“There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
– Anais Nin
I have been going to counseling for four years.
Four years ago, I was in a very dark place. I had a son who was a year and a half old and I felt trapped. I looked around and saw my friends taking on new challenges, changing states, being early 20-something. I was so desperately aware that I did things in a different order than the plan I had so carefully developed (at ten or so, I was a weird kid). Don’t get me wrong, I loved my son, I loved my husband, truly, I loved my life, but, at the same time, I was very aware of everything that my life was not.
When I began counseling, I sat down at my first appointment and said that I had decided that I needed a divorce and I wanted to work through how to do that in a way that would be “okay” for all parties – my husband and son especially. My counselor listened to me and then asked me questions. I can say with 100% certainty that if I had not made the call and began this journey of self-exploration, I would be divorced today. While many marriages do not work, my reasons for ending mine were not right and I know I would have lived to regret it.
What I have learned in the last three years:
What feels unique to me was not.
This was a HUGE revelation for me. I thought that every feeling I had, every panicked moment and realization was unique to me. When I would explain the things in the darkest part of my mind that I had never told a soul before and then would look at her face and see no reaction, or a reassurance, I began to realize that these feeling were not unique to me.
My past matters.
It has blown me away how things from my childhood that seem so insignificant can explain behavior in me today.
It all starts with me.
Every relationship, every friendship, my interaction with my kids… If I am not happy with myself, that impacts every single aspect of my life.
Growth is uncomfortable.
There were so many appointments that I would have come up with any reason in the world to miss. The process of growing, stretching and delving inside is by no means comfortable and definitely not a fun process. Figuring out WHY I am the way that I am and what has led me to this point is exposing and therefore many times, I just don’t want to.
Boundaries are key.
I have a small circle, I always have. But with my circle (siblings, friends, etc), I have always prided myself in being transparent and genuine. While this is something I never want to lose, boundaries are healthy and are so necessary when trying to maintain healthy relationships.
We don’t live in a black and white world.
For me, I grew up in a very black and white existence – when something is black and white, you can easily then make the jump to right and wrong and good people vs. bad people. This can be a very dangerous thought process when feeling uncomfortable growth (in early 20s, or really whenever). I have discovered that much more grey exists. For example, I didn’t realize that self-growth could occur (especially HUGE growth) while in a relationship that began when I was different than I now wanted to be. For me, this growth could occur and luckily I had a partner who was willing to grow as well.
With a partner, ask, don’t assume.
It is so easy to assume what your partner is thinking. I have learned to ask and not assume. This has been huge for us.
It’s so worth it.
I’m not done. This process of self-discovery and growth is going to be a lifetime process for me. The growth I have seen in myself is contagious. I want to continue to delve inside and continue to understand who I am, and why I am the way that I am.
I truly can’t thank my husband enough. This process has been devastating, revealing and so very difficult. He is unwavering. He has always approached this as an area for both of us to grow, and, not as an opportunity to point fingers or pass blame (even when he would have been absolutely justified in doing so). He is my rock and I am so thankful he is along for the ride.