In the first post of this series, Terry, described how she’d become complacent about her health, struggling with depression, restless leg syndrome and fibromyalgia while all the time knowing her marriage was also in trouble. After her husband moved out, Terry was committed to taking better care of herself and today leads a much more active life. I asked her to talk about the impact being healthier has had. Here’s Terry:
It’s made a big difference in my life. I think taking care of myself also allowed me to move past my anger and hurt at him so that I could get along with him and we could co-parent successfully, because we share physical custody. We live very close to one another and we talk often, not every day, but sometimes every day in a week. I think taking care of myself and making some good decisions that way, helped me to be able to say,
“Well, I’m moving on, so I’m just going to accept that he left.”
Then when he married the woman that he cheated with, I was able to say “OK, fine” and accept her into the world without a ton of resentment and anger too. I don’t know if I could have done that if I wasn’t feeling well.
It’s so different than when I was married. When I was married it was just awful. I couldn’t move without pain sometimes, which was hard with little ones. I worked from home, writing and editing, so it was very much on my time, and I could hang with the kids and take them to the park or whatever. By the time my husband got home, I was just wiped out after pretending all day that I was okay. I would go to bed very quickly after dinner and he handled bedtime routines and things like that. He was also addicted to videogames at that time, so for me to stay up, it didn’t make sense anyway because he wasn’t going to be paying a ton of attention to me anyway.
Now, I’m a little afraid that I’ll wind up hurting again, so I’ve learned to listen to my body. If I’m hurting enough or I’m exhausted enough, I won’t feel too guilty to say,
“I have to go to bed now and get a good night’s sleep because I could hurt tomorrow and I don’t know when it will go away.”
Before I would feel guilty, about the kids or this or that and now it happens so irregularly that I don’t feel guilty if I do.
Once you’re not in physical pain all the time, you really don’t want to go back and being angry or being depressed will very easily drag me back down, so I try to just accept things and move on.
The Divorce Coach Says
When I asked Terry to talk about the difference being healthy made, I was not expecting to hear that it helped her deal with her anger and resentment. I know when I don’t sleep well for extended periods or if I’ve injured my back and it just hurts to move, I am grumpy and grouchy but that’s on a very superficial level. I hadn’t appreciated the impact that chronic pain can have at a very fundamental level, how it can control your whole disposition.
I found myself wondering if Terry had been able to break out of pain cycle while she was married, if their marriage could have been saved but that’s a chicken and egg question. How do therapists deal with situations like this? Maybe this is when a separation would help?
The real important message that comes through here is just how critical it is to take care of yourself. It sounds so simple and so obvious but I think as women, it is part of our nature to put the needs of others, be they our children, our spouse, or our coworkers, first. Keep doing that and inevitably, things will fall apart and then everyone will be hurting. So putting your needs first is not about being selfish or inconsiderate or self-centered, it’s about taking care of yourself so you will be able to take care of others.
Photo credit: shainlee