Breaking cycles is a hard thing to do. My parents divorced when I was ten and, though the overwhelming sigh of relief that came over our house after the divorce was refreshing, certainly, no one enters into marriage to fail.
My parents married young, still teenagers. My dad was an alcoholic and at the core of their issues was his drinking. Memories of my first ten years consisted of my mom crying, my dad in drunken rages and me hiding and trying to muffle the soundtrack of our sad and arduous existence.
I vowed to not repeat my mom’s mistakes.
I would be smarter than to put myself in a position like that. I went to college. I made it to 24 and I actually paid close attention to the amount of alcoholic beverages consumed by the men I dated. Naively thinking that if that was avoided, everything else would just fall into place.
I waited until I was 25 to marry. I married a non-alcoholic, had a handful of kids and we should be living happily ever after. But we’re not.
I’ve been a stay at home mom for many years. Frankly, it was a role I always struggled with. I was dependent on someone else for all things financial. I’ve been less than fulfilled, professional and personally, always feeling like something was missing, not living up to my potential. I have felt powerless in life and unable to stand on my own two feet, feet that I know were once quite competent. So for many years, I’ve recognized myself fading away into oblivion, little by little, the way my mom did, the way I swore I would not.
I see the anxiety in my kids’ eyes, like I had when I was young, will today be a good day, will they argue, will mom cry today? Truth is, my kids do not know their mom. They know a stressed out woman who is a shell of the person she used to be. They see a woman who no longer knows her worth and is full of self-doubt and insecurities. A woman who struggles to fake a smile and isn’t true to herself. A woman who has been guided by fear for too long.
I haven’t liked the person I’ve been for a while and I couldn’t blame my kids for not liking her either. I’ve just been going through the motions, constantly on edge, a stranger to myself. I haven’t been passionate about anything for a long time. I’ve been living for others, anticipating reactions and quelling irrational thoughts. I have alienated myself from much of the outside world and lost dear friends for fear of them finding me out. I’ve been ashamed of what I’ve become and have missed feeling alive. I haven’t taken care of myself and, in effect, probably been doing a shitty job of taking care of them. I haven’t set the example that I should have.
The vibrancy in my life has been deflated and I am trying to take it back. I am embarking on, what may be, the hardest hurdle I’ve ever had to cross. But the life I’ve been living, though it’s been my normal, has been anything but easy. I’m too tired to run from the truth anymore. I don’t want to defend a lie and live in denial anymore. I am swallowing my pride, admitting my fault, and starting over. I’m in control again. And I think that is a success.
image courtesy Loleia