10 tips on life after men: How to get yourself back on track after separation, divorce, being cheated on, or generally being dumped by the man you love
Your life has come to a standstill. For years you gave your everything to the man in your life, and now you find out he cheated, or he doesn’t love you anymore – in short – all of a sudden you find yourself alone out there, divorced, separated, without a man by your side, angry and despondent. How do you get back on your feet? How do you even begin to feel better about yourself? How do you cope with the kids – especially angry teenagers? You need a job but haven’t worked for years – what the heck now, where do you start? I hope to help you with a series of articles, of which this is the first, because this is where it starts – finding yourself and learning to like who you are before walking out there with a straight back and finding your feet in the great big world on your own.
Now you may ask yourself how the heck would I know what I’m talking about? Trust me I do. At 44 years of age I find myself a single mom of 4 kids ranging in ages of 20, 18, 11 and 7 – three girls and one boy. And I’ve been single for a while now. I went through all the motions – anger, despondency, the whole story. I, also, had to learn to like myself after spending years with a man who told me I’m useless. I also had to find out who I am, what I like, and where I want to go to from there, and I had to go out there and find a job after not working for almost six years. Plus, I had two angry (VERY in the case of my son) teenagers who suddenly found freedom from dictatorship and tried their best to try everything under the sun they weren’t allowed to try out before. Want to become your teen’s best friend? I’ll show you how but that’s another article altogether. Let’s start with you. So you feel fat, ugly, and useless? So you feel as if no one out there can ever love you again? Get real. He’s the one who lost out, not you. You’re special, you’re unique, and you have to realize that before you can do anything else. So, where to start?
1) Find out what you like (used to like maybe) and rediscover it. We all have our little things. With me, it’s writing. I write novels. I get lost in them. When our troubles started, they became my crutch. My characters became real. I got my eldest daughter (then 17) involved. It became a great bonding tool between all four of us because the kids enjoyed sharing ideas with me and getting new ideas for my novels. Anichia even joined me and wrote a few pages. The new ideas I got came mostly from her. Point is, we all have something we enjoy doing and when you’re surviving in a bad marriage you tend to forget those things. It becomes a battle to stay sane. Get back there. Maybe you liked gardening? Go for it – rediscover the garden and landscape the thing to China if that’s what you enjoy doing. Find out what you like and start doing those things. It’s great therapy and it helps you to rediscover yourself, because that’s what you need most.
2) Give yourself a makeover. I got told so many times that I’m useless. Now I agree on one thing, I’m no housewife. I’ve got my head in the clouds most of the time but I tell you this much, I know I tried my best, and I know I’m not fat, not ugly and not old. But after so long, you tend to start feeling that you are all those things – useless, fat and ugly. What did I do? I got a haircut. Simple, easy and cheap – but tell you what, it worked. I felt better. Then I went a bit further and got a tattoo. That made him mad and me real happy, not because he was angry about it, but because I walked out of that tattoo parlor bursting with pride. I’d done something that I never thought I’d have the guts to do and I felt like a new woman. Of course, I took my two teenagers and went to the pub (me for a shot of tequila and them for cokes) straight after and ended up comparing tattoos with other women like me. Great feeling. Now don’t go rushing out getting tattoos just because I said it worked for me. Maybe you need to go have a day at a spa and soak in a hot tub and have your nails done. Whatever works for you. Spoil yourself. Tell yourself you’re special, because you are.
3) Get a new hobby. What is there that you always wanted to do? Learn to play golf? Go scuba diving? Go out there and do it. Nothing’s stopping you? You might just discover something about yourself you never knew and you might make new friends. Go ahead and have fun. Life is meant to be lived, not moped.
4) Get out there and make new friends. Harder than it sounds but worth it. I had no car for a while so the kids and I had to walk everywhere. That meant I got to know a lot of new people and saw plenty new faces. Many of those people became good friends and they all supported me throughout it. Funny thing though – the friends I thought I had while I was married suddenly disappeared off the face of the earth. Be prepared for that. Those who are false will fade and the ones you make now will stay. Put your shyness down the toilet and flush it. People are nicer than you think. Go ahead and find out for yourself.
5) Take time out to spend with your kids and do things with them you always wanted to do but never had the time for. Survival rubs off on kids and pretty soon they forget to be just that – kids. Rediscover them, find out who they are and what they like, listen to their music, go for walks, take them to the park, get in the car and take them to the museum or on holiday. We did that – my son’s a surfer and he wanted to do trials so I decided to take him and make a long weekend out of it. We did that twice, and in the process we became closer than I thought we could ever be. My 20-year-old discusses absolutely everything with me – and I mean everything- and my son does pretty much the same thing. What other mother can brag about her teens trusting her like that? That’s because I involved them in my life, my decisions, my heartaches and my joys. They are my life. Your kids are your life. Make them part of yours.
6) Take long walks on your own and look around you. Discover nature and yourself Be alone now and then but not to mope and worry. Walk around, look at flowers, trees, birds – go for hikes and think about yourself and your kids and your plans and what you want out of life, where you want to be five years from now or just don’t think, just look. Pink sings a song ‘Leave me alone (I want to be lonely)’ Sometimes you have to be lonely to find yourself.
7) Get involved in the lives of people less fortunate than you. My teens were never allowed friends, not until dad left. Now, suddenly friends arrived and the house became alive. Wow! It was great! But with that I learnt that a lot of heartache out there is worse than mine – like the fourteen year old girl with the 23 year old boyfriend who got pregnant, or the 16 year old boy whose foster dad abuses him – kids who feel they have no hope. It made me sick, it made me angry and it made we want to get involved in their lives. It took the focus away from my own problems and seemed to make them less important. It helped.
8) Stay motivated and positive. You will get days were you are depressed and everything seems to drag you down. Fight it. Get up, straighten your back, take a long hot bath and tell yourself to stay positive. Not easy but worth it. Don’t allow life to get you down, get life down.
9) Put on some music (Real loud) and sing or dance your heart out. Don’t laugh but while married I forgot just how much I enjoyed Bon Jovi’s music. When my hubby left, I rediscovered it and I also discovered that my son’s music is actually not that bad. I began singing along with Linkin Park, full blast, no matter the neighbors. Despondent? No problem. I put Jon Bon Jovi on full blast and sing along at the top of my voice while cleaning the house and pretty soon I feel like a million bucks. The words of his lyrics speak to me and give me hope. Listen to “It’s My Life”; trust me – that one does me wonders. Music makes miracles.
10) Gather a few best female friends and have a night out. We did that. Rachel, myself, and a few other chicks went out to Waves, a local restaurant, and had a few drinks, a few laughs, and sang karaoke. What a night! I had to drag Rachel out by the scruff of the neck (her being in much the same position as me but more depressed) but it did us both the world of good. Word of warning – don’t get drunk (there’s nothing more disgusting that a drunk woman) and don’t get tempted into hooking up with a man who looks interested. Stay away! That night is about you not about getting laid and the next morning you’ll just wake up hating yourself. Find yourself before finding new love otherwise it’ll never work.
Hope these tips helped. That’s where I started and it’s a good place to start. I’m on my way and feeling better about myself than I’ve felt for many years. I don’t need a man I’ve got what I need. If I find someone, great. If I don’t, cool. Life’s worth living. Start doing that. Live.
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