Just smile and wave boys, just smile and wave
This is me.
Physically I’m the same person in both photos, if you don’t count the two years of braces. Emotionally I’m two completely different people.
The photo on the right was taken eleven or twelve years ago. I had it all. Married, two gorgeous boys, beautiful house, great job and a dog, but I had nothing. I can see it in my eyes, I’m dead inside. I was so deeply unhappy and lonely. I contemplated walking out on my marriage on a daily basis. I felt unappreciated and completely out of control of my own life. I was caught in the rapids of daily life and was being dragged along in a current that I couldn’t fight against. I just wanted to get out. Make my way to the riverbank and climb the fuck out of my life. But I was afraid of the repercussions of leaving my marriage and facing a life as a single mum. If I’m totally honest with you I had a financially comfortable life and didn’t want to give that up. I could also hear my parent’s voices in my head saying “I knew he was an arsehole!”, “Why did you put up with that for so long?” I didn’t want to prove them right.
I isolated myself from my friends because all I ever did when I saw them was complain about my marriage. I assumed they were judging and condemning me for staying in an unhappy marriage.
I desperately wanted to be loved, supported, respected and seen as an equal in my relationship.
The photo on the left was taken at Christmas 2018 and I can honestly say it was the best Christmas I’ve spent with my husband. I am genuinely happy, relaxed and in control of my life. I feel deeply loved, fully supported, respected and appreciated.
How? What changed?
I took responsibility for the situation I was in. I stopped seeing myself as a victim. I’m not going to bullshit you, I suffered for another ten years before I had this revelation and I was miserable.
But this is what I finally realised, I had made it my responsibility to make my husband happy. As our relationship evolved it became an unspoken law that if he was unhappy it was my job to fix it. I would go so far as to swap meals with him in a restaurant if he didn’t like what he ordered! I was teaching my husband that I was the least important person in our relationship. After our boys were born I did the exact same thing with them. I would always put myself and my needs last to ensure they were happy. I wasn’t respected and appreciated because I didn’t respect and appreciate myself.
Hubby and I have been together in one capacity or another (going out, engaged, married) for twenty nine years and I can tell you that reversing the lesson I had been teaching him all that time has been really hard work. It still is sometimes and it has taken a great deal of courage, patience and persistence to start turning the tide.
My first step was to start an open and honest conversation. I explained that I was willing to take responsibility for creating the situation we were in and that I was not responsible for his happiness and should never have been. Then there was a LOT of personal development. I worked really hard on my self-worth. I read, I got clear on what I wanted, I did some group coaching and we got some counselling and things started to shift.
What I want you to know is that it CAN be different. It can be AMAZING. But it starts with YOU.