So many years have gone by since my divorce became final.
I spend a lot of time looking back and wondering where the time has gone. I no longer recognize myself when I look in the mirror.
Somewhere along the line, I lost the bravery and the youth that made the divorce difficult, but possible.
Where is that girl who did her research and her stake out to catch the pictures that she needed to prove her husband’s dishonesty? Where is the young woman who single handedly raised her three children to be talented, loyal and generous?
What happened to me?
Somehow being me became secondary to fighting to for everything.
Being “me” was no longer a part of my life.
I lost the that part of me while I was busy being mom, dad, wage earner and every other role I have played during the last decade.
I spend a lot of time thinking about what I do, and how to get things done. I think about the things I need to get done. I don’t have the time or the energy to be anything else but what people need me to be.
I miss being me.
So, I think, and I think some more… and I wonder. I wonder about all that I might have done differently If I knew then what I know now.
Today, I know that it does not make me a bad mother if I cannot give 100% of my attention to my children 24 hours each day. In fact, a hard lesson learned is that today, I truly believe that we teach our children a very important lesson by teaching them that mothers have needs too. We need to feel important. We need to feel loved. We need time to feel just about anything and everything. We need time to be less than perfect. We need to admit that we don’t always have the answers. The best message that we can send to our children is that we matter too. By not teaching them this lesson, I taught myself how to experience guilt as a daily reminder every time I feel less than the perfect mother. This is a horrible lesson for my daughter, and a dangerous lesson for my sons.
What else have I learned? Sometimes it’s important to make changes. Don’t be fearful. Don’t hang on to the old because of fear. I know my second marriage came about because of fear. About to lose my health insurance, I married a man I had been dating, a man who had become a friend. Overwhelmed with the responsibility he had taken on, everything went very bad, very quickly. The relationship ended violently. I blame myself for making that decision. I divorced in sadness, then remarried in fear. I looked for a protector, when all I needed was courage.
It was wrong. I did not trust myself to take care of myself financially.
What else have I learned? Like the stewardess who tells us to put on our own oxygen masks before we put on the mask for others, I have spent my life giving oxygen to others.
Bad idea. I have never, ever put my own needs first. I’m sorry about that. I lost a lot of “me time” in making the decisions I made. Watching my second child get ready to go to University, I wonder if it is too late to find myself. With only one more child at home, it is time to face some of those choices. While I am truly proud of my children, I am fearful of facing the truth; I am afraid of what’s to come. I am wondering how I will feel when I am faced with the emptiness of my own company.
I no longer need to be in a relationship. I got over that a long time ago. One of the most important things I learned is that unless you can be happy alone, you are not ready to be in a relationship with anyone else.
Fearing my time alone, at least I know that my life is not over and there is a lot of work to be done. This time, at this stage, I am working on putting myself first. It’s about time.