One thing I’ve learned in the past six months is something I’ve known for a very long time, but not followed; to be true to myself. I have been so lost since my divorce, I was actually lost about three years into my marriage unfortunately. When I was a child, I was extremely shy and very introverted. I read a lot of books, had few friends and really worried about what other people thought of me. I’m not sure where that began or why, but it was what it was.
Something snapped between my sophomore and junior years of high school. I was sick and tired of being teased about being stuck up and shy. I was tired of feeling bad about who I was; I rode and showed horses (and did damned well at it), was a cheerleader, in drama and choir as well as carrying AP English classes. I realized I was actually pretty accomplished and had something to offer to people, it was their judgement of me that kept them from seeing it. No, I didn’t set out to change their opinion of me, I just didn’t care if they had one anymore. So started the two years of me pushing myself to be more outgoing, talk to someone new every day. Sometimes it was in line at the grocery store, sometimes it was at school or church. No matter where I went, I at least said hello to one new person. After the first few months of having a sick feeling in my stomach just before I would say a word, it went away, and I began to smile more and found that the conversations came much more easily. I even made a few new friends!
Through my teens and early twenties, I became a bubbly, sarcastic and outgoing person. People actually wanted to hang out with me and invite me to things. When I went to college, finding friends wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, merely because I refused to worry about what they would think of me and I accepted myself for who I was. This confidence carried through and I found some very dear friends that I still have to this day.
It all changed when my mom died. I was rocked to the core. I withdrew again and began self-destructing, or at least trying to. Failed relationship after failed relationship, ostracizing family and in general being a pain in the ass. I was lucky to not become an alcoholic or get into drugs, but my strong moral foundation kept me from those things. I think it also helped watching my mother struggle with alcoholism and I knew that that was not anything I wanted to even attempt to dabble in.
Just as I was coming out of this dark time in my life, I met my ex-husband. He wanted to ‘fix’ me, and I let him. I was just coming out of my deep depression, so that bubbly, happy, sarcastic person I had lost was just starting to come back. For a long time, he was good for me. He gave me stability that I had not had in a long time and a foundation to grow from. Because of those things, I felt indebted to him and began to fashion myself after his example. I would ask his opinion on the most trivial things and follow his advice implicitly. Unfortunately, with that decision, I lost a lot of my friends, and the ones he could stand me to be around, he refused to allow to be around him or interact with them in any way. I essentially became a hermit in my marriage. I had the friends he approved of, listened to the music he listened to, and the only time I went out was when he was with me. There were no ‘girls’ nights out or much time that was just for me. When I got a horse, it became a huge fight because it took time away from him, he didn’t want to participate and would gripe constantly about the time and money spent on my ‘hobby’. I offered numerous times to just give it up, but he refused, knowing that it would surely kill our marriage because I’d resent him. Thing is, I ended up resenting him anyway because of his constant harping on me about the time, commitment, and money spent on my passion. Eventually, I ended up angry, bitter and I did everything I could to go against what he wanted, I was trying to get back to being ‘me’ again. Only this time, I had an iron fist trying to pound me down.
Now that it’s been two years since we divorced, I’m finally getting centered again. I’ve done the failed relationships thing, I hit a couple doozies along that path trying to find acceptance for sure!! I lost myself in men, repeating my bad habits learned from my ex-husband and then reeled when things ended and almost derailed a few times. The thing is, now that I’m out of that mindset, I’m seeing where I went wrong. I’d enter a relationship being my happy self, and as soon as tension started, I’d back down, retreat into my own head and try to tow the line. Problem is, most of the time, I never knew what the line was that I was trying to tow! It was imaginary and I was deliberately making myself unhappy in order to try to please someone else. I was basing my happiness and self-concept on someone else.
I realize now that doing what I was doing will NEVER work. I can’t worry about what other people think of me, I am myself, no excuses and no apologies! I have to know who I am in order to make anyone else happy. I know I can stick my foot in my mouth, I’m very familiar with the taste of the bottom of my shoe LOL. I know that I am low-maintenance, I wear jeans and t-shirts unless I have to wear something else, I’d rather wear boots than heels and I have tattoos and plans for many more. Coming out of this last relationship, I’ve realized that I can’t be embarrassed about who and what I am, and neither can the person I date. Looking back, I realize that while it didn’t seem that he was self-conscious about me, he became that way after I met his family. I don’t know if the family was an excuse to express his own concerns or if something was said that he didn’t tell me, but whatever it was, it made me seriously doubt myself, my appearance and my actions.
After I started up with this blog again and defining my life rules, I looked back at things that have happened in the past six months. Wow….was I dumb. I yet again tried to fit my round self into a square hole. I was trying to compromise when there were no parameters for a compromise to be made. There was nothing wrong in the beginning, issues were created and it all just came tumbling down. I’m coming out of this experience much stronger than I thought I ever could be. I’m able to proudly hold my head up and tell people that while I don’t have a 9-5 job, I do have a job; it is to be a full-time student and the best mom I can be. I can hold my head up high, laugh and smile and be myself. My true friends love me for me and wouldn’t change a thing. They get excited for me when I tell them about my tattoo plans and my horses. My daughter and I get invited to their family functions and I am basically creating my own little ‘family’. I don’t need to be attached at the hip to a man or rely on him to give me the confidence to do what I need to do.
I’m not completely 100% happy, I do still miss my ex daily and wish that things could have been different, but I can’t change what has happened, only my reaction to it. Every day I’m adjusting my reactions, I’m purging out people that do not support me and create their own problems to get attention. It isn’t easy, it’s necessary; for myself, my daughter and my future happiness. So, I’m back to where I need to be; working on being myself, accepting my body for it’s flaws and adorning it with art as I see fit and not worrying what people think of me. Those that matter won’t mind, those that mind, don’t matter :-)