Tuesday, March 6, 2012

When you need to love yourself

If I loved him more ... If I love him enough ...

The preambles to the hopeless thoughts that ran through my mind all too often throughout my entire relationship with the STBX now make me cringe. Especially if I ruminate about where those preambles usually led.

If I love him enough, we won't fight so much. 

If I loved him more, things wouldn't be so difficult. 

If I love him enough ... he'll tune in, instead of tune out ... he won't drink so much or so often ... he'll stop lying to me ... he'll stop obsessing over pornography and start wanting me ... we'll share real intimacy ... 

If I loved him more ... he wouldn't treat me so badly ... he would stop blaming me for his weaknesses ... he will change ... he will grow up.

If I love him enough ... I might be good enough ... 

If I loved him more ... he'll start to love me. 

Sadly, I used to base a lot of my self-worth on how happy and satisfied my relentless giving made the STBX. My identity within our relationship, both before and after marriage, depended largely on my ability to prove my unwavering devotion, no matter how many times I was wronged, mistreated, lied to or taken for granted.  It was established early on, for a variety of reasons (some my own fault, some his), that this was to forever be my role for our lives together.  Initially, I found this role fulfilling and I was happy to pour everything I had into loving him, despite not even half of what I was putting in coming back to me, in either love or appreciation, on any regular basis.  If I wasn't getting the love that I wanted or needed from him, I would think to myself things like, "He will show me love when I love him more." or, "He will love me more if I love him enough".

I didn't realize that in loving him so much, I wasn't loving myself nearly enough.

Until our son was born.

Soon after C came into our lives it became painstakingly obvious that I couldn't keep up with the demands of my "role" in addition to the demands of being a new mother. Perpetually giving, giving and then giving some more to now, an infant son, in addition to an unappreciative, disengaged and unloving husband left me empty just weeks after giving birth. I was drained; finished. Almost immediately, my well was completely depleted at a time when I needed fuel reserves more than I ever had before in all of my life.

With C being just 6 weeks old, I found myself staring down a long road of colic, infant reflux and breastfeeding struggles.  Somehow, I instinctively knew that something had to change if we were going to survive. Mamma-bear instinct trumps those of a wife and lover any day.  True Story.

Honestly, how I escaped the lifeless grip of postpartum depression with all that I was going through is beyond me.

Somehow, I just knew that I had to start giving back to myself, loving myself, fueling my own desires through self-respect and self-appreciation, else I would fall into a depressive state of despair while our son suffered from the fallout.  I had to find a way to refuel, because time and time again the STBX had proven that he was incapable of providing me with the kind of love and support that truly filled me up.

I remember thinking, "If I love me enough ..." before letting my instincts take over.

Mamma-bear instinct, coupled with an incredible desire to be the best mother I could possibly be, showed me that loving myself more than anything or anyone else was not selfish.  Instead, it was necessary not only for survival, but also in order to thrive in motherhood.

It was like C became the center of my universe and everything just started to make sense.

I stopped dancing on my head trying to keep the STBX happy in order to prove my worth. All I cared about for months was the health and happiness of our precious baby. In serving his needs as his mother, I no longer had the time or energy to waste on relentless desperation to satisfy the STBX and his selfish needs. My worth became founded in my ability to handle motherhood with finesse and joy while the STBX's drinking habits escalated, his lies grew and he continued to fester an unchecked pornography fetish.

When survival-mode subsided, and as I settled into my new role as a mother while C grew from newborn to baby, I sought to redefine my role with the STBX in light of my new-found love for myself.  I finally appreciated my own worth and I had had enough of being mistreated.  In addition, my Mamma-bear instinct transformed into an overwhelming desire to protect our son from the ridiculous choices the STBX was making almost daily.  Much to the STBX's loathing, I started establishing boundaries and drawing lines of respect no longer allowing him to cross.  I stopped pretending to not know about the porn. I called him out on his lies. I confronted his manipulation.  Most importantly, I stopped forgiving him over and over again for repeated mistreatment. I began to put my foot down.

Needless to say, when I stopped pouring my love and adoration all over him regardless of whatever shit sandwich he had grown accustomed to serving up to me regularly, the fighting went from bad to horrendous.

It was over between us by C's first birthday.

In my opinion, the STBX couldn't handle me appreciating and having respect for myself because that would mean that he would have to do the same if we were to stay together. He resented such high "expectations" and he told me repeatedly in those last few months that the majority of our problems were because I didn't love him enough.  I was "selfish".

If I didn't love myself, I might have believed him.

In the end, I finally realized that I could never love the STBX more than myself ever again without compromising my self-respect, worth and identity.  I also learned that merely loving the STBX would never, ever be enough. Through the fuckery that's gone on since we have been separated, I'm learning more and more that that last part there is not my fault.

Hopefully, when he's old enough, our son will someday understand how Mommy had to love herself most, so that she could love him the best, despite Daddy not loving her nearly enough.


  1. thanks for another great post. if you gave me your everything id hold youtight and never let you go

    1. Awe. Your sweet admiration is totally flattering :)

      I hope you'll keep on reading and enjoying the content!

  2. Aah yes, this was an "ah-ha" moment for me. After our daughter was born it clicked for me & my daughter & myself deserved so much more. No more trying to please him, I have to be happy first. It is what I deserve...his loss for not stepping up to the plate.

    1. If we hadn't had our little guy as early into our marriage as we did, I'm willing to bet money that the insanity of it all would have dragged on for much, MUCH longer. When it was just me impacted by the brunt of his bullshit, that wasn't motivation enough for me to grow a set and get the hell out of there. It took becoming a mother for that to happen. Once it was no longer just me ... once it came down to our son being impacted by the bullshit ... well, it lit a fire under my ass and I didn't waste too much time before deciding that leaving was a much better option for our young child than staying ever would be.

  3. This post makes my eyes tear up.. and it shows me that you really have grown through all of this and you & your boy are going to be ok. More than ok, you'll be wonderful :). Loving yourself is key, it's like when you're on an airplane and you need to put on your own oxygen mask before putting it on the child.

    It is so interesting how having children makes us realize what is important, and which people are really helpful to us and which ones are just draining us. I have less patience for my husband than I used to, and he requires some patience. But he is also understanding when I tell him that I just can't deal with him right now. I think that's what makes a good partner- someone you can honestly tell to go bug off when things are bad and he gets it.

    I think it is wonderful how you are using this blog as part of your recovery from the STBX. I even think that the weirdo naysayers on here are helping you, by giving you someone to focus your anger on (not that you need more people to be angry with, but I guess it's less legally dangerous to write angrily at strangers on an anonymous blog than to express your rightful anger at the STBX directly).

    -your friend Mokey4

    1. I cried while writing this post. It isn't very often on here that you'll find me tiptoeing around the fact that my heart was broken or that I have had to grieve. I don't like to go back to the painful parts of our six year relationship, but sometimes it is necessary in order to grow and learn so that I can move on and start over. Sometimes you have to really embrace what hurts, feel it thoroughly, inspect it and truly understand why it hurt to begin with in order to fully let go of the pain once and for all.

      To the naysayers and other "haters", I say "eat your heart out". They serve me shit and I spin it into gold. Or something like that ... LOL!

  4. This is one of my favorite posts of yours Phenom (I've missed a few lately, but this one, wow, this one is beautiful). It reeks (in a good way!) of how far you have come in realizing that your decision was the right one, and that there is nothing selfish about respecting and loving yourself. It makes you a better you for you and for your child. If you love yourself, it'll show and be in every action you make. And if you don't, it will show in every action you make. You chose the former, and the smarter, love yourself, and it all rubs off around you.

    1. Awe, I'm glad you liked. This was one of the hardest posts I've written to date because my emotions are just right out there, raw, for anyone to read. I feel a tad exposed, maybe?

      Regardless, I'm glad that I shared. I feel like I've let go of this guilt aspect of the relationship ... the guilt of loving him more than I loved myself to the point where I tolerated disrespect and zero appreciation. I've learned the hard way that you need to respect and appreciate yourself the same way you wish others to respect and appreciate you. Its a non-negotiable in every relationship of your life.

  5. Phenom,

    You have discovered the ultimate "how" in not repeating a bad relationship. When you love yourself and respect yourself enough to create appropriate boundaries of behavior with all people (including a romantic partner), you effectively deny others the ability to take advantage of you. This is a difficult lesson to learn, especially for those of us (I'm certainly one of them), who consistently puts others' needs before your own needs. In doing so, you think that you're being a good person - giving to others, loving them unconditionally, being forgiving, and so forth, but in reality, you are draining yourself and for people who naturally desire to "take, take, take", you give them permission to abuse your giving nature.

    Your STBX sounds like he has a variety of issues plaguing him including a sense of entitlement, a need to be essentially worshiped, and a concrete victim syndrome, all of which fuel the symptoms of the "take, take, take" without ever giving in return behaviors, the porn addiction, manipulation/lies (he sees them as simply necessary because he is being called out on his poor behavior), and his inability to put his son's needs before his own. My guess would be that he has a family structure that has helped to instill the underlying belief system and continues to enable it today.

    Thus, there is no way you, or any woman, can be with this man and successfully maintain a level of love, respect, and boundaries for oneself. It simply isn't possible. And, when a relationship gets to the point where you know at a core level that you cannot ever allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to love your partner more than you love yourself (which simply has to occur for a truly healthy marriage - each loves the other more than their own self to create a depth of intimacy and commitment), then the relationship is permanently broken, as you were smart enough to realize and act upon via separating and divorcing your STBX.

    The haunting questions will continue to disappear with time and hard work. I read that you are seeing a therapist and that is fantastic. It's simply a good idea - a good way to process your past experiences and learn from them as well as to cope with the current experience of single motherhood, the divorce, and dating again. The most important thing, though, is that you have been able to clear the fog that once blurred your vision toward your STBX and your relationship, see the flaws in his character and how you may have found yourself accepting and even seeking the relationship with him. It's the women who fail to truly learn from their experiences and understand them that will ultimately repeat them throughout the course of their lives.

    I know that this post was heart-breaking for you to write. I write and speak very little of my own divorce for the same reasons - it's purely painful. But, at the end of the day, not only is the fruit of your failed marriage your beautiful little boy, but it is also your own valuable life lessons - lessons that you are processing out in writing in your blog and that will (and I believe already have) make you a stronger person, even better mother, and ready to nurture a deep and meaningful romantic relationship in the future (the last being all the sweeter and more appreciated having experienced a bad marriage). And, as much as it hurts, I would encourage you to continue looking for those nagging pieces inside that need to be spoken. Sometimes when we can get up enough courage to speak the truth of our pain, the words allow the pain to transfer to the party that ultimately is responsible - the STBX. You own what is yours, but you have to give up and place squarely back in the lap of your ex all that is his from the relationship.

    Give yourself a pat on the back - pushing "post" on this one was tough and I truly hope that you are feeling the positive effects of your work!

    1. Katie, I am bawling my eyes out you have touched me so!!

      Thank you for taking the time to share such intuitive, sincere and warm thoughts with me (and on my blog). I could never even begin to tell me how much I appreciate your words, support and encouragement. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU. From the bottom of my heart <3

  6. Hon, it's my pleasure to help you in any way that I can, both now and in the future. I've walked a similar path in years past and, while I've learned a great deal since then, I haven't really, truly started to work through my own experiences until very recently. I know what ignoring your own feelings does to a person - if you fail to process experiences like abusive relationships fully you basically turn your heart off...you distance people in your life, refuse new people into it and eventually your physical body turns on you too in an effort of self-preservation. After 6+ years with my ex and another 6+ struggling to evade his stalking, I'm finally at that end point. Body, mind, and soul have all thrown up their red flags and rendered me very, very broken. I don't want to see you make those same mistakes. Anything that I can say or do to encourage and support you in fighting to reclaim your own body, mind, and soul, to process and let go of the past and to move on to a brighter future for yourself and for C is all time well spent to me. I'm truly glad that my words have helped in some small way. Keep fighting, keeping writing, and know that you are always welcome to talk to me privately, if I can be of help, as well.


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