March 18, 2014

Slowly But Surely

I am nearly 40 years old. I have a little countdown widget over in the sidebar.

It wasn't until right around the time I was turning 39, that a switch finally flipped inside me.

You know the one.

It's the one that has to do with your self-esteem, having a pretty good idea of who you are and what matters to you, and feeling comfortable in your own skin. The one where, once finally switched on, lets you feel your self-worth, lets you know that you matter.

Yeah, that one.

I tell people all the time when describing my daughter that she'll get there, slowly but surely. I've always thought this has to do with having ADHD, that she's constantly getting distracted and is rarely in any great hurry to do anything.

But maybe it has nothing to do with ADHD. I don't have it, and never did, yet I am now thinking the same thing about myself.

I'll get there.....eventually.

Being that I'm one to ask why, I asked myself, "So Jen, why do you think it's taken you so long to feel good about yourself, and have a little more confidence?"

Light bulb!

I think it has to do with meeting my husband at only 20 years old.

Not that Mark has ever done anything to make me feel less than. He is a wonderful man, has loved me well for nearly half of my life. He is a great husband.


I think attaching myself to another person -- THE person -- at such a young age, made it more difficult for me to discover who I am as an individual.

Not only that, but all of the trauma we've endured together has served to make us each quite damaged in our own ways.

I would in no way take back anything about my relationship with my husband. I've said it before, and I'll say it until the day I die, Mark is the great love of my life. We met when we met; there's no changing that.

I'm just saying that I think when you become part of a couple -- and I didn't see it before now -- there is indeed a tradeoff. You get to go through life with someone you love and who loves you back, but maybe it then takes longer than it might if you were single, to find out who just YOU are.

I was such a control freak in the beginning with Mark. I had to be a part of everything he was involved in. I had to go to every single appointment and know and manage ALL THE THINGS. Mark isn't a control freak, so he let me. I think he also didn't mind the help.

Then I became a mother and had to let Mark take care of his own self more. Then lots of big, scary things happened to Mark and I was forced to see that there's nothing I can do about it. No amount of control freak will fix his health problems. I had to accept that I actually have no control.

As it turns out, learning that lesson was liberating. And then blogging. And then therapy. Oh, the things I've learned!

I found my way to a place -- fighting tooth and nail with myself the whole way -- where, even though I am still married and in love with my husband and he still has health problems....I'm still a mom, still have these people who need me and expect things of me....I am also ME. Jennifer. Jen. Jenni. Mrs. Dancing in the Rain.

It feels good. But man, it was slow!

I can't say I'm not a little disappointed in myself for letting it take so long. I also can't say I am suddenly devoid of insecurities. My eyes will always be a stumbling block for me. Regularly needing to ask others for help when Mark is in the hospital or something, will continue to give me a complex.

Nor am I claiming to have found the magic formula for attaining balance. That is something that each of us has to look for every day. It changes what it looks like every single day.

Perhaps this is a cautionary tale. Maybe what I'm trying to impart here is that no matter who or what are factors in our lives, we must still find a way to be who we are. To figure that out. To embrace it.

And if we can do that, even if it comes about slowly, surely it will.

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