Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Not about the divorce

People ask me why I started this blog, why am I sharing my experience? I answer the same way each time - I believe that I can use my own experience to help others.

In my last post, I talked about replaying my experience with my ex-husband in my mind. It took a very long time to make sense out of everything that happened to me. Replaying my experience helped me to learn so many important things about myself. It forced me to ask myself some questions that were painful to answer. The most obvious questions - why did I believe all of Rick's stories, how did I miss the obvious warning signs, why did I accept the emotional abuse my ex-husband dished out several times during our marriage, why me.

When I was in my twenties, I believed that one day I would be married and wanted to have children. In my thirties, I thought I was comfortable being single and was successful in my career. I still wanted to meet someone but I wasnt' hanging out in bars to do so. Afterall, you don't know who you are going to meet in a bar. The workplace - that was a safe place to meet someone. As much as I wanted to believe that I wasn't vulnerable to a charming man, when I replayed my experience, I could see clearly how vulnerable I was. What woman would walk away from a man who was intelligent, compassionate, and kind?

Why did I believe that Rick wouldn't have an affair during our marriage when I knew that his first marriage ended as a result of an affair he had with a woman at the office? Why did I believe that my marriage would be different? It certainly was different - he had four affairs during five years.

Why did I allow Rick to abuse me emotionally? Did I even know that it was emotional abuse? Why did I believe, even for a moment, some of the things he said about me? Rick told me I was mentally unstable in April 2001 during a discussion about our marriage. He was attempting to end the marriage and I was sobbing, trying to get him to understand what I could do to make our marriage better. I wasn't mentally unstable - I was reacting to someone who I believe was exploiting my love. Did I believe Rick when he told me that I only gave 20 percent to my marriage while he was giving 150 percent? For a split second, I questioned whether he might be right? Why did I do that? Rick told me that I made it hard for him to see his children. Did I believe that and if I did, why?

I answered my questons during my journey to heal from my painful experience. For me, it was about a lack of respect for myself. And if you don't respect yourself, then you attract people that don't respect you. In my opinion, Rick never respected me. It appeared that he did, what with all the compliments and flattery, the personal and professional support he showed me. But you don't consistently lie to someone who you respect.

I am delighted to say that I finally respect myself. I hope that by sharing my experience, I can help other women and men to find the same kind of self-respect.