Becoming the best version of yourself

Bring On The Legos – – –

Continuing with excerpts from the book “With or Without a Man” by Karen Gail Lewis, I’ve moved on to Chapter 3, page 38 focusing on the section:  “Building A Single World”.

In the same way a couple has to build a married life, a single woman has to build a single life.  As formerly married women return to being single, they all need to develop a world that reflects the values and lifestyles of their adulthood, and that meets their needs for a rich and satisfying life – with or without a man.

What does it mean to build a single world?  It means you don’t put your life on hold until there is a man.  It means you don’t have control over making an emotionally available man appear, but you can take control of the tools available to you and design the best life you can for yourself.  It means accepting that life may not be exactly as you would have wished, but that’s true for most people – even married women!  It means no waiting, no dangling.  It means no self-blame because you have not met a man YOU want to marry.”

The author suggests you ask yourself the questions:  “What is is I want?  What is it I need to make my life as fulfilling as possible now?

In my opinion, those are tough questions all people need to ask themselves but for we single women – we’re the only ones making those decisions that determine our path into our future.

For me it was a new feeling, being able to determine what it was that I wanted to do with my life.  I’d gone from being a daughter, to a wife, to a mother with no time to really explore my dreams or what I wanted to be when I “grow up”.  It’s almost like a gift to now be able to make those decisions and set goals to reach my dreams.  I went from doing what my father told me was “right”, to doing what my spouse told me was “expected”, to having a whole new world open up in front of me.

Scary?  Yes.   Easy?  No!  I wasn’t sure when I was first divorced that I had the building tools available to create a new and satisfying life.  Once you can let go of the thought that you HAVE to have a man to make your life “whole”, an array of possibilities can open up before you.  I tried to never rush into any major decisions when I was first on my own, but something so little as being able to choose your own flavor of toothpaste can have a surprisingly uplifting effect on your life!

Building a single world doesn’t mean making a commitment to being single.  It means making a commitment to enjoying your life in the present.”

So for me, I’m going to take each day one lego piece at a time, and build a firm foundation on which to launch my new life from – the new me.  Get ready world, because like it or not, here I come!

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Cliff Notes – Hitting the Highlights – – –

A while back I recommended what I thought was a good “read”.   I promised to share some of the highlights of that book here with you all.  I didn’t forget you, or the promised highlights, I’ve just been doing some traveling and entertaining of family and friends and I got distracted!!  But I’m back!!  So here we go!

The book I’m referring to is authored by Karen Gail Lewis and is entitled “With or Without a Man, Single Women Taking Control of Their Lives”.  I hope you’ve had a chance to read it but if not, I’ll be sharing some of the things that really grabbed my attention.  Some of her thoughts just really hit home.  Today I’ll share with your a section from Chapter 2, page 25 – The Downward Spiral.

The author shares with us how one event that upset her, starts her remembering other such events (no relation), that result in a real pity party.  Quoting,

     “I was on a downward spiral, a condition that is sneaky, creeping up on you before you realize it.  It may last only a few minutes or half an hour, but it feels like an unstoppable slide.  It may start when you feel bad about an event over which you have no control.  Feeling helpless at not being able to change the outcome leads to vulnerability.  Once it starts, you slide down and down in a dizzying swirl of self-loathing and self-blame.

     As in the game of dominoes, the way you feel in one situation triggers off memories of other situations where you had the same feeling.  You feel vulnerable, as if  your whole life is out of control.  The dizzying swirl continues until you find yourself taking responsibility for all the bad things that have ever happened to you.  When you’re feeling helpless and hopeless, you may hit the bottom point of the spiral, which for single women often is their lack of a man.

     . . .  As you can imagine, by this point I was feeling incredibly disgusted with myself, a total failure in everything in life!”

Boy do I recognize that feeling.  When I’m having a particularly down day, one thing does tend to set off another memory, then another, till I’m pretty much convinced that everything bad that has ever happened to me is totally my fault.  I hate feeling stupid, and one of the ways my “ex” kept me “down” was by always letting me know that I was.

Now that I’ve been on my own for almost 7 years (since he walked out on me), I’m realizing that making me feel stupid and unworthy was just his way of trying to make himself feel more powerful and in control.  Controlling people have to put you down in order to raise themselves up.  I’ve now learned that not only am I not stupid, I’m pretty darned capable of taking care of myself and doing a darned fine job of it.

I no longer blame myself for being alone; it was not something that I wanted at this point in my life but it’s not a guilty verdict because I did something horribly wrong.   We just need a plan to stop that downward spiral when it starts.  For me it’s surrounding myself with family and friends that I know care about me.  If you’re sitting at home alone and feeling vulnerable get outside, take a walk, call a friend, write a journal, watch a funny movie, take a bubble bath and listen to your favorite songs, learn to meditate, adopt a shelter pet, volunteer or do outreach for those really in need.

Refuse to let yourself be pulled down.  I liken it to a draining sink where the water swirls and spirals down the drain.  Grab the sink stopper and stop the spiral.  Fill up your sink with clean, fresh, healing waters and let the pity party float away.    You are not a failure, you are worthy of happiness and good things and you just need to learn how to love yourself again.

I know it’s not easy, and for me it almost always hits at night when the lights are off, I’m really exhausted from a full day and the bad thoughts start to sneak in.  Snuggling into a pillow is just not the same as the warmth of a human being next to you.   However, it’s happening much less now, and the spirals seems to be further apart in frequency and I accept that the healing has no specific “end date”.  I remain always and ever hopeful and try to count the blessings in my life.  I know I’m not alone, and neither are you . . .


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