Empowerment refers to increasing the spiritual, political, social or economic strength of individuals and communities. It often involves the empowered developing confidence in their own capacities. ~ Wikipedia
Time to set some empowerment goals…
I was married a long time. To a man who rarely earned as much as I did, worked as much as I did, or had the same level of professional success as I did. I realize now that I often took a back seat to him in other areas in order to make him feel stronger (well, I guess he IS stronger), better about himself… more manly. While there were several areas where he was clearly superior (like fixing things, building things, packing, taking care of the cars), there were other areas over which I gave him control that I could just have easily managed myself, like finances.
All of this leads me to think about developing confidence in capacities in the context of divorce.
Where have I neglected my capacities? Where can I improve my confidence?
There are some areas that I clearly have already started to take charge and surprised myself.
- I am more organized at home now. Because my STBXH worked from home a lot of the time we bacame a little lax about schedules. For instance, if we ran out of bananas on Wednesday he could run out during the day on Thursday to pick some up. I HATE shopping during the week (I pretty much hate it any time), so I’m pretty careful about making sure I get all my errands done on the weekend, and that I buy enough to get me through the week. Same thing with the garbage (see post). When he was in charge of garbage, it was typically a last-minute thing on Wednesday morning (again, this was possible due to the lack of a schedule). Because I have to be on my way at 7:30 am, I always get this done on Tuesday night. And, I figured out that if I only have one bag of garbage I really don’t need to drag the can to the curb (and then back again at night); I can just put the garbage bag out.
- I’m good with finances. I like to budget; I like to keep track of the money and where it goes. I think some of this is because I’m comfortable with technology and so much of finance management can be done online. I have to tell you, I’m not sure that I would do business with a company where I couldn’t pay the bills online. Unfortunately some of my mother’s bills don’t work that way, but you can’t have it all. I also made some smart changes like switching the phone and cell bills to be paid through a credit card so that I accrue points.
- I hate clutter. I lived with the clutter monster for so long that I just stopped seeing it, I think. The upside of my husband moving out is that he took all his crap with him, and I immediately got a taste of what it felt like to be able to walk ALL the way around the bed and not step on his piles of paper; eat at the kitchen table without moving a month of mail; or have to pick my way through the office in order to get something off the printer without killing myself.
- I don’t need to acquire stuff to feel good. I’ve been really frugal this month. I’m okay with not buying stuff. More than just tolerating it, I think I’m enjoying the challenge of making do, using things up and repurposing things I already have. I don’t know if we were buying to make up for our crappy marriage or just because that’s what we were used to doing, but I’m enjoying not buying.
- I can do things that he used to do. I may not do them as well or as quickly, but I can. I’ve done small stuff like changed all the clocks for daylight savings time (not a big deal, but I did have to climb on and off chairs, take clocks down from the wall and put them back up), emptied mouse traps (yuck – and maybe not so small), and bought enormous bags of dog food. I’ve also done bigger things like take hanging wineglass racks down. And I plan to do more – my friend Susie even gave me a cordless drill and screwdriver for Hanukkah this year.
There are also some areas where I’d like to see growth in the capacities department:
- Gardening and yard work. I have always left that to him or the lawn service we had last summer. I don’t want to pay for lawn service, so I’m going to do it myself. I don’t want to mow my huge yard, though, so I’m going to plant some ground cover to cut down on the mowing part. I’m also thinking about a small vegetable garden. I don’t have a water source in the back of the house, though, so I think I’m going to put in a rain barrel or two (and because I’m too frugal to spend so much on water when I can collect it for free).
- Small home repairs. Home Depot offers free workshops and my local high school offers classes for a reasonable cost. I’m basically creative and I do think it will be fun to learn how to do things around the house.
- Basic car maintenance. No, I am not going to fix my brakes on my driveway. I’m not even changing my own oil. But I do want to become more knowledgeable about car stuff – that was totally his department. I’ve started listening to the Car Talk guys on my local NPR station. They sound like they know what they’re talking about, and they’re pretty funny, too.
- Singles socializing. I’ve already taken some big steps. I’ve done a bunch of Meetup.com events, and I’ve developed a core group of friends who are also single with whom I can go to the movies on a Saturday afternoon. I still want to get out more, meet more new people (meaning men, too, when I’m ready), and take a few classes (improv, anyone?).
All of this is about renewed self-confidence, y’know? Every time you stretch and get out of your comfort zone a little, it feels good.
What capacities do you want to grow?