When my spouse and I split, he told me never to ask him for a dime; I haven’t, he stayed true to himself and never offered me a penny. Before I left my spouse, I did a lot and now that I’m on my own, I do it all. Freedom is expensive, and I find myself struggling financially. It’s been almost a year since I’ve been on my own. I pay all my bills and rent on time, my once-healthy savings account is dwindling and I’m nervous. I overcame my bad spending habits before I moved out but backslid when I moved into my apartment. My paid-off credit cards are maxed out again. History repeated itself and whatever I wanted at any store, I didn’t think about it, I just plopped the items in my cart. But reality set in, I was alone and on my own, with no financial help. I had to put myself on another budget. I cut back on cable and streaming. I celebrated my freedom with out-of-state travel, eating out, and entertainment.  But now, all pleasure-seeking activities are discontinued. The more I stay in, the more I save money, but I don’t want to be a recluse so when I’m out, I repeat my mantra out loud: stick to the list, needs not wants. Saving extra money is not realistic right now so my monthly goals are fixed: pay my bills, keep my budget, and do not touch my savings account.

The holidays rolled around, and I was struggling again. This time it was emotional. I felt out of sorts during November. It was a godsend when relatives invited us over for Thanksgiving. Afterward, I felt melancholy and slipped into a pattern of watching Tv all day in bed, eating junk food, and calling in sick at work. It got dark early; I lost track of time and had no energy. Christmas was two weeks away and my finances were sketchy, I hadn’t done anything to prepare and didn’t want to. I looked out the window and freaked out because there was no snow to infuse me with the Christmas spirit. Something was missing, no, a whole lot was missing. Self-care dictates getting a handle on my emotions. I got out my feelings chart and after reviewing and exploring I diagnosed myself: I was struggling with loneliness. Now it was me who longed for what was; the separation honeymoon was over.

The holidays used to mean the hustle & bustle of decorating the house, planning my menu, and shopping early for special ingredients and gifts. I miss relatives stopping by. I miss the togetherness of the whole family being home all week, snowed in. I missed putting up the tree late at night while my spouse sneaked Christmas cookies. I miss thoughtful holiday gestures, cooperation, and help. I miss Christmas shopping all day long and challenging myself to find everything on the kid’s list. Even in our dysfunction, we rallied around holidays and special occasions, together as a family. I miss the happy times. Loneliness crept in between my peace & quiet and I’m struggling with the loss of the good parts of my marriage and my family under one roof.

I asked God to help me, and He did. I got up, wrote out a list, turned Christmas music on, and put up the tree. It finally snowed and my youngest and I had a beautiful Christmas and dinner at the apartment. Some struggles can be overcome with self-control and discipline and some struggles sneak up on you and require time and contemplation. Life is full of struggles and acknowledging, accepting, understanding, and dealing with them helps me to overcome them.