even though it’s cold here.  I think I need a breath of fresh air.

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Quit Day 6

On Valentine’s Day, I began feeling sick with a cold.  With each puff of the few cigarettes I chose to inhale, I felt that yuck.  If you’re a cigarette smoker, you may know what I mean.  The mind wants a cigarette, but the body is like what the hell are you doing?  And so you find yourself smoking one, but not enjoying it and then feeling more guilt than usual for smoking?  It’s a vicious cycle for sure.

As I was not enjoying a smoke, but still having one, I was thinking about how it was Valentine’s Day and here I was, all alone, feeling like I was starting a cold and still smoking.  Full of shame, guilt, sadness and self-loathing, I held that cigarette and thought about it.

Here I was wanting it, but not wanting it, but still hurting myself and for what?  Recently somewhere I read that problems with the lungs are due to massive amounts of grief.  Well that’s exactly where my cold is centered, in my chest and lungs along with my head.  I’ve been carrying grief for a failed marriage and all that accompanied it and in narc bait empath fashion, holding all the blame even though it wasn’t me who left and it was me who picked up the pieces and stayed the only connected parent to our kids.  So what was I mourning?

It was as if a twinkling crystal chimed in my head.  Stop mourning what you don’t have and celebrate what you do.  While it isn’t as easy as that, it was easy to not have a cigarette for the next 5 days because I was so sick.  I couldn’t even think of smoking.  And you know if you’re a smoker, that’s bad.  Because if you were like me, you’d maybe try to sneak one as you felt better.  But I couldn’t.

So today’s day 6 and while I’ve had a few more urges, I’ve resisted.  Fingers crossed.  So far, so good.  My kids know that it’s day 6 and are happy for me.  They’ve reminded me that that I could lean on the jewel if I had to smoke, but I don’t need to start that too.  I”m going to keep working on cold turkey – emphasis on cold (lame pun intended).  Enough is enough.

I’m through with feeling ashamed.  I am exhausted from worrying if I smell like smoke or if anyone will suspect – even though I’ve showered, put on clean clothing and dabbed myself with perfume.  I’m tired of scheduling my life to include safe smoke breaks when needed.  I want the freedom that comes with quitting – the freedom to be authentically Janie once again.

I quit for 20 years, but when my marriage fell apart, I began smoking again and it’s time I quit this again for good.  So wish me luck please.  I could really use some support.  Now that I’m feeling a bit better, those old feelings are sneaking in.  You know the ones that say, take a break…you deserve a smoke…you’ve been dealing with x, y and z and he hasn’t.  But so far, I think I’ll finish day 6 and pray for a good day 7.  Time will tell.  You know I’ve been in this position before…many times.  Let’s hope this one’s for good.

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It’s Galentine’s Day!

I like the idea of Galentine’s Day – a day to celebrate the lady friends in your life.  I have been lucky to have a bunch of friends (both blogging friends – YOU! and friends from all different stages in my life) to wish:

Happy Galentines’s Day!

I really love my friends and if you’re like me, you have a bunch of different friends.  The ones you share childhood memories with, the ones that you went to college with, your work friends, the Moms that you became close with when you had little kids, the gal pals that you bonded with through the divorce, the ones that are single now with you…I could go on and on!  But the fact remains that each of us in varying degrees are there for each other at different significant times in our lives.  That’s what friendship is all about!

So don’t feel badly on Valentine’s Day if you don’t have a significant other to share the love with tomorrow.  Celebrate YOU today!  Celebrate friendship!  Celebrate sisterhood!  Tell the people you love how much their friendship means to you!  And receive in kind the same love! Back at ya!

 

 

Posted in divorce, finding happiness at 50, inspiration, love | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments