Because of our life experiences we are hardwired to react and behave in certain ways. A lot of those experiences occur in our childhood. My mother suffered from mental illness as well as scarring from the abuse she suffered as a child. Due to these scars, my mother was hardwired to find someone to take care of her. When I was old enough my mother groomed me to be responsible for my brothers as well as multiple responsibilities around the home. By the time I was in my teen years I was working a full-time job, going to high school, cleaning the house and taking care of my brothers. My days were filled with responsibility and not much fun or leisure. To cope with this life I started planning for my future. I wanted to leave home and start my life. I did not realize how all this responsibility and grooming would affect my adult life, even to this day.
I joined the Navy at 18. I wanted to be married by the time I was 22 and have my first child by age 25. I achieved both of these goals. I was a good wife and mother, I worked a full-time job, took care of my home and family. However, I did not let anyone see my vulnerable side. If I needed to cry, I cried alone. The only emotion I felt comfortable showing was anger.
I discovered when my husband died, in order to heal I had to go to a very vulnerable place. More importantly, I had to share those feelings with another human being. The most wonderful thing occurred during this healing process, I found joy, laughter and fun. Through my healing process I discovered it was okay to be vulnerable and let another human being see your scars, fears and weaknesses. It was not only okay, but necessary if I wanted to have a truly intimate relationship. As a result, I met and fell in love with George.
We have been together for almost 8 years. Our relationship is rich and loving. However, I found lately I have slipped into old habits of constantly planning and looking into the future. Instead of staying present and enjoying moments I have right now. Recently, George told me his ex-wife might be planning on attending an event we go on every year. He was divorced 20 years ago and she remarried 19 years ago. They work at the same place and have maintained a distant friendship through the years. Because of the death of a close friend, she was able to see all of the friends she had years ago. She was accepted back and feels comfortable seeing these people again. Hence, the thought of coming on this weekend event. Initially, I was very upset by this intrusion as she is an ex-wife and someone George loved earlier in his life. I told George I was not happy about it and did not want to be subjected to fond memories of their past together. He could not understand this as he told me “ I am with you and love you now.”
As with any bad feelings I may be having I started to journal for the next few days to find out where these feelings were coming from. What I discovered was they were coming from a place of insecurity and fear. His ex-wife had done nothing and has always been very cordial around me. She is actually a very nice person. What I was feeling was my own sense of insecurity because I do not have a status of “wife.” What I further discovered is I was defining our relationship and measuring George’s feelings for me by way of a word instead of looking at what we truly have and the intimacy we feel for each other. I had let myself fall into an old habit of deciding what my future should be instead of enjoying what my present is. No one knows what the future holds and I then realized this was never about George’s ex-wife, it was always about me.
I told George if she wants to come on the event I have no issues with it. In fact, if she comes I look forward to getting to know her better.
I am back in the present, where I belong. I am enjoying each day, each moment and the love that surrounds me for as long as it is supposed to surround me.