Christine, Wondering

Random Musings of a Human Becoming

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Jealousy, Grief and Learning

I've been doing a lot of reading recently, particularly of a most wonderful blog I've found, Getting Past Your Past. It's all about the process of grieving and letting go, and about learning from your past, so that you can avoid making the same mistakes in relationships that have led you to traumatic break-ups in the first place. I can strongly recommend it. I'm learning a lot from it - many of which are things I already kind of knew, but can no longer avoid when they're being so vibrantly waved in my face!

I can't help but feel jealous of the people I know who married young. I wanted to be a young wife and mother - there's something bewitching about that feeling of being youthful and rosebud-like and falling in love - and I will never have that chance now. In two months I will be 28 years old. The odds of me being married before I'm 30 are next to none, and motherhood is as unimaginably far off as ever.

I also feel jealousy towards the people I know who are my age and are now getting married after having been together for years and years. I've missed that chance too. If I meet someone and we are together for years and years before getting married then I will be getting into my mid 30s, I will have missed my best and safest childbearing years, I'll never have that gorgeous youthful bloom in marriage or motherhood. And it hurts. I feel like I'm out of time, that happiness can only be a cheap, second-rate sort that can never be quite as special as if it happened in my 20s.

Deep down I know this isn't true. But in bad moments part of me feels like my life has been burned to the ground and it's too late to bother rebuilding. I feel like people are laughing at me for still trying to make something of my love-life at my age - shouldn't I just realise that I'm on the shelf and that's my lot in life? Shouldn't I just be happy with my career and my cat, because worthwhile girls are married by now?

A lot of this comes from the cultural belief, still very strong even in our emancipated society, that marriage is the goal and endgame for all women. I know it's not, when I'm rational. I know it's a particular step along a lifelong road of interpersonal relationships, a happenstance not an achievement, etc. But it's programmed in on a primal level to want that security - and yes, the glory of the wedding day. There are very few women who do not want it. The jealousy of those who have it, and the fear of never having it myself, are well and truly tied up in the grief I'm experiencing over the end of the relationship with S.

And I know it's something I need to break free from. The more I work through my anger and grief over the break-up, the more I realise that I kept negotiating with S, and putting up with his bad behaviour, long after I should have told him to get stuffed. That willingness to be mistreated was rooted in fear - the fear of losing his promises of a wedding and kids and a loving home. I know objectively that I should have kicked up a massive fuss when S's control behaviours started to show. I know I should have stood firm on wanting to be able to both enjoy our lifestyles, rather than him enjoying his and me constantly trying to compromise so that I didn't affect it. I should, really, have driven him away months and months ago by insisting on being a woman rather than a doormat. I shouldn't have waited and hoped and let him walk all over me because there were diamonds hanging in the balance. And all the more so after he told me he'd bought the ring and was waiting for the right moment after all of his stresses had eased. If that wasn't emotional blackmail, I don't know what is.

And again, it boils down to self-worth. Self-esteem has never been my strong point. For most of my life I've held my self-worth to be a measure of how other people perceived me - which is a self-fulfilling prophecy of disaster. It has led me again and again into the trap of being with guys who use that low self-esteem to get their own way in everything, to appear to build you up while actually tearing you apart. You can't please that kind of man, can't ever be "the one" for them, because they will keep you weak and punish you for your weakness in the same breath. And I fall for it again and again because I'm running out of time and the fear of missing out seems to justify the pain.

Let me say, right now, in public, and where I can be reminded of it: NEVER AGAIN.

Building my own independent sense of self-worth will be a long process. I made mistakes years ago that have left me in a financial hole, and I have self-discipline problems that leave my house messy (not dirty / unsanitary, just terribly disorganised) and leave me always scrambling to catch up in my professional life. I don't even know where to begin changing. I can change the symptoms with to-do lists and budgets, but the underlying problem is always fighting against me. I want so much to be free from all of that - managing my money effectively to get out of the mess, having a home that is easy to take care of not a constant struggle, knowing that I'm doing my best in my job. I just don't know how, and I despise myself for not knowing. And at the same time I know that all the negative emotion in the world won't help, and I try to love myself, be kind to myself, give myself a helping hand to get out of the hole . . . I think I've stopped making sense.

I feel so messed up today.

I feel so alone and unwanted and I know I'll never get finished everything I need to do before the end of the holidays and I can't seem to stop pouring it all out in word documents and blogs. I'd probably feel better if I got up and did something but the words keep coming and my house is so empty and yet so full of inanimate objects screaming at me about the past and the present and the future. If I go out I'm just dodging what needs to be done around the house, but being here is so hard. Maybe I should just go back to bed for a few days.

PS: Dad just rang me to say that he and my stepmother are finally, definitely and completely separating. It wasn't exactly a surprise because it's been on the cards for years, but I'm surprised that it's really happening. It's weird. I don't like my stepmother and have only recently learned to tolerate her with equanimity, and my stepbrother and stepsister I've never been close to although I've watched them grow up. More disentanglements, more grief . . . it was interesting to talk honestly to my Dad for the first time in years, hear him express his emotions, and to find that strangely they're similar to mine - glad it's over, not sorry to be moving on, but so disappointed at the loss of the expected future. We had a good talk and I think it helped both of us. But so strange in some ways, especially when I was having such a bad day, to connect with the parent I least expected to be able to connect with. Life is weird.


Yeah I think this post is very interesting too.
I felt a lot like you for a long time, that I was never gonna get married, I'd always wanted to be a young mum, that I was getting too old etc.
But I do believe that you could be married by the time you're 30 Christine. I never thought it, but Andrew and I got married 15 months after we met. Crazy I know, but it can happen. We were engaged 7 months after our first date (which was like a week after we met!). So it can happen.

I will be praying for you hon, that God will bring an amazing man into your life, who will love and cherish you, and treat you as the woman you deserve to be.


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