Anniversary Realizations

 

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The Mask art therapy exercise. The outside portrays what we display to others, the inside portrays what we hide from others.

 

Today is my Anniversary. My husband and I have been married for 5 years today. To say that while undergoing a divorce from the same man is indescribable. It’s raining outside and I can’t help but wonder what we would have done today. Would we have gone on a vacation together with or without the kids? Day trip? Or would his trip to his reunion next weekend have taken precedence financially?

It reminds me of how unsure I was about my value, about the value of our marriage and of our family. It’s hard work to discover my own value outside of my relationship with him. It’s an exhaustingly slow process. I still have lapses where I begin to allow those self-defeating thoughts to creep in and convince me that if a man doesn’t want me, then that means I’m unloveable. But it’s become easier to recognize and challenge those thoughts.

It’s empowering to see my worth as a single mother, as a working woman, as a therapist, a social worker, an activist, a daughter, a colleague, a friend. I’m finding people who can see my worth and who like me for who I am. I’m starting to feel more like it’s okay for me to be myself around people. I’m starting to say “eff you” to those who aren’t accepting of me, my analytical nature, my goofy personality, my laziness, my childishness.

Just two years ago, I told my therapist that I felt like a “17-year-old in a 28-year-old’s body”. She didn’t understand what that meant and I really didn’t either. Now I do. I had placed expectations on myself to display my maturity by being stoic, non-emotional, maternal, and intelligent. I felt I had to act more mature to be attractive. So, I equated my goofy sense of humor and child-like side to being childish, immature, and unattractive. I felt my worth was determined by how I presented myself to men, particularly men who were older than me (as my last two partners had been).

I’ve also been a “caretaker” for quite a bit of my life, which has something to do with my need to display maturity. It seems that I sought men who “needed” someone to take care of them. Men who had been “wronged” by the other women in their lives in some way or another.

My next step is changing this. Learning who I am, accepting who I am, and feeling free to display my “true self” to others.

 

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