For those of us in middle or old age, finding ourselves living alone after the end of a long-term relationship can be a bit of a challenge. Not only is there all the emotional stuff to deal with, there is also the need to start looking after ourselves, sometimes for the first time in our lives.
When the woman in your life has gone, for whatever reason, all those things she did in the kitchen and around the house are suddenly no longer secret women's business. Now they're your business; and your health and well-being depend on how well you master them. Most of us can't afford the luxury of outsourcing all or any of it, so we have to learn to do it for ourselves.
It's easy to be discouraged when you first try and work out how things work in the kitchen, especially if you've never done any cooking or food shopping. It's tempting to take the easy way out and live on takeaways. From my perspective, it's best not to go down that street.
Keep in mind that if you can boil a saucepan of water on a stove or cooktop, there are a lot of things you can drop into that boiling water and turn into a meal in minutes. I share some of the ways I use a saucepan of boiling water in the section: Cooking 4 One.
When you're doing the cleaning, remember, if it appears to be overwhelming you can always chunk it. If chunking works for project management, it will work for cleaning a house or an apartment - just do a bit at a time. That's how I do it. I break the cleaning down into manageable tasks and do them regularly. You don't have to fall in love with cleaning and keeping things in some sort of order - you simply have to do it.
I don't know anybody who loves ironing. I know I don't, and I know how to do it. My best advice is to buy shirts that don't need ironing if you can, and remember to let then dry on a hanger. Stay away from any idea that you have to iron sheets and pillowcases, or tea towels and tablecloths for that matter. If you're stuck with cotton or linen tablecloths, do yourself a favour and buy something that doesn't need ironing or use place mats.
Apart from looking after yourself physically, you need to look after yourself mentally and emotionally.
In the Sanity Savers section I share nine strategies for finding constructive ways to fill in your time and maintain your sanity. You don't have to embrace them all but I do encourage you to stay connected and to befriend yourself.
A lot of us put off doing the personal growth stuff, because we're afraid of what we'll find if we start looking 'under the hood'. I can only tell you that it's therapeutic - it's good for you - if you're prepared to spend some time doing it.
In the end, life is what you make it, so be kind to yourself and enjoy this new way of being.
The content of Living Alone is taken from the three titles in the Living Alone series: After She's Gone, Cooking4One and Sanity Savers. Although those names appear as section headings, the content of each section has been edited to remove duplication and consolidate material for the purposes of clarity.
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