I keep busy as I wait, hope, pray, and fantasize about leaving my abusive marriage. I don’t mean household chores, errands, my job, school activities, or reluctantly helping my spouse with his job. I mean, on my off days, when everything is clean and washed, it’s just me, home alone with nothing to do but dwell on my toxic marriage. I need to keep busy to settle my mind and relieve stress. I need a distraction from my loneliness. With my spouse  gone all day, I have more time on my hands. One kid is out of the house, and the other is on their way out soon. I don’t always feel like getting up, getting dressed, hopping in my car, or leaving the house to find something enjoyable to do. Leaving the house sometimes mean spending more money than I should.

It started with cleaning my closet again. I shop emotionally, a bad habit I need to break. I did the usual, keep, donate, and pitch. I kept clothes that required alterations because I had lost weight. Instead of going to a costly tailor, I bought a cheap, basic sewing machine. I took sewing in high school home economics, and my mother sewed, but that doesn’t mean I can sew, but I’ll try. I know the basics and can YouTube the rest. I surprised myself by customizing pants, jeans, and shirts. I enjoyed the process of cutting, measuring, and swapping out buttons. It was a good challenge. It kept me busy and my mind out of trouble. I felt productive. I saved money and was proud of my creative self. I hid my sewing machine from my spouse and children. I feared that if they found out, my hobby would become a chore requiring fixing their clothes. Sewing is mine and mine alone to enjoy, not something extra to add to a to-do list.

Reading keeps me busy. I prefer biographies of famous and ordinary people who do extraordinary things and overcome hardships. I stocked up on memoirs at library book sales. Biographies are easy to read, fascinating, and inspiring. Reading relaxes me and takes me out of myself to another place.  The library started out as a haven for me to run when things got ugly at home; I didn’t read, I pretended to read and cried while the pages collected my tears.  And it’s still that place sometimes, but lately I go the library, get my books I ordered and leave. Nothing is better than being home alone, curled up in my recliner, reading a good book in peace for hours.

I love the smell of fresh cut grass; a cloudy day, raindrops, sunny mornings, orange leaves rustling, and a chill in the air, all reminders of seasonal change that gives me pleasure. I love planting flowers in the yard and nurturing them. This keeps me busy from spring to fall.  I count on my flowers to respond to my voice and produce big, bold blooms. I rely on my flowers to arouse my senses with fragrance and color. I surround myself with flowerpots on my porch to dazzle me with their beauty. My roses never disappoint me with their magnificence. I get in the dirt with them, cry out to them, and thank them for being them. I focus on flowers instead of problems; tending to my flowers makes me happy, and being happy is part of the healing process. Relaxing on my flower-filled porch and browsing a good book in a mended sweater gives me joy, and reminds me to be grateful for what I do have instead of focusing on what I don’t have.