It is nearly midnight. My new, ever-so-slightly-used husband is sleeping next to me. I can hear the dog snoring and the house is totally quiet except for the occasional outburst from my 20 year old who is in the kitchen playing some game on the computer and eating pizza with his best friend. I’m sipping a weak, way-too-sweet Pina Colada as I write. It sounds peaceful, doesn’t it?
Well it’s not.
I have had a really tough couple of weeks for a variety of reasons. First of all, did you know that when you put a 54 year old hypothyroid woman on the pill she immediately gains 15 pounds of water and swells up like a balloon?
Since I have spent three difficult years losing 30 lbs that’d I’d added before my thyroid issues was diagnosed gaining 15 of it back was heartbreaking. Gaining it back the week I was to appear in court, yet again, because the state is unhappy about the ex being behind in child support was practically a death blow. I started eating carbs and staying out of the bathroom that has the scale.
I feel like a puffer fish.
It’s easy to get in that downward spiral when things are not going your way. You overlook all of the really cool stuff about your life and focus on the stuff that is really icky. Eventually you are so depressed you don’t want to even see the light of day. You’re so depressed that all of your really cool stuff ceases to matter.
Years ago I was fed up with my now-ex’s inability to make a comfortable living. I was raised in a reasonably affluent home by parents raised in the Depression so, while I knew how to be frugal, I missed things like good restaurants, new clothes, and having the electric bill paid on time so that there was light in the darkness. I remember two thoughts that stood out during those years:
- I will feel rich if I ever am able to go to a grocery store and just buy what I need without having to put stuff back.
- I will feel rich if I am ever able to have fresh flowers regularly.
Guess what? I am totally able to go to the store and buy the food I need. My husband buys me fresh roses every week. My electric bill is always paid – on time!
Now I say, I will feel rich if I could afford someone to clean house for me. It’s always something, isn’t it?
Gratitude Is Magic
Gratitude is a pretty strong key that will get you out of your mental maelstrom in mere minutes. Focusing on just one thing that you are grateful for can change everything.
How has your life changed for the better? I work hard, which I frustrating to me but the flip side of that is that I have more money. I rarely clean house anymore even though I used to be very organized and clean but the flip-side of that is that my husband doesn’t care. Coming home to a messy house and finding me in the bedroom trying to meet deadlines doesn’t faze him one bit – he just orders pizza for everyone and we move on. In the past it would have resulted in serious rolling eyes, sarcastic comments, and general grumpiness. I would have felt compelled to do everything, get it all done somehow, and be perfect.
I am very grateful that I have the freedom to be imperfect. It get’s easier as time goes on.
My children love my husband. There was very little adjustment to be done – they more or less welcomed him with open arms. One calls him “Papa”, one calls him “Dad” and the others call him by his name. It doesn’t matter because they all adore him and he is a wonderful dad to them. That’s something to be grateful for, too.
Yes - But
I can get caught up in a “yes-but” mentality.
Things are better than ever before. Yes-but I never have time with the kids anymore.
The kitchen remodel is done! Yes-but the house is a mess.
You get the idea. For every positive statement I, or someone else, makes about how cool my life is now I have a statement that negates it. It’s a habit –and one that needs to be broken. I am so used to being criticized that without the narcissist there I do it myself. I am so used to things being difficult that I focus on the things that I want to see change. Oddly enough, that just makes them worse.
Gratitude can make a difference in how you see your life. Focus on the good things.
Image Courtesy of Flickr's Creative Commons, User: Spero.Photography
Cherry Pick Your Memories
When we’ve separated from the narcissist we often toss all of the memories out with the three porn magazines we found between the mattresses. The problem with that is we forget that there were good times. If we choose just to remember the bad stuff that happened then the good stuff we want to happen will continue to evade us.
Let yourself remember the good things. There was one particular rainy day that was magical – the most romantic day of our marriage. I didn’t want to think about that so I tried to convince myself it was just more of his lies and deception. I wanted to believe it was part of his agenda.
It wasn’t. In order to get past my past I have to pick though and keep the good stuff.
Change the World
Learning to overlook the things that are less than stellar and be grateful for all of the really awesome things that have come into your life changes you. A positive outlook really does make a significant difference.
Because you respond to people differently they respond to you differently. When you learn to see setbacks an inevitable parts of life instead of part of the curse that was spoken over you by your wicked godmother at birth they are somehow easier to manage. And – it really is true. Our lives are imperfect. We experience successes and challenges, we fall down and get up, we excel and we make mistakes. However, when you’ve been married to a narcissist, someone who leaves no room for mistakes in anyone but themselves, you become conditioned to see yourself in an unforgiving light.
Stop it! Stop it now!
Focus on the Good
It will take time to change, you’ll need patience with yourself, and you will need to practice but you can learn to focus on the beauty and blessing that is in your life now. You know that shadow that feels like it’s hanging over your head? You have control of it – you can make it disappear.
Maybe I am just talking to me today, but if you are bent under a burden of frustration, depression, and despair like I am right now maybe, just maybe, we both need to take a deep breath and look at all of the really amazing things that are going right.
Compare things now to how they were when every part of your life was controlled by the narcissist. No matter how bad things might seem you can find peace in knowing that you are free. Gratitude will get you there.
I hope I helped in some way, today. Remember, you really aren’t alone. You really aren’t the only one. Working together, encouraging one another, and listening to one another is one of the blessings of being a part of this group! Join First Wives World today and become part of the family.
Lead Image Courtesy of Flickr's Creative Commons, User: Georgie Pauwels