Holly and her ex dated for about a year when faced with an unplanned pregnancy, they decided to get married. Their marriage lasted four years and Holly says they really didn’t know each other very well. Nevertheless, her ex had a significant influence on Holly…
I would say my biggest accomplishment was just finding myself. My ex-husband was much older and he took on a subtle parent role. He was also very controlling down to what we ate, what clothes he “approved” of me wearing and we were very strict vegetarian and he didn’t want meat cooked in the house. I was a vegetarian but more flexible. If I felt like eating chicken, I would eat chicken. If I felt like having a glass of wine, I’d have a glass of wine. He didn’t want those things in the house and he also didn’t want to go to dinner or be around people who ate meat or drank alcohol.
We ended up having a pretty sheltered life and I got sucked in to a lot of rules. By the time we split up I didn’t even know who I was. I didn’t even like to go shopping because I didn’t know what I liked. I had somebody else’s voice in my head that was louder than mine and I really had to make a conscious effort to make decisions based solely on what I wanted. How would I parent if it were up to me? What clothes would I buy? What groceries would I buy if I didn’t have somebody else who was a much more controlling influence?
Before I was married, I loved to travel but we never traveled. I was very into working out and there was never time for that. There was always, ‘You can’t go to the gym because I’ll have to watch our son.’ It was a constant battle to take an hour to go to the gym. Money was also a big issue for us because he couldn’t manage money and I was used to money not being an issue. I could manage it and we had enough but when we were together, his mismanagement of money was bigger than my ability to manage it. Financial issues were always a concern.
Boundaries was a big issue because I would just give in. He could be mean and make it really difficult for me but when he was having a hard time or he was in a financial crisis, he would want my compassion. I always wanted to be the compassionate person, I always wanted to believe he could actually be nice. I would agree to do things for him only to find out that he was being nice because it was convenient. I would do it over and over again, for years – I probably still do it. I wanted so badly to believe that we could be friends, that we could be happy in a relationship.
Finding myself was basically taking responsibility for myself, knowing what was my business and what wasn’t. I was discontent and unhappy because I couldn’t fix him and I couldn’t make him change. When you wish the world is different from what it is, you’re setting yourself up for suffering. One of the solutions was just getting out of the situation. Another is know what you can control and what you can’t.
When I found myself all of these things started to grow and grow – I found I was able to travel, I was able to exercise and I swear the week I moved out, I felt like something opened up and there was more money in my bank account!
I met Holly through a work connection – she’s a smart, intelligent, vibrant woman and during our interview I got a clear sense that who she is now is very different than the Holly who separated from her husband 10 years ago. I’ll be posting more over the next few days about Holly found herself and got her life back.
How did your marriage affect your voice? Did you lose yourself? What has helped you find your path again?