“Time heals all wounds.” That can be true, but it depends on what we do with that time. If we just sit in our hurts, they don’t heal. We have to commit to actions that promote healing. In my case, I needed space to think and work on myself. I needed to see where I went wrong so I could begin to make changes. I needed to distance myself from the abuse, so I could truly see it for what it was. I needed away from the bond that trauma had created.
God blessed me with that space and distance and life has gotten so much easier. The ex has moved to another state and that has helped me and the boys tremendously. He still texts me often, sometimes sending me old pics of us together or things we did together, but he’s not here, so it is better. He still doesn’t take our youngest for his weekends or come into town to see him, but we’ve all just come to expect that from him.
I have a new job with great co-workers who are fun, new friends that have taken me in, old friends that have stood by me, and some really good, very special people in my life. It is still taking time to adjust to being a single mom, but I am really enjoying getting to know myself again. I feel like I wasn’t allowed to truly be myself for a very long time, and I am finally finding “me” again.
I didn’t realize how much control the ex had until I let him go completely. There is no longer any hope that he will change and become a better person. It has taken me a long time to see that he truly doesn’t want to change; he’s good with who he is and what he does. When his father called my oldest and proceeded to try to manipulate him and turn him against me, we all realized it could be decades before my ex ever attempts to even understand the damage he has caused people, much less make amends and change. His father has yet to figure it out, so what are the odds he will anytime soon?
I think all the time about how sad it must be to live like that- in a world of shallowness and selfishness. I spent years trying to create some depth and meaning in our relationship, not realizing he just wasn’t interested in that. I thought for sure his affair would be the catalyst for change, but instead it just brought to light his desire to continue living for himself. Though, I guess it was the catalyst for change- my change.
I look back on our life together and I honestly wonder who that woman was. I was trying so hard to be perfect. I hated how he laughed at me when I messed up or made fun of me when I made mistakes, so perfection was my solution to minimize the criticism. I’m still working on that. It’s very hard to let go of the desire to not mess up because I don’t trust people to be understanding of my mistakes. If the person who claimed he loved me the most in this world was overly critical of everything I did, how could others be kind when I screw up? So, I continue to work on both the perfectionism problem and the trust issues. I’m honestly not sure which is harder to deal with.
I so desperately want to believe people like me or even love me for me, but I just keep waiting for them to betray me or finally reveal what they were using me for. I struggle with thinking I am worthy of their love without there being some sort of condition attached. I spent twenty-three years with love that was only given to me when I first made him feel loved, so I don’t know how to truly accept love that is given to me with no strings attached. I don’t know how to not work for love. I guess I can add that to my list of things I’m working on.
It’s very hard to trust that someone is loving me for me and not for something they want from me. I wasn’t made to feel worthy of love by my ex, so when someone tells me they love me I have a hard time accepting their love is real and honest. When I make mistakes, I assume they won’t love me anymore and I wait for them to walk away. My head just keeps telling me I’m not good enough for someone to truly love me. It’s crazy what trauma does to a person, but I’m working on that, too. God reminds me to listen to my heart because that’s where He speaks to me and tells me that I am enough and I am truly loved. Even if everyone else walks away, I know He never will.
So, that’s where I am today. Still working on the same things I have been for the last few years, but finally with peace. I didn’t have that before. My life felt like it was in constant turmoil. The same problems are really still there, I’m just letting go of the ones that aren’t mine to deal with. It’s so much easier to just let go of the things I can’t change, give them to God, and just focus on those things I can change. Peace was what I was praying for for years, I just didn’t realize it was up to me to accept it.