“Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen.” ~ Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird
What is your difficulty?
I completely lost myself in 17 years of marriage. I lost my voice, my energy to stand up for myself and my authenticity.
What feelings arise?
As the years pass since my divorce, I still get angry sometimes but I also realize we both lost ourselves in our marriage, trying to make it work. At my lowest point, I just wanted to survive and be there for my two kids.
How did it affect you?
I was always trying to please my husband and it did not work. When I could not please him, the story I told myself was, “I am not good enough and nothing I do can measure up.” The sad part is that I believed that story. This story left me feeling angry, worthless and empty.
What is your part in this difficulty?
I allowed this story to happen and the longer it went on, life just became easier to simply go along, be numb, and focus what little energy I had on making sure I could emotionally support my little ones.
What are you learning about your experience?
I have learned a great deal from this experience. One of my insights has been how hard it is for people to change, especially narcissists. My greatest insight came when I realized it’s not worth sacrificing myself for another person. Being authentic is a huge undertaking! It imparts the BIG ones ~ courage, vulnerability and blatant honesty. Authenticity is one of the most profound forms of self-care that exists.
What can you shift in your thoughts or feelings?
It’s taken me a long time to find Me again and I am more authentic now than I have ever been. In this sense, the demise of my marriage and finding my true self is my greatest story changer ever. I believe my husband came into my life for this purpose and for this, I will be forever grateful.
How do you choose to work with your experience?
Today, I am fervently true to myself and accept all sides of me unconditionally, at least, most of the time. I do my best to accept people for who they truly are and not who I think they should be. I surround myself with people that love and respect me as I am and move away from those that drain my energy with negativity and falsehood or victimization. I work at venturing into each and every day, without judgment and a belief that everyone is doing their best.
How can you use what you’re learning in the future?
Life is not always full of joy and goodness. I challenge myself to fully enjoy my time as true wonder. And in times of difficulty, I also challenge myself to reconsider my story because as I grow, my story grows with me.
Jane. Seattle, WA. The United States.