Sunday, January 31, 2010

A few weeks after asking me for a divorce, my ex handed me a piece of paper. On it was a list of things I could do to “improve” myself in order for him to consider staying with me. They ranged from losing weight to getting hair and nails done regularly to being more supportive of his needs. As I read through the list the mixture of emotions I felt (anger, disbelief, shame) turned into something I did not expect: clarity and determination.

 The clarity that came was that there was some truth in the list, as much as it hurt to read. My life at that point was filled with doing or catering to others and I was neglecting myself. Oh, I wasn’t overweight or a slob or a cold unfeeling wife. But I was putting my kids, my husband, work, friends first in order to fill the growing emptiness I felt inside - or at least disguise it so I could continue in my comfort zone. Something else I realized was that I could do everything on that list, and I would *still* be unhappy, even if my spouse got back an older model of the ditzy-blonde he married. Suddenly my head-stuck-in-sand strategy seemed silly and overplayed.

Determination happened almost instantly. You read the clichés about it in novels, how the hero sets his jaw, faces the maelstrom and just overcomes every mental or physical obstacle. Well, the heavens didn’t open up and the theme to “300” didn’t switch on in my head, but I knew that the only person I could blame for my unhappiness AND expect results from was me. I wasn’t planning on backing out of the divorce; I had wasted too much time clinging to a marriage that never really was there anyway.

It was an uncomfortable to take stock of the person I was but I did know that if I was going to be a single person again, I couldn’t avoid it. I ran through all my bad habits and unattractive traits: the procrastination, the hesitancy to broaden my small circle of friends, the avoidance of doing anything FUN. Oh boy!! What an eye-opener! What struck me was that when I was younger, I was the complete opposite. Was it too late to change? To make myself the person *I* wanted to be?

Like every journey, this trip down self-discovery lane started with a few steps. I carved out time in my life just for me. Joined a gym, stopped turning down invites to social events, and yes… even became a huge fan of manicures/pedicures. I stopped trying to fix everyone else and concentrated on myself. It felt selfish at first (and the ex never hesitated to point that out, even though my dedication to my children and my job never wavered) but I could feel myself getting stronger on the inside as well as the outside. As time passed, I felt like the person I was presenting to the world was the true me - flaws and all - but at least authentic.

No comments:

Post a Comment