el burro from team effort asked in a comment on one of my recent posts, in response to my rather grand declaration of finally living a true life, what sorts of decisons i had made in the past in the name of being true to myself and listening to my inner voice? in lieu of filling up a whole comment box i decided to make my respnse a post. I didn't want to answer such a seemingly straight forward question with brevity, as the question itself touches on some of the most important decisions i have made in my life and some of the most painful gut-wrenching and difficult periods in it. i figured that a post was a great way of working it through. I havent ever really consolidated it all like this so , hang on for the ride...
I think what i'd had in mind when i wrote that, was the decision i'd made to leave a relationship of 16 years, one that had seen me change from a teenager to adult, taken me through 7 and a half university degrees (between the two of us) miscarriages, a mortgage, home renovations, 2 homebirths and my partners diagnosis with a personality disorder and the daily grind in between. It was the hardest thing i have ever done and i think after facing all that the experience threw at me, nothing, bar something happenning to one of my kids, will ever match the confusion and pain of the years it took to finally break free. I had been living with the knowledge for a few years that i was partnered with a man i no longer respected and one whe never really respected me;our core values were so different. Respect i have learnt is for me the No.1 factor to maintaining love.
So, after honestly assessing my feelings (that feeling of dread in my gut when i came home every day just wouldnt go away) and quite a bit of counselling(which took years) i determined that i would rather be dead than continue living as i was; not a good place to be if you have kids. I didnt want to role model for my girls a negative relationship; i would want them to leave an unhappy relationship so why wasnt i? My mother snarked at my step dad for years and i didnt want that for them. My then-husband was of the opinion that i just wasnt trying enough to be happy, that any relationship could be made to work and i went along with this idea for years, believing that if i could just try and look at things differently, accept, give up my expectations and values then we could make it work. well, it worked for him but i was miserable. Id given up every value that was dear to me along the way to making the relationship 'work'. I read a life changing book, 'Too good to leave, too bad to stay' and it gave me the clarity of mind that i needed amidst all the confusion and doubt that leaving was perhaps not the answer to my situation and that i just had to work on myself a bit more, that i was just too controlling, picky...you getting the picture? Light bulb moment, i was in an emotionally abusive relationship with a man with borderline personality disorder; a mysogynist, a controller, a passive agressive, a crazy maker. Now i understood what his psychiatrist meant when he'd said my husband was 'borderline'; it was actually a diagnosis not just borderline to having a problem! So, inspite of my fear, 'feel the fear and do it anyway', i leapt.
Helping me leap was a process of self discovery that i had determined to do along the way; there was no way i was going to shatter the lives of 2 little girls and turn my own upside down without being sure that i was being and living as honestly and with as much integrity as possible. I wasnt going to waste this chance i had. I actually wrote out a life plan for myself listing all the things i had ever wanted; for myself, for my children and for a relationship. I 'drew' a picture of what i wanted my life to look like, inside and out, in as much detail as i could manage. I had pages of my dream life on paper and when ever i doubted the decision i had made, i read it and read it, affirming that i had done the right thing, that these needs of mine were leigitimate and i deserved a good life, to be loved and to love. I determined to give more, be more, laugh more, accept more, to just be 'bigger'. So every decision i have made since leaving that past relationship has been in broad accordance with my life sketch that id done; i'd remembered a quote i'd read and took it to heart; 'if you dont know where you're headed, you'll never get there'. So i determined to know were i was headed.
I gave myself permission to live 'like a man' for a while; had relationships just for fun, drank to much, came home late (when the kids were at their dads!)fell in lust, had my heart broken, all while i took stock of myself. When i met a man with all the qualities and characteristics i had 'listed' as important in a partner and who accepted me and encouraged me to live in accordance with my values; respected me, i just figured what the hey, dont look a gift horse and all that and so when he asked me to marry him, i waited a year and then i leapt with my eyes open. Ive been living the dream for the last 4 years.