If you open your eyes when you’re face down,
you see a perspective on the world that teaches
you about yourself in world”
I Thought He Didn’t Love Me. The Truth Was, I didn’t Love Myself
When my marriage of 30 years ended, so did years of feeling invisible, powerless, voiceless. Unloved. Two years on, I’m now having the life I truly deserve. That’s the gift that has come from this otherwise tragic end to the fairy-tale.
Freedom has come through a whole load of deep self-reflection. Learning personal responsibility. Discovering my values. Learning Self-love has been my saviour.
I’m no longer looking for others to validate me. All adversity in our lives gives us the opportunity to learn something about ourselves, and to grow as spiritual beings.
What did I learn from my fall?
I discovered it wasn’t so much that my husband didn’t love me. Rather, he was reflecting my lack of self-love.
Everything we experience in life, is a reflection of our inner most thoughts. Thoughts, conscious or unconscious, are very powerful attractor. Without self-respect, self-love, we’ll attract friends, love partners, environments, that show us the wounded parts of ourselves.
Here’s a little of my story. Perhaps it’s your story too?
In those early heady days, I assumed his aloofness was his fear of getting close. After all, he’d suffered many losses in childhood. That fairy-tale has a firm grip in this phase. It’s otherwise known as the honeymoon phase. And so we ignore these warning signs. We think he’ll change when he realises we love him so much. He won’t.
We’re so wrapped up in the fantasy, that when the euphoria wears off, we’re left with a sometimes cruel reality. The thing is, if we have enough self-worth, we wouldn’t be settling for less than we deserve to begin with. So if we’ve ended up on the wrong side of love, we will continue to blame ourselves when things go wrong. That’s what women do!
The Pedestal Trap
Even the most independent and intelligent of us women manage to become needy and dependent when love finds its way into our hearts. For me, it was 1986. I was 24, he 29. Mistakenly, I thought I had married above me, so everything he did became a symbol of my worth. And I ended up feeling worthless much of the time. The fact is, we can’t connect with others when we idealise them. It prevents us from seeing the real person. Because I refused to see him for what he was, I kept trying to change myself.
Before embarking on a relationship, it’s important to take the time to list all the positive and negative qualities of the person you are with. If the scales are too far in the negative, this is a sign to get out. Honestly.
Unconditional Love? Or Stupidity?
Lack of self-love equals lack of boundaries! Without boundaries, we accept bad behaviour instead of believing we deserve better. We settle for less. When I communicated my needs, but never felt validated or heard, I simply stopped asking. To compensate for feeling powerless, I told myself I must be expecting too much. When I resigned myself to accepting less, I called it ‘unconditional love’.
At no time has unconditional love equated to accepting abusive treatment. If you’re in an abusive relationship, get out! I can tell you honestly that I love my ex partner unconditionally. I accept that he is what he is and honour his choice to stay that way. Loving him unconditionally did not mean I should have stayed and settled for the way he treated me.
Now that I love myself enough, I have stopped settling for less!
Control is Not About Love
When things weren’t going as I wanted them, I just kept adjusting my self to make him happy. Surely if he was happy, he would love me more. Wouldn’t he?
What I was unconsciously saying was “If I do this, then hopefully he will do that”. I was trying to manipulate and control his behaviour to suit my own needs. Attempting to influence his feelings towards me. When it failed, I was left feeling powerless again. And a never-ending cycle of changing my self ensued.
But I was changing my self so much, that when my marriage ended, I had no idea who I really was! That’s the price you pay.
While I was in the drama I never saw it that way. It’s always easier to play the martyr. The victim. Later, coming to this realisation allowed me to start taking responsibility for my behaviour. Take responsibility for my happiness. Personal responsibility doesn’t have room for victims.
The Importance of Knowing Our Values
John De Martini says that we mistakenly want others to fit inside our values. If our partners values don’t match what’s important to us, we set ourselves up for feeling of betrayal and hurt. It’s a case of accepting where they are (or understanding the 5 Love Languages), and communicating in a way that gets both needs met. Sometimes, our values are too different.
In my case, my partner valued feeling needed. I valued equality. The two were never going to match. For me to meet his value, meant I had to act powerless. Less than. I’m naturally a strong woman, so adjusting my innate nature to live this way simply eroded my self-esteem. But we never experienced harmony unless I was forsaking my own values. And he never tried to meet me in mine.
Silence is Not Golden
Through fear of abandonment, I stayed silent about many things that hurt me. But when you lose your voice in a relationship, you stop living your truth. Each time I stayed silent, a little part of me died inside. Fear, along with anger, is a very toxic duo.
It was dis-empowering me and preventing me from becoming everything I longed to be. Again, all my energy was going into controlling how my husband related to me. The old saying “be the change you want to see” would be appropriate here. I wanted him to display all the loving communicative habits that I wasn’t demonstrating in my behaviour. The more I pushed, the more he pulled away.
His infidelity began 10 years into our marriage while pregnant with our 3rd child. It continued for 7 years. Hours of internet porn turned into lap dances at strip clubs, followed by happy ending massages. And finally, renting hotel rooms and engaging high-priced hookers for oral sex.
As with anyone leading a secret double life, his demeanour towards me worsened progressively over the course of that 7 year period. He often made cruel derogatory remarks about my looks, and shut me out of his life completely. I didn’t know exactly what was going on, but suspected it involved other women. Often I awoke from nightmares where he would be in a room full of women, pawning over him sexually. All laughing at me. My self-esteem and sense of self as a woman took a dive. My health suffered, and I yelled constantly at my children.
I resented that people thought so highly of him when he treated me so disrespectfully behind closed doors.
The Powerlessness of Fear
Why didn’t I confront him? Well, if the truth comes out, you must be ready to act on it in some way. Even if that means leaving. I wasn’t ready for that. There was fear of financial hardship and raising children as a single parent. Also, I didn’t know who I was anymore, and feared I had nothing to offer anybody. But I was already alone and lonely within the marriage. I felt powerless over my fears. All I wanted was to feel loved.
What were my limiting beliefs about my self-worth that would make me think there was no alternative? I still believed I was doing something wrong. By the time the truth did come out, mistrust, anger and resentment had made a home deep within me. But I chose to stay. And for the next ten years, those feelings stayed with me.
I Love You, But I’m Not In Love
November 2013. We left the prostitutes behind 7 years ago. It’s now our 25th wedding anniversary. We have a romantic dinner and then he says “Just for something different, why don’t we hire a hooker?”
My heart literally broke. Seeing my sadness, he suggested that if I wasn’t over the past yet, I should see a psychologist! I awoke the next morning with the pain still in my heart.
For the next 6 months, he began to act like he really hated me. Couldn’t be alone in a room with me. Didn’t want to spend any time with me socially. Was easily angered at the very sound of my voice. It was clear that the relationship was over, but I still didn’t know how to end it. Fear. Fear. Fear. I cried out to God “Please help me find my way. Give me the strength to do what’s needed for my highest good!”. The universe heard.
May 25 2014. I received his text: “For now, I still love you. But I’m not in love.”
Two things struck me. First, I never really felt he was ‘in love‘ with me. Second, his use of the term “for now’”. That was a red flag pointing towards a future that guaranteed more hurt.
Making the Choice to Leave
Without a moment’s hesitation, I made the choice to leave. But the grief hit me hard just the same. It felt as though all the work I’d done, all the sacrifices I’d made, all the forgiving I had to do…. it was all for nothing.
What I grieved most was the loss of the fairy-tale. My new mantra became “You must give up the life you thought you wanted, to have the life you truly deserve“.
The Gift of Adversity
Since separating, I have worked lovingly at re-discovering who I truly am. I’m developing self-love. I’m getting to know what my values are. I never had values before. Values determine your behaviour and allow you to set strong boundaries. Self-love keeps those boundaries in check.
Three years on, life is better than I ever thought possible! Realising my husband was simply mirroring my lack of self-love was a turning point. Whatever you believe is true, consciously or unconsciously, that’s what the universe will reflect back to you in all aspects of your life.
POWERFUL. SEXY. VIBRANT. VISIBLE.
I can say truthfully that I’m feeling POWERFUL. SEXY. VIBRANT. VISIBLE. During the time when I chose to stay in the drama, I was choosing to abandon all those things.
Do I hate him? Never. I didn’t leave because I hated him. I left because I finally believed I deserved more. Looking back I see him as my greatest teacher and I’m filled with gratitude. Sadly, I meet many women who never want another relationship due to bitterness and resentment. Or, they quickly enter new relationships that are just like the one they left.
The secret here is to get to truly know yourself before embarking on new love. Taking responsibility for the choices you made, and recognising why love has always eluded you. What were you attracting and why. This has allowed me to stay positive about future relationships. I’m still hopeful that my equal is out there, so I’m making sure I’ll be the truest version of myself, so I’ll mirror the same.
Moving to that place of inner peace and personal empowerment involves doing whatever it takes. It starts with being honest with yourself about YOU. Here’s some tips to get you started:
♥ Let go of people and situations that don’t serve your highest good.
♥ Keep journals to express and let go of anger and grief.
♥ Allow yourself to experience painful emotions without running from them.
♥ Look back to childhood conditioning. Childhood conditioning is very powerful for setting up unconscious belief systems that can hold you back from being your true self.
♥ See your separation/divorce as the best gift you could have received!
♥ If you want to feel loved, start treating yourself lovingly
♥ Learn to say NO.
♥ Discover your values.
♥ Forgive the past so that it doesn’t have an emotional hold on you any more
♥ Be lovingly patient with yourself during this process.
♥ B-R-E-A-T-H-E. Don’t forget to BREATHE.
One step at a time, do whatever it takes. Whatever it takes. That’s the secret to life no matter what path you’re on.
A Second Chance – Cancer
Update 2016: Two years after our separation, I was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. With all the anger and fear that had festered for 30 years, it’s hardly surprising. My ex had hoped that the cancer would send me back into his arms. To say he had regrets was an understatement.
Despite my diagnosis, I continue to strive for the kind of life, and love, that I fully deserve. The cancer diagnosis could not shake me from the strong foundations I have built since leaving. In fact, cancer has only made my resolve stronger. Many blessings came as a result of cancer. Finally, I had a chance to really heal emotionally and let go of the past.
Getting Closure – Healing Old Wounds
I was on such a high when we first separated. Finally free of all the hurt I had lived with for 30years, I was focusing on rediscovering who I was. But my busy social life came to a halt when I started chemo. And suddenly I was left to face all that suppressed emotion.
When he started dating soon after my diagnosis, it triggered all my old fears about feeling abandoned, and my limiting belief about always coming second place in his life. These women represented all the prostitutes in our marriage.
Suddenly, I needed to express all the things that I should have said during our marriage. I needed to hold him accountable for his actions. And so I found my voice! Oh what joy that was. We talked a great deal about the past. We talked and talked. Much healing occurred for me as a result.
By January of 2017, I had taken a big girl breath and hit the reset button. I got the all-clear on my cancer, and happily returned to the single life I was enjoying before cancer.
I’m ready to let another love into my life. He’ll come when the time is right. If not now, later. I’m determined that my love for myself will ensure the right man comes my way. I won’t settle for less than I deserve again.
Why not check out some of my Articles. I’d love to hear your story as well so leave a comment.
7 Steps to Dealing With Hidden Anger
Are You In Love With The Wrong Person?
Do You Have a Cancer Personality?
Chemotherapy Diet – Managing Side Effects
Stage 4 Bowel Cancer – Diagnosis and Treatment
Indian Ayurveda Detox Following Chemotherapy
Finding Life Purpose After Cancer Diagnosis