What I have learned over time is that what I thought would make me happy didn’t. I came to understand that all the things that were supposed to provide happiness in my life; relationship ,status, and money were in and of themselves meaningless and empty.
When I look back I see some hard times. My father was a very strong influence in my life. While he was charismatic, dependable, and fun-loving, he was also a demanding, quick-triggered Bronx boy. My mother was perfectly suited for him. Beautiful and yielding to his every desire. Their chemistry was undeniable, yet their personalities and lifestyle were worlds apart. My dad came from a generation were women should be seen and not heard. I was NOT that girl! When I did speak up it, the fighting between us began.
After graduating college I headed to Manhattan to pursue my career- only to find the glamorous life, high fashion and fast men.
As I began dating the theme was always the same. The boys I chose were handsome, gregarious hotheads, living on the edge just like dad and as a result my relationships were tumultuous. I continued to try to make relationships right that were wrong because I was reliant on my partners for my happiness and completely gave up who I was to fit into what they wanted. I did this to get the approval I had always been seeking, but in doing so I was losing a part of myself! It never occurred to me that I was totally dependent on the reactions of men in my life to give me a sense of self-worth. I was still someone looking outside herself to get her needs met.
Looking back I now see how I disregarded many of my values to gain approval and acceptance from the men in my life.
We choose the men in our lives at different times for different reasons. We start out in bliss only to find out through every day living and children that they are no longer who we thought they were..and perhaps they feel the same.
As I approached 40 I viewed my marriage in a whole new light. I wanted to continue to develop and grow, and my husband did not. I wanted a relationship with someone who shared my desire to be positive and progressive. As I continued to reevaluate my values, the simple truth was that the old ways of living were no longer working for me. The children were grown, and “something more” was surrounding me. I had outgrown the person I was when I entered into my marriage and my spirit was nudging me toward change.
When you ask women why the stay you will usually hear “ for the children”. I said that for years, and while that is a big “piece” to the picture, the real hard truth is that women stay because they are uncertain of their ability to stand on their own and become self-reliant.
With unwavering faith, prayer, and support it is possible to overcome the fear of change! It takes courage to look inside and discover who we are beyond the confines of our narrow upbringing, but there is a life of fulfillment waiting on the other side of fear.
For a long time I decided to take a break from romance and work on having a relationship with myself! Now when I meet someone I ask myself different questions. What aspects of him am I really attracted to and why? What are his interests and hobbies? Is he complete within himself rather than having someone complete him? Will he be supportive and encouraging to me as I continue to pursue my interests?
I’ve come to understand that I had to experience who I wasn’t in order to find out who I was! I am now more proactive in planning my own future and utilizing my potential to the fullest. My slate is clean and the canvas is mine to paint. It took me a long time to say with conviction that I have succeeded finding happiness and fulfillment in the life that I have designed. I can say with confidence that the adversities I faced only strengthened me and encouraged the growth that would make me the woman I am proud to be today! I have saved myself. Now it’s just a question of whose coming along for the ride!