Forum Replies Created
February 16, 2014 at 3:16 pm #51112
Congrats on the blank canvas! Scary, yes. But also very exciting. I agree with Matt, take your time painting it.
When I found myself as a blank canvas (very thankful for that, by the way), one question that my therapist asked me was really helpful. What values do I want my future family to have? What do I want my children to value and KNOW in their hearts? Now, as a side note, I am not married and I have no kids. I’m not sure if I’ll ever have kids, but it helped me think about values in a different way. Because these are values and beliefs that I want to internalize and radiate outward towards everyone. Years later, I still add to this list of values of what I want to radiate and what I would want my (hypothetical) future daughter and son to hold true.
I would want my daughter to know that she is hardwired for struggle, but worthy of love and belonging (thank you Brene Brown). I want her (or him) to know that her worth as a person is not dependent on whether she has a boyfriend, or is wearing the right jeans, or is attending the “right” college. I want her to strive for greatness, but not be striving for perfection (which is fear based). I want her to be athletic, not in a varsity kind of way, but rather she is strong and appreciates her body and the gift of movement. I want him to know that vulnerable is good and boundaries are necessary. I want them to accept that life brings all emotions, that emotions are not bad even if they are uncomfortable. Even the uncomfortable emotions (and often especially those) are wonderful teachers and the seeds of compassion.
I could go on and on. But ultimately, by asking myself, what great things I would want for my kids, who are innocent and a blank canvas, I also figured out what values *I* wanted to embrace. Maybe that will help you figure out what to embrace for yourself?
Good luck! You’ve done a great job coming this far!January 23, 2014 at 5:52 pm #49639
YES. I do this. And I think it has to do with a lack of authenticity. When I say “it’s fine,” I don’t always mean it 100%. What I usually mean is, “I don’t think this is a big enough deal to make an issue out of it and I don’t want to make you feel bad, so I’m going to drop it.” And it’s typically true that it’s not a major issue. But you’re right. It gradually eats away at your reserve. And it’s exhausting, because I’m holding back how I feel which is an essential piece of me, refraining from speaking my genuine truth, from hiding that it annoys/ hurts/ frustrates me.
I think ultimately it’s a balance that we need to find, between speaking what is true for us and letting things go. But I think both can be done with compassion, understanding and forgiveness. And learning to speak up, while maintaining those, is essential. Because speaking up, and acknowledging that you are frustrated, does not mean that you aren’t understanding or forgiving. They can all coexist.January 22, 2014 at 5:37 am #49519
Oh, and as for the “hard to get” thing… I’ve dated plenty, but I never liked playing hard to get. It can work, don’t get me wrong (and yes, I’ve done it), but it never turns out well… for the EXACT reasons that you are experiencing. And I read an article a couple months ago that perfectly articulated WHY it never sat well with me. Playing hard to get hooks a man (or woman) by creating fear of loss, by creating a vacuum and that person clings to what they think they will lose. It’s manipulation, by both people. It’s also a poor basis for a relationship because eventually, you WANT to be gotten. And then there is no genuine connection to keep the two together. It will never bring you the kind of relationship you want.
When a relationship is based on authenticity, healthy boundaries, self-worth, and vulnerability, you can have the welcoming and satisfying connection that we are looking for. (If you’re interested, the article is by blogger, Shelly Bullard at http://shellybullard.com/… all her stuff is about relationships and why self love is the foundation for healthy relationships… the article I was talking about is “5 Keys to Finding a Really Good Man.”)January 22, 2014 at 5:24 am #49518
First of all, it is awesome that you extracted yourself from a very controlling marriage, where you were cut off from all friends and family except his own. That is VERY hard for people to do. That requires incredible strength and belief in your self-worth.
One of the problems, I suspect, is that you were cut off from other people for so long and this was the first real connection you had felt in a LONG time. And yes, it feels amazing. The fact that he doesn’t feel the same way though, doesn’t actually mean anything about YOU. He made it sound like is was about you, but it’s not. It’s about him, what kind of relationship he is capable of, what he is capable of giving, etc. And right now, he can’t give you much. And he told you that from the beginning. It’s a lesson that we ALL learn the hard way. There is no way around it, and I’m sure most of us have to learn this lesson many times in our lives: when someone tells you who they are, believe them. None of this “oh but he’s so wonderful, he acts so caring, when he looks into my eyes I see such a beautiful soul, I’ll help him see how wonderful he really is.” Knock it off. He told you who he is, accept that.
You might also have a limited perspective because your husband was the only man you’ve really dated. I, on the other hand, have never been married and have dated plenty. And it is really hard to get used to rejection and it can be heartbreaking. No doubt about that. I’ve had my heart shattered, waiting for a year and a half for my ex to realize that I’m awesome and he loved me. It didn’t happen. But I eventually realized that rejection isn’t *so* horrible when your self worth isn’t on the line. So, I flipped the scenario. Looked at it from the opposite view: I’ve dated some really wonderful, nice guys who were looking for something serious. They treated me well and did all the right things. Any girl would be lucky to date these guys. But something was missing on my end. The chemistry or the trust or the passion or the attachment or something was missing. This did NOT in any way make them less great, or less worthy of finding someone awesome who appreciates them, or less of a person. And the same goes for me; just because my ex clearly felt something was missing, that doesn’t make me less awesome or less worthy of love or appreciation. And the same goes for you.
I’ve been rejected numerous times. I’ve also rejected just as many potential boyfriends. And in the dating world, you will be rejected and you will reject others too. That’s okay. You should be picky. You should look for someone who makes you feel amazing and appreciated and SEEN. And it should be someone who actually does those things — who actually appreciates you and SEES you. And it should be someone who you love and admire and respect, exactly as they are — not an improved version of them, not a “but if I give it time he’ll change his mind” — exactly as he is.
You clearly have the strength to move beyond this. I know it hurts and it’s totally okay to be hurt and to cry and be heartbroken. But you believed in yourself enough to get out of a very controlling marriage. A lot of people don’t get out of those. So, you do have that strength. You just have more work to do. Keep working on really understanding that you are enough, with or without a relationship. That you are wonderful. That you are beauty. That you are strength. That you are whole.January 21, 2014 at 4:20 am #49463
Wait, is your niece a child or an adult? I thought she was an adult, until I read Simran’s reply. That would change my answer 🙂January 21, 2014 at 4:17 am #49462
You also might need to reinforce those boundaries. I don’t know the tone of these friends/family relationships, so it’s hard to give advice. I think you standing up for yourself is good. And when they say stuff like “we know how you are,” you can respond with a simple “I don’t like it. I’ve asked you to stop.” Like Matt said, you might need patience to let them catch up to you. They are set in their “normal” mode and it will take a while for this to become the new normal. However, you should be prepared if they get particularly mean or really cross a line. You may need to walk out. Don’t storm out in a huff or yelling. Just a simple “Look, I’ve asked you numerous times not to say that to me anymore. I’m leaving. I’ll see you guys next week.”January 20, 2014 at 10:09 am #49409
I appreciate that your little girl has such a strong family support all around her. She is very lucky to have responsible and caring parents who can split amicably. (My parents had a tumultuous marriage, but a seamless divorce that I am very grateful for, and they became friends after the divorce. As an adult, I greatly admire and respect their ability to do that.)
I do agree with Matt that you seem to be in child mode with your parents though. It sounds like you need to establish firmer boundaries, for YOUR sake. It is really great that your parents watch your child while you work, but I think otherwise, you should take a couple large steps back from them. They are too involved in your life and you expect them to make decisions based on your feelings.
Also, how about you spend those weekends when your daughter is at your ex’s house going out of town, doing something you’ve always wanted, and completely removing yourself from your family surroundings? Exploit those weekends alone!January 20, 2014 at 5:02 am #49395
Sigh… I know I shouldn’t tell you what to do. It’s your life and you have our support regardless. But it’s been 14 years. You might want things to be different, but you’ve known him long enough to really SEE who he is. Two weeks of silent treatment is ridiculous. And I’m the type of person who “needs space” to get my thoughts in order. Two weeks is pure manipulation and spite. And it’s just plain shitty.
Once you go, you are going to doubt your decision. That’s expected and normal. Accept it. You’re going to have moments or days of crying and sadness. Let yourself experience it. Those emotions DON’T mean that you made the wrong decision. It’s going to be hard to get back on your feet and it’s going to take a while. BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF. You have a place to stay; you have a job lined up. You can make that work. Give it time.
And keep doing all the things that heal your soul. It will help you get to a better place and to recognize good when it comes your way. It will also help you recognize bad situations when they come your way (so you don’t repeat this type of relationship).
You’ll be okay. You’ll land on your feet. Trust yourself. You deserve better.January 17, 2014 at 12:59 pm #49276
I understand you feel disillusioned. You are seeing and experiencing a new side of life and it’s not what you thought it would be. College was a very difficult time for me — I know many people who loved it, best time of their lives. I hated it. And I saw a lot of sadness around me.
Now, 10 years later, I have many more experiences to draw upon and I see the world different. And as you continue to live your life, if you accept experiences for what they are (not good, not bad, just experiences), your viewpoint will expand.
Yes, people grow up. And our relationships change. Sometimes our hearts get broken, and sometimes we find people who stick by us through it all. Some people are only meant to be in our lives a short time, to teach us something about ourselves, and once that lesson is done, they float off — to teach someone else another lesson. Some people stay in our lives for many years, and a few for a lifetime. But they all matter. And they are all blessings.
Right now, you see janitors working at 2am and feel sad that they must do this every day. But I work with many people who would be elated to be working a steady job at 2am, proud that they can bring home a paycheck. It’s honest work. And I appreciate that they take the time to make my school or place of employment clean. And I’m always friendly to them, and say good morning, or good night. I let them know, in small ways, that I see them and I value them. You can do the same.
You hear hateful comments from your peers. And yes, these hurt. But as I’ve gotten older, I also see them as young people who are barely adults in this world who are scared and confused and insecure. And they grasping at straws to make themselves feel safe. And sadly, one of fastest ways to do that is to make other people feel excluded so that they feel included. But to the people who are being called the names, you can let them know that you have their back. That you support them and who they are. You can calmly and lovingly disagree with the name calling. And once older, you will see that your peers are just scared kids. And they are lost in this world. And I have compassion and love for that misguidedness.
I know you are upset that you have to retake a class. But it is also an opportunity to excel at it. I had to retake a math class in high school. Not only did I ace it (the second time around), I ended up being very grateful that I retook the class. If I had continued on to the next level without understanding it, I would have slowly but surely failed at higher levels. With such a strong foundation in that math class that I retook, I sailed through all upper classes. I ended up with a degree in math and physics. You never know if that is in your future as well. Or it could be that failing your class is an opportunity to realize that you are passing up your dreams, and you are on the wrong path. Perhaps it’s time for you to get back on your intended path if this isn’t it.
Not all is lost. Not all is sad. Your experience in life is still narrow though. With time, it will expand, but you might need to help it along. Spending time at places like TinyBuddha is a good place to start.January 13, 2014 at 4:32 pm #49064
Depends on the situation. And it may be a combination of these things:
(1) fear of the unknown. A lot of people stick with a partner out of comfort, knowing that things aren’t great. But there is a strange comfort in expected and predictable unhappiness, as opposed to fear of possible happiness and possible unhappiness.
(2) fear of regret. You want to make sure you did EVERYTHING you could to make it work so that you don’t wonder somewhere down the line if you made a mistake. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to try everything. You try (at whatever level you think the situation merits) and it works or it doesn’t.
(3) fear of rejection. You want a reply to prove to yourself that you are desired and worth the trouble. It’s ultimately a lack of self-confidence and lack of belief in your inherent worth (which we ALL struggle with).
And I think that a major part of it is: (4) You still pursue the person and call/text constantly because you haven’t let go of “what might have been.” You might accept that things aren’t working and that it needs to end. You might logically understand that and in your heart believe it. But you haven’t allowed yourself to grieve the loss of the future you envisioned. Once you let go of that imaginary future, you can let the person go in peace. And you can be at peace in your decision.January 12, 2014 at 12:07 pm #48972
That makes sense and I get that. I’m not likely to have kids, even thought I do like kids, because I’ve never had that internal drive to have one. I don’t have much advice really, other than I think this is totally normal and that a lot of people struggle with it.
I do think that a lot of people have kids thinking that it will make their life more complete or better, or because it’s what they are supposed to do, but it’s really not that simple. There are plenty of single people, married people without kids, single with kids, and married with kids, who are perfectly unhappy and depressed. The status of single/married and kids/no kids does not make a person more or less happy, though they are all factors that a person can appreciate with the right mindset. I think you can live a very satisfying and full life with kids, and can live a very satisfying and full life without kids. What can be difficult is getting to a mental state where you accept and acknowledge that that both options offer a life that is abundant and rich and full of love. And that either way, you will be just fine.January 12, 2014 at 9:45 am #48968
Have you decided NOT to have kids? Why? Are you changing your mind about that? Why do you feel you need to decide right now? Or is it just that you dislike that you have this weird “must have kids to be happy” script playing in your head?
It’s perfectly fine to not have kids and it’s perfectly fine to want them. It’s perfectly fine to feel that you are missing out if you don’t have kids. It’s also fine to be unsure. It’s also fine to change your mind.January 12, 2014 at 9:34 am #48967
Can I ask why you are sticking it out this semester? It seems to be still early enough to drop your classes. And I’m not suggesting that you should drop them. More wondering why you aren’t. Are these classes that you’ll get transfer credit for at the new school? Will it look bad on your upcoming application that you dropped this semester? No place else to go? Family would be furious if you dropped out? I think the reason could be the key to making it more bearable. I say this because I dropped out of college for semester because I was miserable. Ended up going back. I still hated it, but at least I understood my reasons for sticking it out and knew that it was temporary. It helped.
So, if you are going to be getting transfer credit or using this semester on your application to the new school, I think that could provide some motivation to do a good job and stay focused. I know how hard it is to stay focused for 4 months when you are completely unhappy. But look at the grand scheme. If you spend 4 years in college, 4 months isn’t so bad. It sucks, but keep the big picture in mind. This is also how I got through studying for LSAT while working full time, and how I got through studying for the bar exam. I just kept reminding myself that 2-3 months isn’t THAT long in the grand scheme of things. And if I really bust my ass now, I’ll never have to do it again.
You also might think about creating a vision board to hang by your desk, or to create on in a journal. With phrases and pictures to motivate you and remind you WHY you are doing all of this. To inspire you. To keep the long term goal in mind.
Also, see if there are non-school activities that you can get involved in. Check out meetup.com. Maybe there is a meditation group? hiking group? book club? club for foodies? It will help you get away from the oppressive atmosphere that you are currently in.January 11, 2014 at 11:45 am #48921
I wish I could offer insight or wisdom to help you through this time. Truth is, I’ve never been married and my longest relationship was 3 years. So, I can’t put myself in your shoes. But I imagine that after 40 years, a lot of your identity and daily patterns and life patterns are entwined with your ex. I imagine that it would be difficult to uncouple those and to begin seeing yourself as a wholly independent person, capable of wonderful things all on your own. It might take a while to regain your footing and to rediscover who you are, as shining and unique soul in this world. I agree with Mark, allow yourself time and space to grieve.
Like any life event that rocks you to your core though, I think that slowly, you’ll start to get excited about things again, and getting intrigued by all those things that you had in the back of your mind but never did because it wasn’t sensible or didn’t match with who you *thought* you were. These moments will probably be interspersed between moments of sadness and confusion, but embrace them and run with them when they strike. But I have no doubt that you can find love again, love with the compassion, understanding, and connection that we all crave. We are all capable of finding it, but it can take a while to make peace with our past and with ourselves first. It also might come in a form or a person that we weren’t expecting.
Good luck to you.December 24, 2013 at 4:20 pm #47516
A couple thoughts… First, you are still SO young. And I don’t mean that in a patronizing way or as a way to invalidate how you feel. What I mean, is that you have no idea how much your life will and can change in the next couple years. You still have an enormous amount to learn about yourself. I’m 33, and I could not imagine how much my life has changed between 25 and now, or even 28 and now. Personally, I take comfort in that fact. It means that if I’m not satisfied with something, it will eventually change (and probably sooner rather than later). I don’t know what it might change into, but I can do my best to grow and learn and situate myself to best handle whatever comes next. So, right now, as a single girl in her mid-20s, you are in a PERFECT position to work on self-love and self-compassion, and to work on your passions, or to figure out what some of your passions are, and to PUSH your boundaries. Do stuff that intimidates you (especially non-relationship stuff!).
Second, I totally understand that we ladies get an extra dose of “you should be married/have a boyfriend/ have a date.” I can’t fix that. BUT, what helped me become more okay with being single is the realization and acknowledgement that relationships do NOT make me happy. Yes, there are some great highs and I’ve had some good ones. But, I’ve also been perfectly miserable in relationships and never felt more alone. For me, that is one of the worst feelings in the world. But it also helped me realize that having that boyfriend/fiance/husband does not fix the problem of being alone or unhappy with myself. It actually fixed nothing.
There is also the issue of what to do when you do find yourself in a relationship, which is only a matter of time. No matter how great a relationship starts out, or seems, it is not going to last, even if you are married with kids. I don’t say this to sound bleak, but rather to point out that getting the pretty ring or having a cute boy on your arm to bat your eyes at is not a panacea. And any residual issues that you have being comfortable with yourself are going to crop back up, and it might be brutal when it does. Personally, I’ve learned (well, I’m continuously learning) to embrace the fact that my relationship is not bulletproof. I embrace that it will end one day. I don’t know if that will be tomorrow, or in 6 months, or in 50 years on my deathbed. But it will end. And I want to enjoy it while I have it. I think it makes me appreciate it more. But I also think that I am ABLE to appreciate it more because I know that when it ends, as much as it’s going to hurt, I’m okay on my own. I am enough.