After my separation, I realized that I had alienated myself from relationships FOR me. I also realized that I alienated myself from experiences FOR me. If I wanted to go somewhere or do something and it wasn’t kosher to HIM, then I didn’t do it. I felt like as a family unit we had to do EVERYTHING together, or nothing at all. There’s that black or white thinking again.
Blaming him sounds nice, right? The problem with that is that it would be wrong. There were A LOT of things he did wrong. But the greatest part about my separation was reflecting on my own shortcomings, recognizing my weaknesses and realizing where I had room to grow.
I gained the role of Wife and Mother at the age of 20 and I never really got to develop my own identity. You could have never convinced me of that back then, but hindsight is 20/20. I was raised in a dysfunctional family. A family full of addictions. The truth is, even though I love my family, I never really did have a good model of what one looked like. I created this idea in my head of what it should look like and then did everything in my power to create that image – I neglected myself for the sake of “playing house”. This created a lot of internal stress for me that manifested itself into self sabotage, self-pity, self-hatred, depression and anxiety.
All of those feelings surfaced all at once the day I asked him to leave. I was literally drowning in an emotional storm and I couldn’t pick apart the rain from the thunder. I didn’t know how to handle it and I sought help. I was misdiagnosed Bipolar by one Therapist, and that completely sent me down a rabbit hole. I tried multiple medications, dozens of self-help books, and counseling to help deter the depression, anxiety and panic. I found another Therapist who I believe to my Core got it right. She said, “Jackie, you don’t sound bipolar to me. This sounds like an identity crisis.” Holy Hell. Ding Ding Ding! Don’t get me wrong. Knowing isn’t the cure, but it sure as hell helps you move forward.
I don’t know when it happened, but over time I developed a friendship that literally changed my perception about relationships. The kind of friend who empowers you to accept yourself in all your flaws. The one who looks at that negative perception you have of yourself and turns it into inspiration. The one who listens to all the crappy things you’ve done with no judgement. The one who will tell you the brutal truth when you need it the most (even if you’re not ready to hear it.) The one that will make you laugh so hard at the end of a bad day, or the stroke of bad luck that you literally can’t be upset anymore. The one where you can be authentically yourself, and nothing else, and be enough. Better than enough. Her friendship has changed me in ways I would’ve never imagined.
I don’t have it all together. I’m not sure I ever will. I still fight the anxiety, I fight the depression, I fight the self sabotage, I fight the self loathing…. the good news is, I WIN most of the time now. I can pinpoint my triggers. I know when I need to step back and do something for me, and I have healthy relationships to turn to when I need to distract myself from the chaotic pit of my brain.
I am a mother, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a nurse, an ostomate, and most recently a lover. (Yay!) But, my identity is not defined by my roles. My identity is defined by my compassion. My humor. My intuition. My intelligence. My creativity. My strong opinions. My need for balance. My passions. And it is my identity that now bleeds into my relationships, and not vice versa.
One Flawsome Momma