Monthly Archives: March 2013

Finding My Place in the World

Standard

 

 

My husband’s affair coincided with several other big changes in our lives – moving across the country after working at the same company for 16 years and living in the same city for 25 years, new jobs, and becoming empty nesters (until we weren’t anymore…youngest back again). I now know even one major change makes someone more vulnerable to an affair. Add to all of our changes the fact that my husband stayed behind for several months to pack up our house and get it ready to sell, and we hit the affair vulnerability jackpot! I now understand why very few people choose to do what we did – it is damn hard! 

Surprisingly, even though my heart got broken, I do not regret the changes we made. I am an adventurer at heart – I love to explore and NEED to keep learning new things. I was starting to go stir crazy before the move – knew in my gut that it was time to reinvent ourselves.

And boy did I get a chance to do that. I guess I should watch what I ask for!!

In addition to rebuilding our marriage, I now also find myself needing to reinvent myself professionally. The job I moved across country for didn’t end up panning out, and I have yet to get back into the groove professionally. As a result, we have struggled financially as well.

Even with great credentials and work experience, I am getting very little traction in my job search. This has been really hard for me, because until now work has been one area of my life that has always gone well for me. Also, achievement was really important in my family growing up, so I think it became an important part of my identity and feeling of self-worth. Now, with this area not going well, I am forced to confront my self-image and learn to love and accept myself even when I fail at things…good in the big picture, but very painful to go through.

I think I’m also dealing with some ageism in my job search, which is bizarre to me. I am in my mid-50’s but don’t feel old in any way. I am not stuck in my ways, I love to learn new things, and I am open to change and new experiences. It is hard for me to understand why someone wouldn’t want to hire me just because I am in my mid-50’s. I’m sure part of it is a belief that my healthcare costs will be higher than a younger person, but that is a gross generalization that does not apply to me. I am fit and healthy and plan to stay that way.

We have very little money saved now since we have had to dip into our savings over the last few years, so not working is not an option for me. I expect to work for at least 20 more years full time, and then continue to work on a more flexible basis indefinitely. So it concerns me that the workforce may consider me to be “over the hill.” 

So I am dealing with a lot of worries right now and wish that everything didn’t have to be such a struggle. I keep telling myself that this is just a phase, that the disequilibrium/equilibrium cycle is part of being human, and that it won’t always be this hard. I’m ready for the universe to give me a few breaks!

Advertisements

Looking for Wholeness

Standard

I thought I was doing so well in my healing from my husband’s infidelity. And then tonight – BAM! I feel like I am back at square one. And it is not anything he did or didn’t do. It is me – I realized I am still very broken and am despairing about whether I will ever regain my footing and self-confidence.

It started with a misunderstanding, when I felt he was challenging me about something, and I defaulted to defensiveness (a learned pattern from my family of origin that I have tried so hard to get over but clearly have not been entirely successful in doing so). That led to an argument, which then led to me spiraling down and some old feelings of insecurity getting dredged up, where I feel that somehow I am not “enough” for him and wonder why he wants to be with me. He basically said WTF…could not understand why I would go there, as it has been 3 years since he saw OW and over 2 years since he last spoke with her.

It scares me that I still feel so little confidence that my husband really wants to be with me and is happy with me. I still compare myself unfavorably to OW and feel that she has something I don’t, and that try as I might I will never be able to give him what she did. Whenever he gets upset with me about something, I get a panicky feeling that he will decide it is not worth it with me. And then I end up making the situation worse as my insecurities get the better of me.

I realize that I have not forgiven myself for the things I did and failed to do that made him vulnerable to an affair. Logically I know that it was not all my fault, but emotionally I feel ashamed and responsible that he felt the need to go elsewhere for love and intimacy.

It is funny how sometimes you read or hear an idea at exactly the time you need it. That happened to me tonight when I got up and was reading my email when I couldn’t sleep because I was feeling so distraught. In another blog, bekahoutsidethebox was writing about a Dharma talk she had heard by Ajahn Amaro (a Buddhist monk) about relationships and sexuality.

She wrote that per Ajahn Amaro  “relationships are one of two types, either (1) Relationships of Separateness, or (2) Relationships of Wholeness. In a Relationship of Separateness, there is a rigid “me/you” structure, where we are looking to the relationship as a way to make ourselves complete. We come in with a sense of expectation, of desire, and we look to the other person as someone who will fulfill us. When they inevitably disappoint, or annoy, or fail to make us feel good (because, after all, they are human), we grip tighter, we get closer, we try harder. But it is impossible for any other human being to satisfy us all the time, so we end up feeling alienated, lost, like there is an important piece missing. On the other hand, in a Relationship of Wholeness, we let go of the expectations and desires, and we come into the relationship trusting that we are already whole and complete. Our own happiness and security is not dependent on anyone other than ourselves. The relationship is based on respect, kindness, and appreciation, but we do not solidify our view of the other person or try to change them in any way. We are so secure in ourselves that we can let go completely (which is, as Amaro points out,ironically a really attractive quality in a person).”

This hit me like a ton of bricks. That is the problem – I have been looking to my husband to reassure me and convince me that I am whole and complete and lovable – and when he tries I can never seem to internalize or trust what he is saying. Now I see the futility in that, and how hard it must be for him to try and fail to make me feel truly loved and accepted by him.

I need to find and trust in that wholeness in myself so that I can bring my best self to our relationship. I think my husband has learned that lesson the hard way as he struggled to understand why he made the choices he did. In order for us to finish healing, I now need to learn that lesson as well, to stop punishing myself for my perceived failures and realize that while I am not perfect, I am lovable and whole just as I am, and that we are both lucky to have each other. Easier said than done, but I am grateful that at least I now know the work is mine to do and that my insecurities should not be projected on to him.