As a married woman I took my husband’s opinion very seriously. I didn’t follow everything he wanted but I did try to look appealing, and pleasing to him. I often had red hair, wore dresses and skirts, started using more makeup, and swapped out my black clothes for color. I didn’t mind this most of the time. I enjoyed doing things that seemed to make me more attractive to him.
After our divorce I wanted to feel more attractive to myself. I got bangs- and it looks fierce. I dyed my hair black with added shades of purple and blue. I learned new ways to wear my make up. And I reverted back to a black and gray wardrobe, wearing mostly skinny jeans, t-shirts, and leather jackets. I started to feel comfortable in my own skin again.
There were other things too. I stopped spending my nights watching TV-it was his way of ignoring me. I started working harder. It wasn’t that I didn’t work hard before, but what was once a list of hobbies became my source of income. I have to support my daughter, and myself. I am determined to do it my way. To stay home with my daughter, as I have always done. In the last three years I have ran five businesses, and taken on some odd jobs like being a nanny and painting a house. Best of all, some of those jobs have been lifelong hopes made into reality.
I have also been able to minimize the amount of stuff in my home. My daughter has not enjoyed this part of the changes as much. But, I find so much freedom in it. I grew up in a full house. I have many siblings, and that means we had a lot of stuff. Over 14 years of marriage, we had accumulated a lot too. So when I really started to embrace minimalism it was a sigh of relief after years of finding our worth or being overwhelmed with all we had consumed. I am no where near as free of stuff as I would like to be, but taking only an hour to clean my house a day, having space in my home, and knowing that we have what we need but are not overwhelmed are steps in the direction I want to be going.
There are other areas that I haven’t changed as much in-but I’m working on it. One of the main things I’m working on is not letting myself be used. I’m the oldest of 10 children. I was attempting to be a submissive, obedient wife. I was active in the church for decades. I did what I could to serve others but never stopped to ask myself if that is what was best for me. I spent years upon years of my life reminding myself to keep my mouth shut, and do what is asked of me.
Not all churches/families/marriages are like this, but mine was. I learned to always say yes. I learned to put others first all the time no matter what consequences it held for me or my kids. That is still the behavior that follows me and challenges me to this day. I still have a hard time saying no. I, sometimes, still jump when I’m told too, and especially if it comes from specific people. But, I am growing, and learning.
I’ve also seen changes in my parenting. I used to follow the lead of my husband, and before you misunderstand me, He loves his kids, and was a great dad. But I wasn’t the best mom I could be. I always put my husbands wants first, and didn’t give the attention I should have to my kids. I didn’t choose him over them intentionally, but it happened. I really came to recognize this after we split up. I started seeing my son more often, going to lunch and movies with him. I tried to make it to every single sporting event. I am still not sure why I didn’t do this before, other than I was so wrapped up in being a good wife that I forgot how to be a present mom. I had also become my daughter’s caretaker instead of her mom. I did what as needed for her challenging health, but I stopped having fun with her. This is something that being single has allowed me more time for, and as we have faced hard things I have made more time to rest and play with her.
When life changes you can choose to stay stuck in the same cycles or you can adjust and improve. Sometimes you do both in cycles. So today, I am again evaluating what needs to change, what things I have in my life because I want them, and what things are a result of someone else’s influence.
To keep moving forward, you have to keep evaluating. Spend time learning about yourself, what you want, and how to accomplish it. Spend time reading, writing, and letting yourself absorb what you take in. That is how you bring about change.