Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Minus One...


The minute you're single, it seems that certain 'well-meaning' chums can't wait for an opportunity to drag out the clichés - "Plenty more fish in the sea" or "You've got to get straight back in the saddle" and my personal favourite "You're not getting any younger!" Since when has 'singlehood' been stigmatized to the point at which your nearest and dearest can't bear to think of you without some bloke hanging off your arm?!

Being 'single' isn't an illness you should be 'cured' of as soon as possible, nor does it imply you're utterly 'unlovable'. It just means that at this moment in time you're enjoying your own company, probably recovering from the trials and tribulations of a bad relationship and (for once) you're getting used to being YOU again.

If and when you decide that you're willing/able to begin searching for your next 'plus one' is entirely your own choice. Personally, at this moment in time, especially after my ex sent me stroppy texts for refusing to allow him to keep his credit cards registered at MY address three months after he moved out, Hell would need to be substantially sub-zero before I'd consider walking down that particular road again.


Thursday, 10 April 2014

Not So fast...



With your new single status and fresh enthusiasm for being 'whoever you want to be', try not to be too much all at once. While it's a really positive sign that you're focussing on moving forward with your life, and being pro-active regarding your new social life, additional work commitments, recently acquired hobbies and so forth, do bear in mind that there is still only ONE of you and unless you have a time machine stashed away in your loft there are STILL only 24 hours in any given day.

Just because you made a 'to do' list it doesn't mean that you have to 'do' it all at once, no matter how much you want to. Try to reign it in a little and actually enjoy yourself rather than indulging in some manic, whirlwind of activities that can only realistically end with you holed up in bed suffering from exhaustion a couple of months down the line.

I know it's all new and scary and exciting and that once you get to a certain age, when you have more birthdays behind you than potentially ahead of you, it's tempting to make the most of every second of every minute, of every hour.... But do try to take a moment or two out of your jam-packed schedule to savour these new experiences. You'll get far more pleasure out of it if you do.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

His Stuff...


Its unlikely that when your ex moved out he managed to take ALL of his belongings with him. Depending on individual circumstances, you'll either be making a bonfire or putting his forgotten items to one side for him (or a mutual friend who's been delegated the unenviable role of 'official liaison officer') to collect it at a later date. 

Which ever route you take, I can strongly recommend setting aside a box (or boxes) in which to put his electric toothbrush charger, odd sock, 2010 Ferrari calender and so on as and when you find them. It's far easier to deal with his 'leftovers' if they're all in one place (preferably out of sight) rather than when they're littered about in full view. The last thing you need when you're moving on with your new life is constant reminders of your past, especially when you're trying to adjust from it being "our home" to "my home".


Spring Cleaning...



When dealing with a major change of circumstances, spring cleaning your personal life gives you a good excuse to spring clean your home at the same time. Chances are that when your partner left, they took a fair amount of household stuff as well as their belongings, which can be a bit of a shock to the system if it was done in a relatively short space of time.

When I was first faced with the sight of the lounge after the filing cabinet, CD racks and so on were removed, and cupboards and drawers emptied, I was shocked and overwhelmed. I imagined this must be similar to the feelings of seeing your home the first time after a burglary. Even though you'd possibly nagged for certain items to be tidied away, the fact they've now vanished completely can be quite unsettling.

However, the good thing now is that you can actually get to all those neglected nooks and crannies in order to give them a damned good clean. I have to admit that all that dusting, hoovering, polishing and scrubbing was really quite cathartic and did help to take my mind off other things. It probably helped burn off a few extra calories too. Result!

Weight...


As a habitual comfort-eater, I'd gained several pounds over the years (ok, stones), so it's come as something as a surprise that during this highly stressful period of adjustment in later life I've actually lost a couple of inches off my lower regions. Whether it's down to the fact I've done a lot more walking in recent weeks than usual (walking is when I'm better able to think through problems), or that my new shopping list no longer contains crisps, chocolates, cheese or white bread, I can't be entirely certain. 

I'm not too bothered about the whys and wherefores, but am delighted that I can finally get my size 18, non-stretch jeans past my knees. Actually, when I cautiously tried them on last weekend they squeezed up over all the flab and cellulite (gross) and up as far as my waist! True, I had to lay on the bed to zip them up, and I couldn't sit down in them for fear of rupturing vital internal organs, but hopefully in another couple of months I'll finally be able to get rid of my chavvy old elasticated jogging bottoms. Who'd have thought it?!

Yes You Can (Sometimes)...


When unexpected technical issues arise, if you're a bit of a Luddite like myself, you might automatically flick through Yellow Pages and end up paying megabucks for some young chap to spend all of two minutes solving your problem. That's fine if you have the funds to justify the expense, but if the purse strings are a little on the tight side, and you don't have a tech-savvy friend (or friend's husband) who's willing/able to help, you have nothing much to lose by taking a look yourself (obviously being EXTREMELY careful with electricity!)

When my TV stopped working, and the message on the screen said something about having no digital signal, after having a major panic attack I decided to see if I could see what the problem was BEFORE forking out a £65 call out charge to Sky.

Hidden behind the TV cabinet was a cable, with bare wires sticking out of the end. That's not 'normal'! After switching off all the electrics I traced the cable back to the satellite dish. Ah! THAT'S why there was 'no signal'. When I looked at the back of the Sky box I could see one cable-less metal socket thingy (technical term). Must've accidently pulled it apart when I  moved the cabinet to vacuum. Unsure as to how I could fit the wire back into the socket (without blowing up the telly) I went on YouTube - voilà. Several helpful videos on exactly how to fit a Sky Cable to a connector. I must admit, I was ever-so-slightly terrified when I flicked the switch back on, but when my TV came back to life not only was I extremely relieved, I felt a smidgeon of pride in myself that I DID IT!

Monday, 7 April 2014

Get Out...



I must admit, than when well-meaning friends offered to meet me in town for coffee soon after my break-up I was thinking of every excuse under the sun to get out of it. I wasn't feeling well (I was fine). The weather was too bad (it wasn't). I have to be somewhere else (I didn't). However, there's only so long you can keep fobbing people off before they give up asking, so I bit the bullet, brushed my hair for the first time in a week, put some shoes on rather than my tatty slippers and I walked out of the front door.

Real friends will understand that you're feeling a bit 'fragile' and will happily tolerate hearing all the boring details for the 10th time because they care about you. Once you've been out into the big wide world a few times your confidence will definitely grow and what once felt a terrifying prospect will become a real pleasure.

To Do List...



This might seem like a tedious chore, and to be honest it's not exactly a barrel of laughs, but it WILL help you to focus your mind and potentially keep you from wasting your life watching daytime tv.

Obviously, Post-It notes are great, but my preferred method is a text document on my pc. Write yourself a list (or several lists) of everything you NEED to do and then everything you WANT to do. Obviously, using the pc method you can edit it without the need for tippex, and move things around as your priorities change.

The need to do list is vital as it'll contain the boring but essential tasks like getting household bills put in your name, contacting the local council for your council tax 'single-person occupancy' 25% discount, cancelling any non-essential direct debits and so on. The want to do list is where you write/type all the 'fun' things which will prevent you from becoming a hermit, such as all the people you want to have coffee with this month, local events you fancy going to and anything else that floats your boat. Just because you're now single doesn't mean you have to hide behind closed doors...quite the opposite in fact!

Money...



Chances are, that now you're living on your own you only have YOUR income to rely on for paying the bills. This, for some, will be a daunting prospect (depending on your circumstances). Even though you'll be feeling emotionally drained and very fragile, it's important to try to get to grips with creating some sort of budget as soon as humanly possible, even though it's the last thing you feel like doing. Hiding under the duvet with a bottle of Southern Comfort and multi-pack of Quavers may seem like an excellent idea, but it won't actually balance the books and may well give you the headache from hell the next morning.

Whether you prefer using the old fashioned pen & paper method, or like to create spreadsheets (or even simple text documents) on your computer, the sooner you make a list of ALL your outgoings and income the better. Chances are, the bills total might just be ever so slightly bigger than the wages one.

If so, double-check the bills list, going through it looking for anything that's not absolutely essential (gym membership you haven't used in 6 months, newspaper delivery when you've been slinging the paper in the recycle bin without reading it etc) and cancel them immediately. I was astonished to find out just how much I'd wasted over just one year on a daily newspaper that I could read online for free! When I found out just how many free channels I could get with my existing Sky box I cancelled the £20 a month contract. That's an instant saving of £240 a year! To be honest I wish I'd done it years ago.

Firsts...



When you're newly-single, it soon becomes apparent that there are an awful lot of firsts in your new life, and none are quite so overwhelming as the first time you venture into Tescos to buy 'meals-for-one'. When you've spent all of your adult life shopping for children and/or partners, it's extremely strange to no longer need certain aisles. You end up automatically in the meat section - even though you're vegetarian. You pick up men's deodorant that's on special offer and ALMOST put it in the trolley. You look at enormous boxes of cereals thinking that will last a week when in reality it'll last 6 months or more!

The best thing to do when faced with this type of situation is not to ask too much of yourself. Don't try to figure out what a 'weekly shop' for one will involve, but just get enough to tide you over for a few days. Little and often will slowly re-build your confidence, and will prevent you from bulk-buying perishables which will end up in the bin. Now is not the time to be wasting your hard earnt cash.

Not So Happy Endings...



Not So Happy Endings.

When relationships break down, for whatever reason, it’s always a difficult time for all involved. Whether it’s the knee-jerk reaction from a massive argument or the inevitable outcome of a partnership that is way past it’s sell by date, the aftermath can be a real challenge for everyone who finds themselves caught up in the crossfire. This can put friends and family members into very awkward situations, which often ends up with people taking sides. This him versus her situation is something that isn’t particularly helpful as it simply adds another unpleasant dimension to what is already something horrid. However, if both sides can remain at least civil to each other, this can help to ease the pain a little. Mud-slinging and general ongoing accusations are not helpful to anyone.

Usually, someone (or sometimes both parties) have to move out of what has been their home for probably several years. Most of the time it’s obvious who should move out but it’s not always the case, which simply adds another objectionable dimension to the whole situation.

Once the decision has been made there are numerous issues to be dealt with immediately. Someone has to pack up their belongings and find a new place to stay, and at short notice this can be quite a challenge. Friends and family may offer a bed for a few nights and a garage or shed to store things, but a long-term solution needs to be found if the displaced person is to avoid living out of boxes for any length of time. For the person leaving, it’s often much harder.

Once the person who has remained at the property is eventually alone, it will most likely hit them like a ten ton truck. They may be relieved but it’s likely that they’ll also feel shock and sadness at the breaking of emotional ties. There may be financial worries or practical concerns to deal with as well. While it’s really difficult for the person who’s moved out of their home it cannot be assumed that the person left behind has an easy ride.

For the one now home alone, keeping busy usually helps to focus the mind but it’s only a temporary fix. Manic cleaning is therapeutic for a while but when there’s nothing else to scrub the feelings of loss can no longer be suppressed. It’s better to let the emotions out sooner rather than later, even if you don’t want to, as once this period of grief is completed the ability to begin moving on is made a little bit easier.

Communication during the breaking up process, without animosity if humanly possible, is the key to relieving some of the pain, although this depends on the individual circumstances of course. On a practical level there is the need for a forwarding address for mail, unless you can agree that the other person can collect it regularly, or send a trusted friend to collect letters and parcels. For the person no longer residing at the property, there seems an unending number of people and places to inform of the change in address; from GP the surgery, to banks and insurance companies.

If children are involved there’s the complicated process of access to go through. Again, this will very much depend on individual circumstances. For situations where children are not involved there will probably still be thorny points to address. This can mean anything from payment of bills to custody of a much-loved pet.

Once the dust has settled, the tears have dried and your stomach has settled sufficiently for you to think about venturing outdoors, there’s a scary new world of firsts to contend with. The first time you walk out of the front door as a ‘single’ person after a break-up can make a familiar street feel like an unknown route. The first time in a supermarket will see you wandering down aisles that you no longer need to be in. You may feel like you’ve become a very tiny person or that everyone is staring at you. The first time back at work can feel unnerving, but a necessary evil now that there’s one less income coming in.

Whether you choose to announce recent events on social networking sites, or take the more subtle approach of explaining to a small selection of friends and family members individually, word will soon get around of your new situation. The hugs and kind words are meant to be a comfort, but even though they are well meant they can often reduce you to a flood of tears. No matter how much the break-up was needed or inevitable, your emotions will be all over the place for quite some time and you’ll need to learn to adjust to your new status.

There’s also ‘protocol’ to follow. What do you do if your recent ex’s family or close friends want to stay in touch, for example? Every situation will be different for every person, but diplomacy will be needed to avoid appearing to be treading on any toes or to prevent being accused of deliberately stirring up trouble.

When you invest a lot of time and emotion in a relationship the last thing you want is to abandon it, but sometimes you have to admit to yourself, and to the other person, that the relationship has run its course. Sometimes this will come from a particular incident while other times it happens when you both finally accept that things simply cannot continue as they are and that a decision needs to be made to prevent any further unhappiness. It’s an immensely difficult thing to admit to, that a relationship has ended, but it’s also a very merciful thing to do.

Break-ups are often acrimonious affairs which are made all the more challenging due to the event, or events, leading up to the final split. However, if both parties can be tactful and considerate to each other, this challenging experience can be made a tiny bit more bearable. This can then smooth the way towards both people being able to move on with their lives in a more positive light.