Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Visualizing and Patience: A Divorced Girl's Guide to Living Alone...Kind Of

Like you haven’t noticed, I’ve avoided writing for weeks. It’s not that I don’t love my blog or love talking with all of you about weight and food and all that good stuff. It’s just that I feel like I have nothing to write about, when the truth is I have a LOT to write about. I’m just afraid to put it out there. I’m afraid if I start writing, I won’t stop.

The minute I open Microsoft Word, I find a distraction, something to keep me from the keyboard. Facebook, a computer game, making a complicated recipe, texting, something…anything…to avoid writing.

Why? Well, part of it is that whole Minnesota Norwegian Lutheran anal retentiveness. Growing up, I heard, “That’s not something we talk about,” a LOT. So why write about the stuff no one wants to talk about? Oh, but wait. People DO want to talk about it. They ARE talking about it. They’re not afraid to put it out there – their pain, their heartaches, their joy. Shelley’s blogging through her mother’s surgery . Ellen’s blogging about her post-weight-loss body and acceptance and all that huge emotional stuff.  Lyn’s blogging through sickness Samuel’s blogging though his grief.
Bloggers do this all the time. They put themselves out there. Maybe not all of it, but at least the stuff they think most people can take, the stuff we have in common. I used to do that, too. All the time. You guys know that. But then I got quiet.

It’s not like I didn’t have things to write about. I mean, I made a killer hummus the other day. I lost a pound that took me three weeks to lose. I went on an awesome hike in the 50-degree muck. But it was the background noise that kept me from writing. Those paper-thin moments when things seemed so clear, and then disolved like a communion wafer on the tongue.

Then I read this: “If you don’t visualize what you want out of life, then you are at risk of other people and external circumstances influencing your life because you are not influencing it yourself.” That’s from the book “7 Habits of Highly Frugal People.” A friend sent me this link the other day.

Except for a project in a class in high school (“Where do you see yourself in 10 years?”), I’ve never visualized my life. I mean, really sat back and imagined the big picture. I’ve lived most of my life by the seat of my pants, often letting other people tell me what’s right for me, what’s wrong with me, and what I “should” do. A victim mentality, perhaps (ouch). But I really never had much of a backbone (ouch x2).

I lost weight this last time, and am keeping it off, by sheer determination. It’s probably the first thing I’ve ever done just for me. But living alone for the first time in 30 years? It’s harder than weight loss ever was.

This whole “visualizing” my life…well…that’s been the interesting part the last few months. I needed a compass and so I went to what I knew. And what I know is that, like losing weight, living alone is a lifestyle change. And when you want to incorporate change in your life, it has to become part of your life. It has to move within the fabric, the ups and downs, the scheduled and the unexpected.

I love this quote from a WW success story I read recently: “Patience is key. It took me a really long time to lose the weight. I think I became successful when I accepted that some weeks I would gain and that was OK. I didn’t let weight gain give me an excuse to throw in the towel. When I realized I didn’t have to be perfect, I was able to commit.”

Finances, weight loss, getting used to living alone…it all takes a certain degree of commitment, acceptance, and forgiveness. There is a learning curve, and with that learning curve there must be patience.

Just as I learned how to lose weight and I continue to learn how to maintain, I will learn to live alone. I will try to not let the people I don’t invite into my life to influence my thoughts or decisions.

What I visualize, at least right now, is a life not spent alone, but spent in the company of people I love and who intrigue me. I don’t mind cooking for one, it’s challenging. I like setting my own schedule. I can sit in the pain and the tears without running away…most of the time (HUGE step for me…FYI). I will read/listen to the criticism that is bound to come (that happens online…), but I will still blog about it. I’m doing my best to not be afraid.

Thanks for sticking with me. I really do love writing this blog and communicating with all of you.

29 comments:

  1. the Best thing I've ever learned is. Its okay to cry, feel pain, and grieve. its not okay on the other hand to let it over come you. Life like anything is something you control, and when you LET someone else control it(your life) it really isn't much fun. I wish that i had half as much courage as what you have. I would love to learn to lose the weight that you have. and the strength to keep it off. GOOD LUCK LYNN!!!

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  2. Even though I am now remarried, I lived alone after my divorce for several years. It does take time to get used to it, and I must say I made the most spiritual progress then; no doubt having all that time to meditate and ponder on the meaning of things. It will get better as time goes on. There will be sad moments, of course,( I used to feel sorry for myself alot) but keeping busy and involved with people is the best antidote.

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  3. I imagine you feel better already. There is something cathartic about talking about the challenges we face among friends. Pray about it. We forget to go to God with our hurts, but He wants you to come to Him.

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  4. Writing can really be cathartic - and you know,nobody actually has to read it but you!

    Although I want you to write so I can read it :D

    It is very hard to make yourself vulnerable, particularly online because you just really never know who is reading. But you cannot let others control what you have absolute control of.

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  5. Hugs Lynn, I know it's painful.

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  6. Keep up your strength and determination Lynn...you will get to where you want to be, in and with time.

    Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.
    -Jonathon Swift

    Take good care of yourself.

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  7. Expert in living alone here! I love this line "What I visualize, at least right now, is a life not spent alone, but spent in the company of people I love and who intrigue me." Yes. I spend plenty of time with wonderful people. I find myself fiercely guarding my alone time.

    Keep writing, Lynn. We love hearing your thoughts.

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  8. Ditto. Keep writing. It doesn't matter whether it's about weight loss, maintenance, finances, family, friendship,living alone or whatever. Real is real, and we all can either relate or learn something new in the process. Thanks for being brave!

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  9. I read this as a daughter whose mom did not learn to sit with herself and did not learn to feel and to grow. Mom hopped from one to the next as a means of not dealing. What a huge difference it would have made in all our lives if she had been able to be alone with herself. Better choices would have come from it.

    such a good post. hugs.

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  10. I can't tell you how I held my breath after I hit POST after writing this piece. But like you said, Lori, I cannot let others control what I can control. It WAS very cathartic to write this, and the support has been very welcomed.

    I received an email from a reader who shared a post written by the author of "The Dance," Oriah. I absolutely loved it and wanted to share it with you all. http://oriahsinvitation.blogspot.com/2010/07/scheduling-breakdown.html

    Thanks, L, for sending that.

    I'm heading to my former home today to pick up a few things and to pick up my former dog who is staying with me for a few days. I'm looking forward to his company.

    Thanks, as always, for listening :)

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  11. I'm a first time commenter, and want to commend you on your bravery in sharing. What a gift! Living alone and finding the good in it is one of the most important things an adult can do, in my opinion.

    I had to laugh at your descriptions of Minnesota reticence. I'm a transplant to the fine state. Oy.

    Best,
    Annie

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  12. Did you ever hear the line in the Dar Williams song Iowa... "Where I come from we never mean to bother, we don't like to make our passions other peoples concerns, so we walk in the world of safe people and at night we walk into our houses and burn"? Your post reminded me of that.

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  13. Such an honest and moving post. You are always so darn wise Lynn, thanks for sharing with us today. One of my parents never did well with the Sitting Alone and could learn a heck of lot from you. Always cheering from you from Scotland! :)

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  14. When I started blogging, I was doing it as a diary for myself. Even though I didn't make my blog private, I really didn't think anyone else would read. Then I got my first comment. I chose to keep my blog separate from my real life - lots of people, including my family still have no idea - but then someone I do know IRL found me. Now, each time I write, I have to decide: do I still do this for me or do I worry about what that person might think. In some ways it probably does change the tone of how I say something but in the long run, I always hope to be able to put out words that ultimately are what I need to say.

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  15. Thank you Lynn you are very brave and in order to be brave we need to be afraid.

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  16. Hugs Lynn. It is a journey and whether or not you chose to share we are all supporting you!

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  17. You truly are one of the most beautiful women I've ever encountered. This post is screaming out apologies from underneath and you truly have nothing to apologize for. You are making a huge adjustment and life carries on - sometimes with us on board, and sometimes with us dragging from behind with a rope. You've proven that you can overcome transition; you did it when losing and have lived to tell the tale. Living alone is a transition as well. You're strong enough to get through it, and I know that you know it.

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  18. I keep going back to this sentence: ..."Those paper-thin moments when things seemed so clear, and then disolved like a communion wafer on the tongue."

    I'm glad you found the freedom to write this out today... I really loved the reminder that we must influence ourSELVES, and not just let it come from others. Very thought-provoking post.

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  19. I think you are a wonderful, wonderful writer, Lynn. I divorced ten years ago, and it does take major adjustments to learn to live alone. I really like living alone now, although I do have my doggie companion and lots of friends when I want companionship.

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  20. This is such a genuine, brave post, Lynn. Coping with major changes in our lives is a process and takes a lot of patience and often times--courage.

    I know exactly what you mean about being from Minnesota. There seems to be an unwritten rule about not talking about difficult things. I was also raised that way, and sometimes I feel that I share too much in my blog. But "sucking it up" all of the time has its pitfalls too. This was a lovely post--well written and from the heart. Thanks for trusting enough to share.

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  21. When I read ---"sitting in my pain"---wow, that jumped off the page to me, Lynn! I have some major adjusting to do in my life. Of course, the weight issue is huge, but what is it that is causing me to "eat my pain" ????? Wish I lived close as I really feel we could be sisters.

    You are brave. You didn't come this far for no reason. Hang in there. I NEED you to blog about whatever you feel brave enough to put out there for us to read.

    Hugs!
    Mary

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  22. Sometimes I surprise myself at the things I put out in the blogosphere, and other times I find myself filtering what I write for my blog. I also find that the more I just let it go, the more support I see and that can be freeing. You've been through a lot, and I think you need to give yourself the grace to just be - whatever or whoever that is. Hang in there!

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  23. Wow, I love this post. I love your honesty about how hard even welcome transitions can be. Thanks for sharing your journey and how you're working out what's best for you (like adopting Sophie) as you learn to thrive while making the transition to living alone.

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  24. Lynn, I have been quietly following your blog for years now and I enjoy it so much. I had noticed that you have been quiet lately, and I can understand why. I am so glad that you are so brave to put it all out there for us to see that we are not alone in our feelings - I love that you talk about everything - not just food and weight. You are truly an amazing person with amazing stories to share. I love reading about you and your kids and grand-babies and everything. I hope you never stop!!

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  25. I have such a hard time putting the difficult stuff out there too but you know what? Its all part of the healing process and its all part of taking control of your life. For those of us who have found blogging therapeutic writing about the difficult times either in public in our blog or in a personal journal helps our souls heal. Sending big HUGS your way!

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  26. Lynn, I lived alone most of my adult life, including the period I lost weight on OPTIFAST. It was lonely at times and I know my being involved in a relationship made being on OPTIFAST easier. Living with that man now, has added a complexity to my life that has made weight maintenance a struggle. I thought it would be even easier, but it isn't.

    Embrace living alone and striving for what and WHO you want in your life.

    There are so many of us out here who are cheering you on.

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  27. Goodness yes, isn't your heart in your mouth when you push 'publish' on those posts where you put a little bit more of yourself out there than usual? But I can see that there are 26 other people here commenting on this who appreciate that you did press publish. And who appreciate that you take the time to share your wisdom with us - about so many aspects of life. So I for one am glad you found your way back to the keyboard :-)

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  28. I really do think those times spent alone are the biggest learning times for all of us. You do always know how to say things so well. I'm so far behind with my blog reading but glad I am catching up with you. I definitely do see you surrounded by people you love and love you.

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