As of Tuesday, I will have been divorced for a full year. It’s pretty surreal. It feels simultaneously much shorter and much longer a time than that.
It’s been quite a year, filled with a bunch of dating (yay, Tinder!) and learning how to be by myself again. Admittedly, I’m still working on the latter.
I get antsy when I’m alone too much (probably because I’m home all day for my job) and I want to go out more. Though I don’t necessarily want the bills that will stem from that, so it’s an ongoing balancing act.
Still, I get bored just watching TV or reading. I crave interaction with people — over and above the folks I see/the cashiers I talk to when I run errands. The week of Thanksgiving, I spent four straight days completely by myself, and it was downright lonely. Which isn’t good for my mental health.
But overall, I think I’ve adjusted pretty well, which is a good thing, since the divorce was my idea and mine alone.
On my own
Frankly, I’ve been having a grand old time being divorced. Not just because of all the dating young guys — though that definitely added to the fun. It’s been great to be by myself and be emotionally stable for the first time in my life.
One thing Tim did do — and for which I’m forever grateful — is force me to go back to a psychiatric nurse to get reevaluated. That’s when we found out I have Bipolar II disorder, and the change in meds made a world of difference.
And it turns out that having one less person to worry about made those drugs work even better!
And of course this is the first time I’ve ever been financially stable as a single adult. As you may recall, I spent my 20s struggling to find work I could do to support myself and eventually went on disability, which is where I was financially when I met Tim: living on $700 a month with $550 rent.
Now I have a very healthy salary, and I’ve been able to sock away a lot of money this year into retirement accounts. In fact, I’m set to max out my SEP this year, which means I’ll have put away about $20,000 toward retirement this year (between it and my Roth).
That’s hard for me to wrap my head around.
Being generous (sorta) with myself
Meanwhile, I’m learning to indulge myself (within reason) by not imposing too strict a budget, though I obviously still want to live somewhat leanly. Specifically, I want to make sure I can live on under $40,000 a year in case that’s all I have in retirement (while having an aging house/ appliances).
Still, I’m being less draconian than I felt like I had to be when Tim and I were together. Then, the rest of our expenses were so high, I felt like we couldn’t afford to go out and do things.
Now I’m allowing myself about $100 a month to go out with friends (though last month I severely busted that). Of course, I hope I don’t spend the whole amount every month, but I’m giving myself permission to enjoy myself. Plus I’m allowing some money to eat out at trivia (gotta support the bar, as my readers once drilled into me). And some money for weekly takeout.
All together, it’s far more than I’m necessarily comfortable with — about $225 a month all told — but I’m trying to give myself rein to enjoy the present a bit more and not always be living for the future.
Similarly, I’m now back to getting a massage each month, though I get it at a discounted rate of $50. I have the option for a second massage a month at $40, so I may even indulge in that sometimes. (Like this month, for example, because my neck is really bad lately.)
Who I am
But budget aside, I guess I just feel like I’m finally finding myself. I spent so long — 12 years, but who’s counting? — taking someone else’s tastes and hobbies into account, learning about things I wasn’t necessarily interested in (comic books, for example).
Now I can focus on figuring out what stuff I like to do, what my tastes are independent of someone else’s aesthetics. I can focus on the things I like to do, the shows I want to watch, etc.
It’s hard to know who you really are when you’re — or it at least when it seems like you’re — mainly responsible for someone else’s needs and wants. It’s great not having to take someone else into account when making decisions, whether it’s about finances or furniture.
My money is finally free
And it’s doubly great not having some of the major expenses of a second person around, especially one with chronic conditions. As you may recall, we were spending $600 a month on alternative therapies alone — and for quite a while another $200 on massages each month.
I understand that he couldn’t help these expenses (well, he was a little over-reliant on the alternative therapies and probably could have cut down on those), but they were a major drain on the finances and, therefore, my mental health. Then there were all of the wants and the daily fast food because he wouldn’t try cooking (and I didn’t have the spoons to do it myself).
Admittedly, I do still worry about Tim from time to time, but I’m getting better at cutting that train of thought off when it starts to creep in. He’s an adult and, whether he believes it or not, he can take care of himself.
Getting things done
So yeah I’m learning to focus just on myself. I’ve been better able to keep up with my own health care. I’ve been less prone to waiting until the last minute to fill prescriptions. In general, I’ve just been taking care of myself better.
I’ve also been keeping the house a bit tidier. Chores don’t stress me out as much. (Though I still hate cleaning the shower stall. So much surface area to wipe down!) Errands are much easier to run too. In fact, my energy is just better overall.
And I’ve been better about blogging too. I’m no longer casting around last minute for something to write about. In fact, I’m even ahead a bit, having a few posts more or less ready to go at any given time.
Without the distraction of a whole other person’s needs, I have more time and mental energy to focus on the site, and I think it shows in the posting schedule and quality/content of the posts.
Not all fun and games
I did have to coordinate with Tim to get his name off the car title and off the house deed. That required us to go to a notary and file some paperwork, which was awkward.
Especially because he was mad about the I’m Divorced posts, which he felt were too one-sided. Which… I mean… They’re from my viewpoint. But also I felt I was pretty good about pointing out places where I stood to take some of the blame. So I think I was pretty fair. But still I didn’t love having hurt his feelings.
Also, it was a long, frustrating process to get his name off the mortgage. I essentially went through the same process of applying for a new loan (just with the same rate promised), which meant a ton of paperwork since I was self-employed. And printing out bank statements (and I have a zillion accounts) on two different occasions because the process took so long that they needed updated balances. It ended up taking around four months of back and forth to get it all settled. Ugh.
But it’s all done and settled now, thankfully.
Still, all in all it’s been a great year for me, filled with growth and discovery. And lots of dating young, cute guys. Let’s not forget that.
So happy divorce-aversary to me!
Anyone almost as excited about my divorce-aversary as me?