Updated: Sep 21, 2020
I am walking through my second divorce at 39 with less than four months left until I am 40. I spent my 30s in back-to-back failed marriages. I am intelligent. I feel beautiful. I am accomplished. I am a good mother. However, I am not sure how to love myself from a position of strength and confidence wherein that kind of internal love is my source of unwavering strength and graceful confidence. Instead I feel doubt then I think doubt. I undermine myself at every second, third, and fourth step independent of the success of the first step.
I am assuming that this gap in understanding of what it means to be love is a fundamental contributor to why I did not maintain a position of feminine strength and confidence with the two men I called husband. I allowed manipulation and control from each of them whether they agree that that is what they did or not. It felt like manipulation and control to me. It felt like manipulation because each got me to distrust myself further and control because each of them effectively changed my behavior to match each of their preferences. The experience was subtle in each relationship like the wild horse being slowly tamed and fenced in over time. I broke free from the first marriage only to get roped in and caged back up in the second. In both marriages, it felt like each man was happier when I was quiet, complacent, dependent, subservient, and small. I am none of those things.
It felt easier in the moment to do the behavior that seemed to make the husband happier. This tactic initially reduced conflict and fights. Become quiet and stay quiet. Get angry and resentful on the inside. Have an outburst. Get quiet again. Slip up. Try to be quiet again. More resentment. I did not realize that I did not have to be quiet at all. Perhaps each relationship would not have continued beyond dating if I did not compromise my nature. I did not realize until today, Sept. 19, 2020, that I was compromising my nature. Perhaps if I had been aware of and remained mindful of my nature without apology then maybe I could have prevented these scenarios altogether. I do not wish that. My son is a gift to me. I call him my sunshine. Because of the order of events, I would not have him without these two men.
So, what do I do now in this moment? Since I am at least incrementally improving in identifying logic, I suppose that I could start with honoring my nature. Okay, awesome. What is my complete nature? How does one fully know his or her nature? Is what I feel the same as my nature? I do not know, but I also do not know where else to start.
So, I feel like I am a force. I feel an unending source of energy. I feel excitement. I feel passion and desire for all sorts of different things. I feel obsessive about wanting to be better each day. I feel that I am allowed to feel strong. I feel that I am allowed to have a powerful voice. I feel that I am allowed to walk in the direction that I think is the right direction without second-guessing myself.
What would happen if I lived each of this feelings and thoughts at the same time? Does anyone live these kinds of feelings and thoughts at the same time? What am I teaching my son if I do not live these kinds of feelings and thoughts at the same time?
That brings me back to thinking about how much my son is a gift to me. If other people allow us to see reflections of ourselves, then the reflection my son gives me is a picture that my five-year-old self needed nearly 35 years ago. I do not want my son to be intimidated by and avoid or try to change independent, intelligent, and confident women. I do not want him to feel that he must be smarter than his partner to have validity in his manhood. Five-year-old Shannon was independent, intelligent, and confident. Life events that included abandonment, poverty, and extreme Christianity squashed her sense of independence and confidence and replaced them with fear. Her intelligence was compromised as a result. Intelligence is not the same as being smart. Intelligence is the ability to learn. Being smart is having knowledge on a topic. Little Shannon and young adult Shannon could have more confidently applied her intelligence in the topics she adored like physics but did not realize that she was capable of mastering. She confused that not being smart yet in physics meant that she did not have the intelligence for physics. I am amazed at how life events can shape our paths.
I am also reminded as I write that as a little girl I was taught to be seen and not heard. I can start to see the source of my behavior pattern now. To be seen and not heard meant staying quiet and out of the way, containing myself in general without needing to be reminded, and remaining tethered to the watchful adult’s eyes. Oddly, it would upset my second husband if I was not sitting in the same room as him doing the activity that he preferred, which was often watching TV. I do not like sitting to sit. I like doing. I like thinking. I like things that create. To avoid the conflict and exercise of having to explain that I did not feel like sitting, I would find endless chores in the kitchen where I did not have to be near the TV or pieces of furniture that require sitting. Why did I have to find an excuse like chores to avoid feeling contained, though? Why couldn’t I simply do the un-contained thing that I preferred? It seems like I am learning what it means to be true to self as I type this. Thank god enlightenment is on the horizon. Daybreak is my favorite time of day. Maybe 40 is my daybreak to once and for all be all of me, confidently and with strength. I want to confidently be the love that I want to feel, which I imagine would feel like strength. Does life require these kinds of trials to learn how to do that? How do I remove time to experience the miracle now of finally learning what it means to be the love that I want to feel? I am the love. There is no external source. I believe this. At what point does a belief finally turn into an experience? How will I know when I experience it? Does it matter to ask these questions? I feel like a toddler with all these questions. My dad would tell me to trust the process. If that is what makes the anxiety stop, then I will trust that I am the love that I want to feel. I am making that statement with my eyes closed in faith, then peeking my left eye open to see if anything has changed. Nope, not yet. The good news is that I can try again by closing that left eye in renewed faith and trust again and again. Thank god.