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. I’m no longer looking for others to validate me. Learning Self-love has been my saviour. I’m so grateful that my marriage ended because of what it has taught me about myself. All adversity in our lives gives us the opportunity to learn something about ourselves, and to grow.
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 attractors. 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?
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. We simply can’t connect with others when we idealise them, because it prevents us from seeing the real person.
In those early heady days, I assumed his aloofness was his fear of getting close. After all, he’d suffered many losses in childhood. We ignore these warning signs in the honeymoon phase of the relationship. We think he’ll change when he realises we love him so much. That fairy-tale has a firm grip!
I mistook my lack of boundaries as ‘unconditional love’. Accepting his behaviour instead of believing I deserved better. 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?
Control is Not About Love
What I was really 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.
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 that I must be doing something wrong. By the time the truth did come out, I was filled with mistrust, anger and resentment. 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!
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.
And then 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.
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.
Making the Choice to Leave
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“.
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 now believed I deserved more. Looking back now I see him as my greatest teacher and am 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.
♥ 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.
UPDATE – Cancer Diagnosis
June 2016. Two years after separating, I was diagnosed with Stage IV Colon Cancer.
With all the anger and fear that had festered for 30 years, it’s hardly surprising. 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.
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