Feelings surrounding the ending of a marriage are similar to a grief process that one goes through when someone or something dies. However, any comparison with a death always breaks down for me whenever I got to the part where I am supposed to ‘integrate’ my loss by ‘holding on’ to happy memories and pride in the former relationship. That is because my memories have become confusing for me as to whether they happy, sad, or painful. Was everything that I previously held dear, a facade?
Recently I read a book on bereavement that described the situation where the one left behind had loved the dead person and yet had been treated poorly by them. In situations such as this, often the surviving ‘victim’ continually sees history through the other person’s eyes. In the book, the author suggests to ‘rewrite history’; and for the victim to go back over their life and to see everything through their own eyes.
The action of my husband suddenly leaving me, combined with the fact he then went on a tirade of running me down, markedly weakened my self-esteem. Whilst I have never believed I am worthless, it has been inevitable that some of the mud has stuck. In particular there are voices inside me that keep saying ‘you are not good enough’, ‘you could have done better’, ‘who you are and what you do is of no value’, ‘you do not deserve respect’ and all that is because ‘you do not matter’.
After reading the book, I realised some of that ‘mud’ was seeing things through his eyes, hearing his voice and not believing I mattered enough to put my own viewpoint across. I decided to go through the exercise suggested in the book of looking back over my life, of writing down my life through my eyes, and to leave behind his thoughts and opinions.
I relied on my memory for my early life and went through actual journals for events over the past 10 years. It was a time-consuming task. I spent the best part of a day reading and writing down events and aspects of my life. As I did, I made three remarkable discoveries.
1. I discovered that I am good enough. I always did the best I could do which was in fact in some situations a dozen times better than others could do in similar situations. What I did do and what I still do is of great value. I have made worthwhile contributions to my family, to my own self-achievements and to society. What I do, matters. As a person, I matter.
2. I realised not only was I not worthless but indeed the attitudes I had shown throughout my entire life could, given the right application, lead to great achievement. These attributes include a passion to learn; having a clear focus; hard work; a desire to be of service to others; the ability to push through self-doubt, set-backs and fatigue; and persistence.
3. My life, my marriage and my contributions to society have been successful. I am proud of what I have already achieved. I have not failed. I am proud of myself, my marriage and my family. I have happy and proud memories of what we did together as a family. Those memories are real. I will hold on to that and take that with me forever.
I will hold onto these discoveries as part of my inner core to provide me with strength.
You may ask what is so remarkable about these discoveries? What is the difference now compared to my previously written posts that spoke of my own inner strength to carve my own positive future? The difference now is I believe it. I believe it because when I looked back through my life (prior to my marriage ending), those negative voices of self-doubt did not exist. They are not my voice.
My own inner voice is one of optimism, resilience and of marching confidently forward to my own destiny.
That is the real me.