Category Archives: My Story

Going It Alone

I am a twin.  I am introverted and in most social situations very shy.  I have had more than my share of low self esteem and self doubt.  I am a homebody who likes solo activities like reading and writing.

And yet I’ve made a discovery that I wish every shy, scared, timid woman would learn.  Something that changed me and my approach to life so drastically I hardly remember being shy.

Quite simply, I started going out alone.  Completely, totally, 100% alone.  I never would have considered eating out alone.  If I wanted dinner and didn’t want to cook I’d order takeout.  If I wanted to go to the movies or see a show I’d wait until I had someone to go with (or not go).

Then I met someone.  He was the most outgoing person I had ever met.  He would go on vacation alone, hang out in bars and talk to anyone, everyone.  We met online and the first night we met we stopped to get gas and he met someone at the gas station.  He made me realize that there was nothing wrong with doing things alone.  Without knowing it he taught me how.

The night we met we talked to more people than I’d met since I’d moved to FL.  After that one night I decided to try it on my own.  I started someplace safe – the bar at Chilis.  I sat at the bar, ordered a drink and some chips.  I talked to the bartender.  I didn’t meet anyone that night but I realized it wasn’t that hard.  It gave me the confidence to try again.

One night I was at the beach for sunset and drove by a bar.  Noticing that there were a lot of cars in the parking lot I took a deep breath and pulled in.  It was nerve wracking.  I had never been to this bar before, never mind going in alone.  I paused at the door and listened to the music being piped through the speakers.  Somehow that reassured me and I went in.  I quickly found an empty seat at the bar and sat down.  Someone was playing a guitar and singing so I ordered a drink and focused on him.  I didn’t meet anyone that night but I suddenly realized that I was actually enjoying myself.

The next night I found myself back at the beach for sunset and went back to the same bar.  I walked in a little more confidently.  I looked at the people around me more.  I made eye contact and smiled.  And someone came over to talk to me.  We talked for a while, he bought me a drink, and then someone else came up to talk to me.  I spent a couple hours there, talking to people, listening to music and in general having a great time.

I started going there once a week, sometimes more.  I found that about half the time I would meet someone, the other half of the time I would enjoy the music.  Some nights I would show up and they would have a football game playing instead of music so I left after a quick drink (although these might have actually been good nights to meet someone).

Many things happened once I started doing this.  I built self confidence.  I stood a little taller, smiled more and made eye contact more often.  I learned how to hold a conversation with a complete stranger which came in handy when I got into online dating.  My self esteem improved.  Only good came of this.  I had been so worried about being out alone – and nothing bad happened at all.  Not everyone I talked to ended up being someone I wanted to spend more time with, but each of them helped me in a way.

There is more to me than being a single mom.  I started to realize that I could be a good mother and discover who I was as an individual at the same time.

If you have never gone out alone I challenge you to spend 1 hour alone in a bar.  That’s it, no more.  Then let us know how it went in the comments.

A New Beginning

In my first post I told you that after my divorce I asked myself one question that had more of an impact on my life than I ever thought possible.  Who do I want to be?  The problem is, I had no idea who I wanted to be.  I had been a wife, mother, business analyst…but I had never thought about WHO I wanted to be.

After my divorce I made a choice.  I chose to use this as a chance for a new beginning.  Less than 12 months before the divorce was final I had moved to a new state and started a new job, but after the move I had been focused on the crisis in my marriage and with my family.  I basically had a clean slate.  I had a couple coworkers I considered friends, but otherwise I was a single mother alone in a new place.  

I have to admit, I did have moments of panic….times I was so overwhelmed with what I had before me that I could have been paralyzed with fear.  My marriage was Bad (yes, capital B…it was that BAD).  I won’t go into detail here but by the time my divorce was final I had virtually no self-esteem.  I was 60 pounds overweight and struggling with the idea of doing everything on my own.  I suddenly had a house to maintain and 2 kids to chase around.  I was exhausted and terrified.  As if that weren’t enough, several months later I was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and discovered that at least part of my exhaustion was truly medically related.  But before they could get it under control I went through a period where I could barely get out of bed, never mind mow the lawn and play with the kids.  There were days it seemed hopeless.

But in truth I was lucky.  There are so many people who have much bigger problems.  My thyroid was an issue, but it wasn’t life-threatening.  My girls were amazing and during the worst times would take care of me instead of the other way around, even though they were only 6 and 7 at the time.  I had a job that was flexible and a boss who was understanding.  I made enough to cover our bills and have a little extra every month.  I had a reliable car that would get us where we needed to go.  And I was grateful.

I decided that I was going to make a new beginning.  Who I had been up until that point was not who I wanted to be, so I chose to wipe the slate clean and start fresh.  It was like I’d picked up the Etch-A-Sketch and started over.  It was time to start drawing a picture of me as a single mom.

Who do I want to be?

Children are often asked what they want to be when they grow up.  A firefighter?  A teacher?  A doctor?  An astronaut?  Do we ask children WHO they want to be when they grow up?  Most of us grow up believing that we are defined by our career, our titles, even our marital status.  It wasn’t until my divorce that I ever thought about the person I wanted to be.

Regardless of the reason for a divorce or the level of difficulty in coming to a final agreement, divorce is life-changing.  The process of our divorce was probably about as straightforward as you could get…he kept what was his, I kept what was mine; the kids are with him when he’s here and with me when he’s not (he travels at least 50% of the time).  Ours was not an amicable divorce, but we were finished in 3 months.  That could be a record given that children and real estate were involved.  Easy, right?

Of course the final agreement is only the BEGINNING of a divorce (something I wasn’t conscious of at the time).  But that is a story for another time.

Suddenly I was a single mother.  This was uncharted territory for me.

If you choose, good things come from life-changing events.  I use the phrase “if you choose” on purpose…because what you get out of these events is, for all intents and purposes, your choice.  You may not believe that, and I’ll post about it another time, but it’s something I believe with everything I am.  Your life is the result of your choices.  So, when my divorce was final I made a choice.  I asked myself…Who do I want to be?

Here’s the problem, I had NO idea how to answer that question.  I didn’t even know where to start.  But not knowing where to start did not stop me.  I started anyway.  And I’m proud to say that today I really like who I am.  I am by no means done, however, and this is why I decided to share my experience.

I don’t have all the answers, I’m not an expert in psychology and my degrees are in Spanish and Linguistics…so in reality I am completely unqualified to give advice.  But what I can do is share what has worked for me and hope that it helps someone along the way.