I learned a lot in a decade of marriage to my ex. I developed several positive habits, and I loved the feelings I would get early in our relationship when I realized some wonderful change my husband had brought about in me. Love transforms. And that’s beautiful.
But relationships can also wreak great damage and destruction.
We all come with baggage, expectations or perspectives imposed or imprinted upon us through our upbringing, life experiences and major relationships.
Following are examples of the emotional baggage from my marriage that I need to shed:
I’ve let myself go and am undesirable.
I’ve come clean about the fact that I’ve put on a few pounds (like nearly 30) since having a second child or turning 35 or whatever reason / excuse I give myself. My ex used to tell others (I learned after I ended our marriage) that I “had let myself go.” He constantly judged others based on their weight. He made a joke of taking photos of me only when I was eating (as if to show that was all I did). And his lagging libido didn’t exactly make me feel desirable, either. One way he could feel good about himself was his body — he was sexy and fit and attractive, even at more than a decade my senior.
Truth is, I am well-proportioned and attractive — I come from good stock, and my DNA allows me the blessing of being able to wear a few extra pounds better than most people can. I’ve had more than a few guys (and a few gals) indicate that they find me sexy or attractive. Sure, I’d like to release some extra poundage, but I don’t let that stand in the way of living to the fullest. I accept myself for the sexy, curvy woman that I am, while working to create positive, healthy change from here.
I’m materialistic because I want things.
Another of the ways my ex made up for his own insecurities (he was not a good earner) was to scorn me for having wants and desires. Anyone who knows me is aware that I’m not a bigger- or more-is-better kind of gal. I live lean and green. I like having things around me that are nice, that function, that are beautiful and give me feelings of comfort, peace and security. I want a new car not because my old one is not good enough, but because it’s falling apart and I don’t feel safe. I’d like to take some road trips, and I’m not comfortable venturing outside of the city in the current state of my jalopy. I like receiving gifts because I feel considered. I like wearing nice sunglasses because I’m more likely to keep track of and take care of them than I am a drugstore pair, which ultimately saves money in the long run. I like to travel internationally and consider the experience an investment.
My ex never cared to understand or accept these things and tried to make me feel small for my innate tendencies. And now I have to learn to let go of his judgment and allow myself to want things, and to know that it’s okay to have wants, and to share my wants and desires. Because I feel pretty sure there are others out there who will help me in my path, rather than stand in the way.
I suspect there are more ugly bags that I’ll find and release over the next months, and probably some that I won’t locate until I’m in another relationship. I hope, by then, that I’ve developed the wisdom and insight and tools to manage to clean them up in a way that’s mature and respectful. But in the mean time, I think I’ll use a sledgehammer on these old, worn-out beliefs…if I can only figure out how to do it!