As things were slowly, almost imperceptibly deteriorating in our marriage, I would ask X, “What do you love about me?” It was a question of desperation. What do you see in me? Do you see me? How do you see me? Where are you? His answer was always underwhelming – “I don’t know, you make me laugh, I like spending time with you.” It was vague and sad.
Now that he’s gone, I’m working hard to shift my attention and care away from him and to me. This is an uncomfortable place to be because I haven’t done this in a long time, and I’m not really sure I ever really liked myself. I’m starting to now. It happens in spurts, but I’m noticing it.
One thing I’ve noticed is that, as I list the things I’m grateful for, I’ve started to mention things in myself that I’m grateful for – like my strength in standing back up, or my desire to handle this with integrity – not just external things like my bed (which I’m eternally grateful for!) In therapy today my therapist commented on how I’m beginning to like myself. I jumped in and said, “Sometimes. I don’t sustain it.” She said it’s just fine and a good step in the right direction. So my thought tonight is that maybe I should be asking myself, What do I love about me?
Tonight I have a couple of answers.
- I’m honest. I struggle to fib. I’m honest with my friends and family. I’m honest with myself (at least I’m getting better).
- I am funny and love to laugh and make others laugh.
- I am just fine singing loud and strong, dancing for all it’s worth!
- I enjoy things like gardening and knitting and making jelly and depression glass.
- I’m strong and resilient. Things can come at me and I just roll with it. Well, I might fuss a little first. But then I roll with it!
- I feel all the feelings. I’m particularly proud of this one. I’ve committed, from the moment he left, that I would feel every feeling. I wouldn’t be numb any more. And it has strangely made me stronger. I don’t really understand why, but I feel that noticing and naming my feelings as they come, that being honest about each feeling, has made me stand taller.
That’s all I’ve got for now. I know it seems strange to focus on what I love about myself. But I really need to believe that I’m worthy of love and belonging. And I can’t do that if I don’t even love myself.