Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Realization Can Be a Real Bitch

Self-realizations are like pimps, without warning they walk up and slap you in the face as hard as they can. Because truly seeing yourself for what and who you are can, at times, feel like you just got knocked on your ass. You stand there dazed by the harsh light of introspection and think to yourself, God, I’m a horrible person. We all experience moments like that, and I am no exception.

As a smart, educated women with two beautiful, healthy children and a successful and loving husband, I should be perfectly happy – right? That’s where you’d be wrong. I was not happy. In fact, I was miserable.

Over the past couple of years, I have had plenty of time for introspection, too much. With my husband’s career rapidly on the rise, I have had to uproot our family and our lives to move four times in three years. Two of those moves were cross-country…in the same year. We moved from the West Coast to the East Coast and back again. With each of those moves, I have had to give up my current job and begin again in a new state. And when you move that many times, unemployment stays with you like the houseguest that just won’t leave.

While I am fiercely proud of my husband’s accomplishments, the jealousy and resentment I felt fueled my sense of failure and crippled my self-confidence. I sacrificed everything for him to get to where he is, my career opportunities, my education, my dreams, all so he could achieve his dreams. As my reward I got nothing but half-smoked pipe dreams and the littered bits of barely started careers that reminded me of all the unfinished DIY projects in people’s garages that seemed like great ideas to begin with, but would never be finished.

My self-realization came in a flood. Thought after thought, emotion after emotion these realizations washed over me. Like waves on the shore, as one ebbed away, the next crashed over me. They kept coming on me until I was drowning in them. I was miserable and lonely, but too self-conscious to want to be around people. I resented my husband for the choices I made to support him. I was jealous of his overwhelming success and horribly disappointed with my own paltry accomplishments. I blamed him for damaging my employment prospects with constant moves and specific limitations (like no evenings or weekends or travel, or long commutes since he may have to fly out with little notice). I measured my sense of self-worth with my employment status and realized that, though I love my children, being a stay-at-home mom just wasn’t enough for me. Realizations can be a real bitch, but then again, apparently so can I.

Is that the sound of bitterness I hear? Hell yeah, that’s bitterness! Bitterness, resentment, flattened self-esteem, all topped off with a steaming dollop of self-loathing. Pretty, isn’t it? Self-realizations are never pretty. No one ever wakes up one day and realize hey, I’m kind of a wonderful person. Instead, your realizations humble you with the knowledge that you aren’t as nice, or as smart, or as great as you thought you were.

However, after all the shock and disappointment in myself wore off, I began to realize that even though these realizations were a devastating blow to my self-esteem, I actually came out better for it in the end. With my newfound self-awareness I learned to modify my expectations and reevaluate what I wanted from life and how I planned to go out and get it.

I confided all my dirty little realizations to my husband. Every. Last. One. Even though it nearly killed me to admit it all, my husband accepted my bitter confessions with all the generosity and understanding of any truly good and loving man. He didn’t judge or quibble about my feelings, instead he reminded me that they were my thoughts and feelings and I had every right to have them, but that perhaps I should cut myself some slack on the whole self-loathing part. I readily took his advice and forgave myself for feeling the way I did and for being human. Unburdening myself was cathartic and I am a better person for it. I am more accepting of my shortcomings and am learning (slowly, oh so very slowly) to be patient with my future.