Be Good to Yourself!

“My only advice is to stay aware, listen carefully, and yell for help if you need it.”

Judy Blume in Believing in Ourselves: The Wisdom of Women, Ed. by Susan Feuer


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My friend Marilyn buys flowers at Trader Joe’s every other week (They last 2 weeks) and places them in a vase by her front door. The bouquet greets her every day after work. She says, “I’m worth it!” (The flowers cost $6.00.) My friend Rhoda once commented on the beautiful music playing in the car that Richard Gere drove with Julia Roberts in the movie Pretty Women.  She asked herself, “Why can’t I have beautiful music playing in my car, too?” Why can’t we?

When I separated from my first husband, my friend Jo told me to be good to myself. I wasn’t even quite sure what that meant.  I used to feel guilty reading a novel in the middle of the day.  I held down three jobs when my ex didn’t have to pay alimony for one year. I applied for food stamps so my daughter and I could eat. What did it mean to be good to myself?

 

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Over time I learned to value myself as a person.  I was a hard worker and good (not perfect!) parent. When I began to earn “real” money as a freelance editor for student papers, I was elated.  The first time a student put cash in my hand for a job I had completed, I thought, “This is ALL mine! I can spend it however I wish.”

When faced with divorce, I often felt not good enough, because I “failed” to make our marriage work.  Now I am learning to forgive myself for not being perfect, and even to forgive my ex for being a jerk. (He’s still a jerk, but he can’t seem to help it!) Spending too much time in anger only hurts you, not your former mate.

Friends are important, especially at this time, and especially other women who have survived their divorce. I still see my therapist who helped me once I was divorced and financially devastated.  At one point, she treated me gratis and her fee was low enough that I could afford it at least once or twice each month.

Finds what works for you and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.  If you need a lawyer, there are less expensive lawyers through the state.  My lawyer allowed me to pay him over time.  As the quote above by Judy Blume says, “Yell for help if you need it!”

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Below is a poem I wrote not too long after my divorce (January 1993), when I was “still bleeding,” as someone said.

Solo Dance

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Being single, both Mom & Pop; juggling three jobs, never on top

What’s worse than this is to lose your bliss

In a marriage gone sour, in pain by the hour.

 Dancing on waves, no easy task. I smile with my mouth; I wear my mask.

I struggle each day and through the night. But I won’t give up; I need to fight.

 Little by little, I’ll find my way; dancing on air, I love to sway.

Give up the pain and let it go; only then will I know, I know

 That losing control doesn’t mean losing my mind. If I just let go, I know I’ll find

What I want and what I need—A loving family of every creed.

 So dance with my or I’ll dance alone. Life’s my partner, a steady tone!

 

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