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Location: Wisconsin, United States

"There is a secret set within each of our hearts...It is simply the desire for life as it was meant to be... Seasons may pass until it surfaces again. And though it seems to taunt us, and may at times cause us great pain, we know when it returns that it is priceless. For if we could recover this desire, unearth it from beneath all other distractions, and embrace it as our deepest treasure, we would discover the secret of our existance." -John Eldredge, The Journey of Desire

Monday, May 28, 2007


There has never been a time in my life where I have been mature enough to recognize that the gaping hole inside of me is not one that someone else can fill. Until now. Over the course of the last six months I have had some intense counseling. At first this counseling was an effort to fix whatever was wrong between myself and Mr. Boyfriend. This is something I have done a million times in the past - counseling to fix a relationship. He stopped going. I kept going because I felt something being touched there, something growing there. Strength. Self-awareness.

Often times, Ed, the counseling guru, pushes me to talk about my feelings in areas I tend to ignore. I change the subject, but leave there aware that I did it and that probably means I am seriously avoiding something that hurt very much in the past. And then I end up dealing with it.

What I know is this: I have never been just me before. I don't even know who that is, really. When I was twenty, I absolutely abandoned myself. Not all of me, but the essence of myself that is so important and vital. The part of me that will allow me to have a healthy, happy life. And that part of me was new, and fresh and just beginning to grow. I had moved three and a half hours from my home town and was beginning to develop as an adult.

I spoke recently with the ex about this - he has had similar counseling in the last year. He told me that for 15 years I was married to someone with the maturity of a 19 year old. Part of him stopped growing. I think he was right. And I think I was somewhat the same.

I expected that with Mr. Boyfriend I would be able to develop this part of myself in conjunction with our relationship - because we knew each other and because we had been friends for so many years. Not so. Whether because he has his own issues or because it is impossible to be truly emotionally available when our insides are undeveloped is really irrelevant. I simply couldn't do it and I stayed in pain because of it.

He assumes that I am out looking for another man. Another person to fill this hole where I am undeveloped, not truly myself. I am not. That is not where the answer lies. Not only THAT, but after what amounts to 17 years of struggle, I am well and truly exhausted in that area. I need rest. I had hoped that he and I would be able to support each other on our journey - I see many of his issues as congruent with mine. But he is so determined (out of his own unhealthiness) that I am out to find another man, he can't even see me anymore. If he ever could. I don't know. I am not angry at him about this, I simply accept it. It's just the way it was. It doesn't matter who's fault it is - and in reality it is probably both of ours.

In the end though, the accusations and constant abandonment, became too much for me. Why? It hurt, that's for sure. But I also felt those things holding me back. I was continuing with counseling, continuing to explore the parts of me I had shelved, beginning to deal with the things I could not deal with before because I was so overloaded on pain, and the constant upheaval made it impossible to focus on the things I needed to focus on.

So another relationship? No. Dear God, no. I miss him something feirce. I do. But every time I try to talk to him he continues to bring up other men and the conversation goes no where. He believes that is why we ended. That is his stuff. We ended because of what I have outlined above. Because I am 37 and want to finally overcome the things that have made me feel rotten for so many years. Our relationship was keeping me in that place.

The only thing I blame him for is his unwillingness to keep working on him self. Had he done that, he might have been able to give me the freedom to do the same. He didn't and therefore couldn't. And if he heard that statement he would probably believe I meant the freedom to date other men. As you've heard, that so isn't what I was after. I just want peace. I need peace to grow. And if his focus was on himself and furthering his own growth, it probably wouldn't have been a problem.

At the same time, I had to learn to be ok no matter what he did - if he broke up with me, I had to learn to find peace. If he accused me of things and I found myself crumbling, I had to pay attention and work through my feelings until I found where I was abandoning myself for the sake of our relationship. I had to find a way to stand up for myself and not just the relationship. I had to face the fear of losing him permanantly and I had to believe that I deserved reasonable treatment and trust.

In reality, I am going a little crazy. Losing him combined with feeling like a twenty old has been a little overwhelming. I take it day by day. God has truly blessed me with a couple of good girlfriends. There is freedom in my female friends. Laughter and understanding and acceptance. I can tell them who I am without them judging me. They listen when I tell them who I am and accept that it is truth. It is so good for me.

Bizarrely enough, my ex did this. And when we talk he continues to do this. It's painful. That was part of our relationship which I LIKED. We allowed each other to grow, to BE, to become. What we did not know is that we had abandoned ourselves to do what we though was the "right thing". Obviously, God intended something more for me, something different. Obviously I cannot have it yet. It's not time. He has given me everything I need, including my children - because I absolutely love having a family. They are the center of my life, my world, and have been for 16 years. But it is time to quit trying to be enough for everyone else. It is time to believe that I am enough. Because I am exhausted from trying to be enough.

My history, outside of or inclusive of the abuse I have tolerated, goes like this. I found myself pregnant. For whatever reason (and I know the reasons) I did what I thought was the right thing. I got married. I did not want to. When I walked down the isle I left myself in the dressing room. And I felt it happen. I remember the exact moment. From that time on I worked very hard at being enough. Being a good mom according to others rules and my own. Being a student and getting my degree because that is what would impress my father. Doing the right thing. Making my marriage work so that I would not become a statistic. Making good on all the decisions I had made whether they were working or not. I swam upstream with shear determination.

And when my spouse had an affair, it only got worse. I redoubled my efforts to do the right thing. The original goal in mind - success. I directed our recovery from that, but worked twice as hard to be enough. Suddenly I found that as a woman I was not what he wanted - and so I worked to become that. Hard. It was insidious. I didn't know it was happening. For years I saw this other woman in the mirror next to me and compared myself to her. I was angry about it. Very angry.

And this last time that he had an affair I was STILL determined to make it work even though he was not. He knew there was no recovery. He had done too much, gone to far and I would never really forgive him nor move beyond that. He was correct. I could not have. I would have tried though, in my own unhealthiness, I would have worked and worked and worked at it and buried myself even further down so that I might never have come out again.

Divorce was a huge failure. I had failed. I had not been enough. Everything I had worked so very hard at was gone. It was smoke and mirrors - or so I thought at the time. But it wasn't, not really.

From there, I went into a relationship with Mr. Boyfriend. I have yet to sort that one out. I only know that from the beginning I was not enough. I tried. But there was not the push from within that there was with the ex - because the kids were not tied up in it. My faith was growing again. I have thought a million times over the last two years - "I simply cannot be that flawed". And I am not. Confused and befuddled, yes. But then, so is he. But I cannot organize his life or fill the hole inside of him or be the perfect woman for him in whatever way he sees the perfect woman.

I am finally at a point where I know that I am enough. Someone will see me and think I am a terrific person. Not just someone to sleep with. But a wonderful friend. Someday. But I am not going to worry about that right now. Right now I am going to work hard at being my own best friend. At lightening up on the self-judgement and recriminations. At accepting myself. It's hard work. But only in doing this work will I emerge.

And I so know that I have a sign on my forhead that says "Hey, I'm screwed up. If you are screwed up, I'm the girl for you." I have not taken that sign off yet, but I'm working on it. I can at least turn the damn lights off on it. And that is what I have done. My energy, my time, my focus, is on getting healthy. For the first time in 17 years. I do not have the energy for a relationship which requires me to hear all the ways I am wrong, all the things I do and say that are wrong, all the ways I am not enough. It squelches me. I hurt inside when I exist in that place. And I can't do it anymore. Literally. I have found I cannot do it anymore. I shut down. I shut off. There is a healthy part of me that says "Nope. Not having that conversation. Not listening to it. Not going there. This is not good for me, hearing this. I am enough."

And though I miss Mr. Boyfriend, every conversation we have goes in this direction. It hurts. It reinforces the final break-up. Another man? Not hardly. Just me, listening to my insides for the first time in nearly 20 years.


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