Self-Love

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Acceptance.  I’m not good at this concept.  Obviously.  If something is possible to change, then how or why would I accept that it isn’t going to change?  Quitting isn’t in my nature.  Isn’t that what we are taught as children and what we try to teach our own children?  “Never give up.”  Never giving up is the stuff of songs, inspirational news stories, books, history, and romantic movies.  Daily, we are inundated with examples of people who didn’t give up, who persevered in the face of extreme obstacles or who believed in someone or something when no one else believed.

In the world of blogging, I have made friends with other Other Women, fellow bloggers whose stories were as painful as my own.  Guess what?  Some of them have had a happy ending.  Some of those angry, betrayed, thrown away Other Women ended up with the man they love.  Those women were as angry and as hurt as I was, but their pain evaporated when they were chosen.  Not only did their pain evaporate, but they are cherished even more for not giving up!  A couple of them have become my friends, and I know that years later they’re still together and still happy.  How do I accept that I didn’t get my happy ending?  I waited longer than they waited.  I tried so hard.  I believed with all my heart.  I loved with all my heart.  How do I accept being a loser?

How do I accept that my love wasn’t good enough?  I wasn’t good enough.  How do I accept that he chose to walk away from me and stay married to a woman he claimed made him unhappy?  How bad must I be?  He said that he could never stay with her, but he did.  He said that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me.  He said he didn’t love her.  He said he loved me, but he chose her.  He said, “Wait until the kids are grown.”  Guess what?  They’ve been adults for a long time now.  He still stays, alone now in that big house with his wife, with the woman he swore would drive him insane if he was ever left alone without the kids as a buffer zone.

I have spent years turning these questions over and over in my mind.  I have shed a river of tears and endured a thousand sleepless nights.  I have prayed, and I have raged.  All of this has taken a toll on my health.  I have watched myself become a person I no longer recognize.  I am disgusted by the woman I see in the mirror.  Who is that loser who failed me?

The opposite of acceptance is despair.  I know all about despair.  Despair is the topsoil of depression, a fertile layer that grows bad thoughts and overwhelms the heart and mind.  Hopelessness is added to the pain of loss.  Despair contributes self-destructive behavior to an already messy situation.  Self-loathing sets in.  Instead of taking positive steps that would encourage healing, despair takes your hand and pulls you into a downward spiral.  How many depressed people do you know that eat properly, get enough sleep, and take great care of their health?  Despair is that demon that turns sleep into nightmares, encourages another drink at the end of a long day.  Despair whispers in your ear to take a peek at his social media accounts.  Despair has endless ways to add torment to loss, sadness, and depression.

I am no stranger to loss, and I have spent a lot of time wondering why or how I have been able to heal from losing two children or even my parents.  The loss of a child is excruciating.  It doesn’t make sense, and it’s something that no one can ever quite “get over.”  Eventually though, you learn to adjust or adapt.  A new existence replaces what life was like before such a loss, but eventually, you smile again.  Life doesn’t remain a living hell of torment.  Why haven’t I been able to adjust after losing B?  I think the answer to that question is rejection.  Rejection is something I have never had to face before.

Rejection carries with it something much deeper than a loss due to death.  Rejection is a choice.  The person I loved chose to go away, because he didn’t want to be around me anymore.  I wasn’t good enough.  I didn’t give enough or something about me was lacking.  I didn’t measure up no matter how hard I tried.  Rejections strikes at the who you are essentially as a human being.

Only you can save yourself from this hell.  You, this woman who looks in the mirror with disgust.  You, this woman you feel has fucked up the one good thing you ever had.

Learning to love myself was an entirely foreign concept.  It isn’t something I had ever given much thought.  In the past, I had learned to be comfortable with public speaking.  I had confidence in my career.  The thought of loving myself scared me.  I had read such things, and I have been given the advice, “You have to love yourself,” but I didn’t even know what that meant.  Should I send myself cards and flowers?  Take a trip?  I floundered around with the idea of loving myself for a very long time.  I was so frustrated by the concept that for a time, I hated myself even more.  Then I found the key or the secret….kindness.

One night during a during a restless, dream-filled sleep, I found myself laying alone in the dark trying to catch my breath.  In the confusing moments of trying to distinguish dream from reality, I hugged my pillow and told myself that I would be OK.  For the first time in years, I didn’t think of B or whisper his name.  My first step in healing was to reassure myself that I would be OK.  It may not sound like much, but it was like taking a giant step from a place of darkness into a place filled with light.  It was a small but profound moment for me.  There had been a surprising sense of comfort in reassuring myself.

In the past months, I have tried to build on that one moment of loving and protecting myself.  I’m trying my best to be gentle and kind…to me.  I’m taking better care of my mind and my body.  I’m spending more time enjoying and cultivating friendships.  I’ve begun to exercise again, after a three-year hiatus and a ten pound weight gain.  I’m eating more healthily, too.  I’m not doing it to be more attractive or to appeal to B.  I’m doing it for me, and it’s working.

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Memory of a Visit

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Over the years, certain unexplainable events have happened in my life.

In the seven-plus years since I met B, just when I would be ready to throw up my hands, walk away, and give up forever, something would happen to draw me back in.  Some sign would appear, or some event would happen in one of our lives, and we would reach out to each other again for support.  Time and again, I was drawn back into a relationship with B.  For most of those years, our relationship did not include sex.  An affair is an affair, though.  Whether it be a sexual or an emotional affair, don’t kid yourself.  You’re either IN, or you’re OUT.  There is no such thing as a safe place in an affair.  An emotional connection with someone who must remain hidden is damaging to everyone involved.  The sexual part of the relationship is much less important than the impact that years of lies can have on your life and the lives of the people who care about you.

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The Deception of Passion

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To drift with every passion till my soul

Is a stringed lute on which all winds can play,

Is it for this that I have given away

Mine ancient wisdom, and austere control?

– Oscar Wilde

Yesterday I worked as an emcee and on the phones at the local Easter Seals telethon.  We were introduced as “community leaders” and once again, I felt a wave of impostor syndrome wash over me.  Me, a community leader?  Something about that phrase made me pause for a moment, and I looked around at my colleagues.  I would use that term to describe all of them, but for some reason it was impossible for me to see myself in that role.  Obviously, someone had made a mistake!

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Shame

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I was going to write about the bitter ending, but I have decided against that.  It’s too private.  It’s embarrassing and shameful.  I have anonymously bared my soul and my life over the past five or six years.  While I am hidden behind the impersonal screen of my computer, the words on this blog are my own.  I own each experience.  I blame myself for every mistake.  I am stupid, gullible, a whore, a cheater.   Use whatever words you like.  Any word you can think of to criticize me, I’ve already called myself hundreds of times.  There is no glory in an affair.  There is nothing at all good about falling in love with someone who doesn’t love you in return, someone who tells you horrible, unimaginable lies.  There is nothing good about knowing that the people in your family are GOOD PEOPLE, and still not being able to be fully present for them at all times.  As hard as you try, it is impossible to deny the love that burns, scorches, and refuses to be extinguished in your heart for someone who doesn’t love you in return.  It sucks to be a foolish aging woman. Continue reading

Dangerous Waters

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All day I have tried to remember the period of friendship with B.  I had a lot of time to think today.  I drove an hour to a meeting, and the drive back took two hours due to traffic.  I thought about B.  These times alone in the car were the times when we talked on the phone with each other.  I have spent countless hours in my car with B’s voice as company.  Today I drove in silence.  B is no longer a voice on the phone to keep me company.  We’re no longer friends.

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Intersecting Paths

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Everything has changed in my life.  Everything.  I’m not even sure where to begin.  I once lived almost 200 miles away from B.  Now I live 20 miles from him.  Door to door would take less than a half hour if the traffic cooperated.

I’ll begin at the beginning of this change.  I was contacted by a recruiter in February of 2013.  Out of the blue, I was encouraged to apply for a job that sounded exciting and challenging.  The pay was fantastic.  T and I discussed what this change might mean for our lives.  My parents were gone.  Two of our kids had moved out.  The timing for making a major change couldn’t be much better.  I decided to explore this opportunity.  T and I agreed that if at any time a red flag appeared, we would pull the plug on this.

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The Weeks of Invisibility – Revisited

I’m not sure when I wrote the blog post below. I haven’t been on this blog for over a year. Last night, I read the last post I had written on this blog. February 14, 2013.  I was surprised that it had been over a year.  Oh, and what a year it has been. I want to write about all of the many changes that have occurred. I want to write about my new life, T’s new life….and B… I want to write the ending of this long, long story of misguided love, misplaced trust, and finally, I want to write about the growth that was the result of so much pain and struggle. Continue reading