Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mourning the Loss of Myself, Again

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I originally published this post back in 2008. I like it because it shows how giving up some of yourself, once married, isn't always a bad thing. It's a delicate balance, one I'm happy to navigate every day.

Way back (seems like a hundred years ago, yet just yesterday) when I got married, I felt like I was ready. I was 26. I had dated around a bit, traveled to foreign lands, gotten a decent foothold on my career, and I was ready to settle down. I felt like I'd done (I mean, tried but not necessarily finished) everything I wanted to do, and I was ready for the next big adventure.

After getting married, I experienced a huge adjustment period. I had a new roommate! And, if this roommate didn't mind his manners, I couldn't just wait out the lease and move out. This was IT!! I grieved the loss of my own space.

And, after work, I was so excited to get home to my new husband. We would cook together, go for walks together, just talk together, whatever. But there were also times that I wanted to just go to the mall and walk around, window shopping, on the spur of the moment. I wanted to answer to no one, just being free. I grieved the loss of my free spirit.

Once I had children, I longed for my own time again. Time to take care of me. Time to finish a project I had started. Time to listen to a song on the radio, all the way through, just once. I resented that I had to actually schedule time to do things for myself AFTER I had already finished doing for everyone else. I grieved the loss of my time.

As I grew into the woman I am today, through my teen years and all the way through college, I was very proud of my sharp wit and outgoing nature. I was fearless to tread my own path and quite often I went against the grain just for the fun of it or to see what would happen. Now I am the wife and mother who recognizes the importance of harmony in a family. I value the support I give my husband and he gives me. Many times that means compromising. Compromising has led me to leave some of my own ideas behind. I am now realizing how much I am grieving my loss of independence.

And now that I've been married for over 10 years, you'd think I would be used to it. I have become desensitized to having my every thought interrupted. I have gotten used to putting my own desires and plans on the back burner. I have become accustomed to rearranging what I want to accomplish for the greater good of the whole family.

And ya know what? I'm not mad about it. Isn't that strange? I should be furious! Some days, I do feel like I have let go of myself and morphed into someone else who is a pushover, someone I swore I would never become. Quite often I do feel frustrated that my own decisions about how much money to spend, where to live, how to raise our children, must be tempered with someone else's values. My voice feels like it's so tiny.

This is especially frustrating when I talk to my single girlfriends. They can buy a new couch if they want to! In red plaid! They can go on vacations at the drop of a hat. They can quit their jobs if it doesn't suit them anymore. Their decisions belong to them 100%. They don't have to compromise anything.

But, at the same time, I realize that for every compromise I make, one has been made for me. Every time I see my husband about to say something, then he closes his mouth and just smiles, I am reminded that he is making sacrifices too. When I see him look longingly at his fishing poles, knowing he would rather be out on the lake than cleaning out the gutters, I am humbled. Even when I see him napping in the recliner, I know he'd rather be tired from a long day of playing with the kids than a long day of work. I can only imagine the stress he must have, knowing that the responsibility of our family's finances rests entirely upon his shoulders and his ability to provide.

Even before I got married, I know, that sacrifices and compromises that were made for me back then too. As a child, my mom excluded herself from many of her favorite activities because she was my full-time caregiver. We rarely had babysitters except when my parents went out on weekends, usually to entertain some business client of my dad's. My mom had to take me with her to bowling, choir practice, etc. or not go at all. In high school, I begged my parents to send me to a private high school, and they did. They paid the money so I could make new friends and escape my world of unpopularity. And after college, like the MINUTE I graduated, my dad retired and my parents started traveling. It was easy to see that they made sure I had whatever I needed until I was ready to be on my own. They made life better for me, at the expense of their own wishes and plans.

I recognize that mourning the loss of all these things about myself is selfish. I mean, who wants to feel like they've given up themself for someone else? At the same time, I try to see all the ways that compromises have been made for me. It's hard not to feel loved, knowing how much someone else is willing to give up for my own happiness, security, and peace. So, sacrificing a little bit of myself doesn't seem so hard anymore. Instead it feels like an investment in something whose worth is immeasurable.

This post is part of SITS Back to Blogging week-long event. Thanks to Standards of Excellence, Westar Kitchen and Bath, and Florida Builder Appliances, for the prizes offered during the Back to Blogging event.

Texan Mama


Stephanie said...

This was such a good post for me to read! To help remind me that as much as I miss my independence so does my husband...something important to remember!

Jennifer said...

I think because we got married so young that this isn't something that happened with me. David and I have always been together. It has always been the two of us. I wouldn't know how to be without him. I guess there is good and bad in that.

anymommy said...

Yes, I completely understand this post. I wonder where on earth I'll be, who I'll be even, when I reach the end of these intense young children years. I got married at 26 too!