Finding Me - Phases of self discovery after a long term relationship
After the break up of a long relationship ending in divorce, I felt disoriented and alone. I believe is a feeling most of us share. It does not matter if the decision to end the relationship came from us or our partner, the feeling of emptiness and loss feels the same to everyone. Whether you actually had a divorce, or just lived together; anything above a 2 year relationship, I believe, makes an impression in our lives. Consequently it takes more time for healing. I thought I was all healed because I was ready to leave my husband. The fact is, it has taken me years to undo all the terrible bad habits I inherited from a toxic relationship. For instance, I had become insecure. I did not realize my own worth. I did as he did; I took myself for granted. I think this may be the worse psychological damage someone could do to oneself. How could I have forgotten the most important person in my life? Me. Being always an independent person of character, I would’ve never thought this could happen to me. It took me a while to realize it and work on it. The longer you are in a relationship, the deeper the changes that take effect within you, for better or worse. In my case, it was the latter. I wished it would’ve been as easy as making a bullet point list of things I needed to change and improve, but it doesn’t work that way. Though it would be great!
At first I was preoccupied with getting my life together. After all my “new life” projects were completed, like home renovations and new furniture to make the space my own; I started to feel alone and even bored. Though I was happy to leave a relationship that no longer served me and which, almost choked me emotionless due to so much anger, I couldn’t help to feel lonely. For five years of my life I only went from work to school and then home. My weekends were at home with my husband playing house.
Unconsciously, I separated myself from my friends, under the misconception that once you are married, there is no time for anything else. I reduced my life to a big to-do list. Little by little I lost my circle of trusted friends. After the divorce, I realized that the only thing I really had in common with them, was marriage which, was now over. I felt even more alone because I had no one to fall back to. Some of my married friends stoped reaching out to me, thinking that being single now, I would not care to spend time with them. From feeling relived and renewed after the divorce, I went to feeling lost and lonely at times. The worse part wasn’t that I didn’t have anyone to talk to, but I also had nothing to say. I was done talking about the past, but was lacking the new experiences. I didn’t have anyone to go out with and it was too soon to date.
I knew however, that unless I threw myself out there, I would never have anything new to talk about or feel. It was not until I started getting involved in new experiences, that I realized the behaviors I wanted to change, and what was causing them. In my case, I did not date until a year after my divorce. In fact, I even remember wanting to go to gay bars with my gay friends, because I knew the men would not hit on me there. I thought that one year’s time was sufficient time alone and now I was ready to make the effort. I dare say, many of us may have this terrible habit of assuming that because time has passed, all is clear and good to go. However, time is not necessarily a good assessment of our emotional balance. Instead, is best to listen to how we feel about it. It is right to say though, had I not thrown myself into the new experiences, I would not have discovered how ready or not I was. I would not have known what are the things I like and dislike, what my new confort zone was, and which was the starting point for me.
I like to call this period of my life, after the divorce, the period of self-discovery. I will also add, that this period does not have to end, or more likely, should never end. Solely because you never stop discovering yourself. There will always be a new situation or game changer, whether you are single or in a new relationship. The key is to always listen to yourself. Listen to your feelings and true desires, and what is causing them. This however, has taken me sometime to master. I often was confused with what I really wanted and what society lead me to believe I wanted. As a result, I have come to find me again. In fact, the friends that met me before I was married, look at me now and say, “you are yourself again”. The friends that met me while I was married say, “Wow! You have changed so much”. The truth lies in-between the two. I am myself again because I listen to me, and try to stay true to myself always. I have changed, because we are ever changing like, everything in this world and around us. It would be very sad not to evolve and go through the necessary growth as individuals. I noticed changes from little trivial things like my wardrobe, to more important ones such as, what I really envision my life to be like. My vision comes from my inner desires, not from what my family or society dictates I should envision. In order to do this, I had to cure myself from judgement. I was so used to being judged by my former husband that I began to do it to myself. In fact, we often judge others, not realizing that we are judging ourselves. We judge by putting everyone in preexisting categories and building general expectations of how things should happen. It was important that I free myself from all I had been conditioned to believe in like, the categories I thought I had to fulfill and that I search for what I truly believe in. Five years away from that relationship now, I have come a long way. Like the onion, I have been peeling away the extra skin, to reveal a more savory core. It has been quite the journey, but it has been worth it!