When I left the father of my children, I was a broken person in so many ways. It is only now that I am fully understanding how broken and how much I have overcome.
I am still working on my voice. One of the best books I read when I was recovering was given to me by my sister, Mongo. It’s called, You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting You Greatness and Start Living and Awesome Life by Jen Sincero. It really helped me understand that I was in control of my life, of my happiness, of my success—not anyone else. Some of the things contained therein were a little hokey, but I am a capable adult and just took those parts with a grain of salt.
My mantras for 13 years included things like, “I am not good enough and I will never be good enough”, “he is miserable because I make him miserable and don’t do the things he likes the way he likes them to be done”, “I am a failure”. The (brief) relationship I had after that included those mantras and also, “I am an idiot”, “I deserve the physical repercussions for being an idiot” and “He is cheating because I am not good enough”.
My mantras have evolved.
“I am not good enough and I will never be good enough” is now: “I am good enough and I don’t have to prove that to anyone”;
“He is miserable because I make him miserable and don’t do the things he likes the way he likes them to be done” is now: “It’s not my responsibility to make anyone except myself happy”;
“I am a failure” is now: “I am a work in progress”;
“I am an idiot” is now: “I am human, I make mistakes and that’s okay”;
“I deserve the physical repercussions for being an idiot” is now: “No one is allowed to touch me without my permission”; and
“He is cheating because I am not good enough” is now: “I am enough. Anyone who treats me otherwise is not allowed in my life”.
It’s taken 18 months to get here and I only want progress moving forward. I’ve become a lot better about removing people from my life who hinder my forward progress. Seriously. I have over 200 people on my block list on Facebook :).
What I am presently struggling with is boundaries. I am really good at making my discomfort level really high in order to make other people’s discomfort level low. That’s my fault. I am responsible for my actions and I am presently in the process of learning to set boundaries with different people. I think every person I know has had a boundary created for them in my mind.
I realized I needed boundaries 6 months ago and let me tell you, having to confront someone who crosses the boundary lines you have made is NOT a fun process. People don’t like to be confined to a set of rules with regard to their relationship with another person, but if that person respects you, they will concede. If your boundaries cross theirs, though, that’s usually when the relationship has to dissolve or be modified in a way that is mutually beneficial.
I have always been so passive and agreeable in my personal relationships to exclude (mostly) work related relationships. I have tried to bring who I am at work into who I am outside of it.
I am getting better at saying, “Hey, I am not okay with this” or “This makes me uncomfortable and here is why”. I think that’s something everyone should practice. There is nothing wrong with feeling uncomfortable and it’s okay to vocalize it.
My mind is mush today, sorry if I am rambling. That’s something I still need to work on (TO THE LIST!), apologizing so much. When I saw my psychiatrist and therapist directly after I left my marriage, they both told me that along with the apologizing, I exhibited other signs of battered woman’s syndrome. I had no idea what that meant and decided I didn’t want to know at the time. I didn’t want that to somehow change my mind about leaving and/or my capability of succeeding on my own.
Okay, so BWS is a sub-category of PTSD. You will never hear me speak those words out loud. It’s not that I am ashamed, it’s just that I know people have been through a lot more traumatizing experiences than I have been through and I don’t want to compare my experiences in a way that diminishes the value of theirs.
I remember the panic, though. The fear. Lying awake at night under an open window at my mom’s house, listening to see if anyone was coming up near the house. She lives in the middle of nowhere. Any sounds were usually audible.
I was terrified he was going to come for me. That he was going to kill me and then himself. He went so far as to tell me he would. He was sicker then. This was shortly before he was hospitalized.
I haven’t forgotten the cycle of abuse, though. I haven’t forgotten how it felt—the fear, the panic, the hopelessness, the self-loathing. I make myself remember every day so I don’t repeat the same mistakes. The only way to break a cycle is to actively decide to and that’s what I have done.
The truth is, I very well may not ever be good enough for anyone. I may live out my days single and as a crotchety old spinster and I am learning how to be okay with that. It’s not my job to be good enough for anyone else. I am good enough for me.