I was having a chat with one of my best friends recently and they were retelling what hobbies they had put down during their long marriage for one reason or another, either it was something their spouse didn’t appreciate or want to do or they felt their time was better utilized with the family. There was regret there, wondering why they hadn’t chosen to involve their children in the hobby they had found such joy in. They felt a sincere loss of an opportunity and perhaps a denial of self in putting away that hobby.
This dear friend then asked me if there was anything that I had picked back up after my divorce that I had put away because of other responsibilities in my marriage and I struggled to find an answer. I know there are things but I don’t know if they are hobbies exactly. Sure there has been a rediscovery of photography, writing, cooking, time with friends, and other things.
As adults, wanting to make our relationship work, I know in my experience I have a tendency to lose myself in the other person’s likes and dislikes. I kind of consider it a flaw in my character. In my relationship patterns I have been more than happy to put my own passion projects and hobbies aside for the desires of my partner and it’s a pattern that I can find myself easily slipping back into. It doesn’t help that my patterns have also included choosing self centered men as long term relationship partners who were more than happy to call my hobbies a waste of time and would pout and chatter, making any attempt to indulge in my passions miserable.
In attempting to answer my friend, I looked back at what I was most grateful for in the months and first year after my divorce. I was most grateful I think for the silence. My ex husband had a very low sense of self and was constantly wanting reassurance from me that he was loved and appreciated. That can be….in a word, exhausting. Every ten minutes or so he would peek his head into where ever I was and ask “you ok? Need anything? Are you mad at me?” I had to have a perma-smile on my face at all times or he thought he’d done something wrong. I guess as a take-away, I now know how to identify someone with a deep sense of personal guilt if they are constantly looking to me for reinforcement that they are a good person.
I think of all the things I put aside for my marriage the most important was my independence and self sufficiency. I deferred to him for everything. He made every choice and decision. This was probably by design by yours truly, because in my mind it would reinforce his masculinity. In my mind, making a decision or dare I contradict one of his, would deflate his masculinity and it would mean he would dive deeper into the alcohol and depression. There was quite the vicious cycle going on there if I look back honestly.
One of my favorite personality traits I have learned about myself as I’ve been single is that I am really good at managing my own life. I make good choices and try really hard to nurture myself as well as those in my inner circle. I am proud of my personal integrity and the way I treat other people, but more importantly I’m proud of the way I treat myself. I think that is probably one of the key reasons I’m still single. I don’t want to give that up and I don’t think I’ve spent enough time on myself to ensure I won’t resume past patterns if I were to become part of a couple again.
Basically I’m still fully engulfed in the most important love affair of my life….with myself. Falling back in love with yourself is in my opinion the best thing you can do for you. To be loyal and kind to ones self is the numero uno, bestest, most important way you can provide self care for you.
Providing a calm, self loving environment for ones self after a divorce is one of the most important steps we have to make in healing from the grief of that kind of loss. Even with a death, I think the same rules apply, you must create a peaceful place for yourself where you feel calm and able to listen to your inner self. I think this is going to be key to healing after my surgery which is quickly approaching as well.
I am so glad my dear friend brought up this topic so that I could ruminate on it. It certainly has floated up into my brain bloob several times since our conversation. I am proud of the progress I’ve made since my marriage ended, but this conversation with my friend has reminded me that I’m still growing, still learning, still healing. Even though I can now look back on my divorce with less hurt, less anger and less regret, I can more and more look back on the divorce with gratitude. I enjoy my life and it’s peacefulness.
I know that my friend, as well as so many others are still in the quagmire of hurt, betrayal and sadness. I hope that my words provide a little bit of hope, a bit of a shadow of a road map for them, one that allows them to recognize that the hurt and sadness that is now isn’t going to last forever. There is an after. There is a way to grow beyond the divorce and it doesn’t have to define us. It’s part of our story, yes, but it’s a chapter. It can sometimes occupy many pages of the book, but remember it shouldn’t occupy the cover. It’s part of us, but it isn’t all of our story.
We are oh, so much more than that.