My first year of being a divorced woman
The struggle within me to change and fix myself manifested into relationships where I was trying to fix the other person. So, I am working on being kinder to myself and creating a safe space of acceptance within me, for me.
Today is my little French Bulldog Franki’s birthday. He is 1 year old. He has added so much love to my life, and has also given me a focus during the pandemic. I took him to doggie obedience, potty trained him, and changed my schedule so I could get up early and walk him before work. It is nice to have a companion during these times, and if and when I go back to work in the office I will miss him a lot. He is the current male in my life.
As April is starting, and summer is around the corner it makes me wonder about inviting other males into my life. I stopped dating in December when the Covid cases were on the upward trend around the holidays and we went into a second lockdown. I was already kind of confused about what I wanted out of dating, and it felt like a good time to take a break and regroup.
But that was 4 months ago, and I still don’t feel ready to get back out there. I feel like I am still unwinding my emotions from my marriage, divorce, and dating men last summer. I feel vulnerable right now, in a way I haven’t felt before. Letting my guard down just when I am alone is hard enough, I am not sure I am ready to let it down with anyone else yet.
So, for now my focus is practicing my yoga, working on my meditation, reading and getting ideas about the direction that I want to go. I feel like my first year of being on my own was filled with exhilaration of being able to do exactly what I wanted to do. It feels good not to argue with anyone, or second guess myself constantly. But what I didn’t realize until recently is that the pattern I developed in order to defend and protect myself in my marriage, is still swirling deep inside of me. When I feel threatened it triggers me to go to a protective pattern, and it happens without me thinking about it. It is not a pattern that is helpful to me, or that brings me closer to the people I care about. The purpose of the pattern is to minimize my pain, not move me forward or resolve issues.
Through doing internal work, and becoming more aware of my body and thoughts, I can now tell when I am starting to shift to defensiveness. I probably don’t look any different on the outside, but inside I become very self critical. My thoughts go to obsessing about my weight, my age and how I have been rejected in the past. This internal withdrawal is my way to gain control. So, instead of defending myself verbally or through my actions I stay in the situation physically, but emotionally I am not present.
It is frustrating to have this pattern take over when I don’t want it to. It makes me feel sad and small. And if I really let myself go deep down into those feelings, it makes me feel like the little girl that I was who internalized negative behavior towards her, because she couldn’t walk away. Those feelings are scary. When I let myself just feel sad without blaming myself or trying to distract myself, I touch on a primal emotion of being that sad little girl with no one to comfort her.
When I became an adult, I distanced myself from my family but this pattern was still ingrained in me. That sad little girl was just under the surface, but I ignored her because I was scared to be overwhelmed by her. I was looking for someone to value her enough so that she would not be sad anymore. But I never did the work to heal her self destructive patterns that would be put in motion if she was hurt. My patterns that helped me cope as a child became the thing that hurt and kept me stuck as an adult.
That is why these patterns, and the relationships that trigger them are called toxic. Because your defense mechanism is not operating correctly; instead of protecting you, it hurts you. And it is all happening subconsciously as you go deeper and deeper into sadness and feeling rejected. I was in that cycle for a very long time, working so hard for those rare moments where that sadness would go away and I would feel peace. I was putting out so much effort for such a small return. But all my effort was taking me in the wrong direction though. It is like jumping into the ocean, and instead of swimming to the surface for air you swim the wrong way down towards the darkness at the bottom where there is no air. And the worse thing is, you don’t even know that you are going in the wrong direction.
Just like when I stopped drinking alcohol, there was an initial elation and burst of energy I felt from not having the toxic substance running through my body and slowing down my brain, but then the real work began of ‘what now?’ I had to adjust my life from going to happy hours, to finding other things to do with my time. And now I am in a similar situation because so much of my personal life was consumed with trying to figure out my marriage and gain validation and acceptance. It always seemed that the solution and peace was right around the corner, only for me to be let down again and again. That took a lot of energy and now that I don’t have to do that, what do I want? I know that I do eventually want a relationship again, but I don’t want to get into a relationship just to fill the void. I don’t want to fall back into a pattern because it feels comfortable when I know it is not healthy.
It is a time of self-discovery for me, but I am also feeling a little lost as I let go of my past self. My past self believed in the best in people and thought that if I put in enough effort that I could change them. My past self was idealistic and full of hope as a worked towards the vision I had of keeping my family together. In healing myself, I feel like I am letting go of that hope, which is hard. It is hard for me to just walk away and not try to make things work, but I am learning that it is not my job to fix other people or fix situations.
The struggle within me to change and fix myself manifested into relationships where I was trying to fix the other person. So, I am working on being kinder to myself and creating a safe space of acceptance within me, for me. Having this for myself will allow me to better connect with others rather than needing their approval or validation.