I know that our separation came as a huge shock to everyone who knew us, because we were the "perfect" couple. We had the "perfect" family. We live in a lovely home, drive nice cars, go to church together every Sunday, go on date night every Friday, eat family dinners together, and do all of the other things that happy families do. But the truth is, its not always as good as it looks.
I have talked to too many men and women over the last few months to believe that our situation is totally unique. We are not the only ones suffering and I feel compelled to share in a really authentic way what part I played. The breaking point did not come because of a drug addiction or marital infidelity, or any host of BIG issues that people suspect in situations like ours. It came because of seemingly innocuous practices that built up over years.
This is why I am so passionate about HEAL MOM FIRST. If you are not happy and healthy, neither is your marriage, and neither are your kids. It's that simple.
1. I relied on him to make me happy. 'You are my Everything!" "I don't know what i would do without you!" "You make me so happy!" These are all phrases that we hear daily and they sound great on the surface. Who doesn't want to hear someone say those things? But being in charge of someone else's happiness is not a burden anyone should have to carry. In my life, this simply meant that if He was having a good day, I was having a good day. If he was having a grumpy day, I was having a grumpy day. I have learned that one of the most important skills you need to develop is the ability to CREATE JOY for yourself.
2. I used my family relationships to define my value. I felt like I had value because I was a good Mom. I had value because I was a good wife. We had value because we were a happy, forever family. My worth as a person was completely wrapped up in these roles, which are important, but had become TOO important in my life. I have value because I am a daughter of God, because I am alive, because I can serve and make a difference in the lives of everyone I touch. My family are some of those people, but those relationships are not the only thing that defines me. When we define OUR value based on someone else, we feel the need to control how that person shows up and that is not cool.
3. I was a perfectionist. I really love to stretch and grow and develop. That's a good thing, and I believe a God-given desire to become more like Him. Perfectionism happens when your desire to be better, which in perfectionists is fueled by a deep innate fear of not being enough, becomes more important to you than your own health and happiness or the health and happiness of those around you. Another key component of perfectionism is that no matter how hard you try, its never good enough. I chose a lot of good things. I chose exercise, and reading and mentoring, and homeschooling, and clean eating, and the list goes on. Those are all GOOD things. But somehow I was never good enough for myself and that meant that I had to keep trying and pushing in a never-ending cycle. Thats no fun to live with.
4. I allowed other people's expectations of me (us) to dictate my actions, and I expected my family to go along. You know how this looks, because most of us live it every day. The neighbors lawn is literally greener than ours, so we need to work on our lawn so we won't bring shame on the neighborhood. The church choir needs more members and everyone knows we sing, therefore we must join the choir and attend practice every Sunday. The school needs volunteers and good moms always volunteer, therefore I must volunteer. It's not that taking care of lawns, singing in the choir, or volunteering at school are bad things, but when you are drowning in the requirements of everyday life, they are not essential things. The truth is that when we over commit ourselves because we feel its required or expected of us, we are giving our power away to people who don't deserve it.
5. I was blinded by pride. I am a super spiritual person. I study my scriptures every day. I meditate and pray a lot. I attend church faithfully and I try really hard to live a good life. It is amazing to me that in the case of my most important relationship, I was blind. I couldn't see that I was so fixated on what I thought was best for our family and our marriage that I didn't allow any room for him to have a different opinion. I didn't see it at the time, but it really was "my way or the highway". This shows up in small things like how chores are done and what movies we choose to watch and big things like what standards we set for our kids. The truth is that in marriage, there must be total humility and total willingness to submit in both partners. There can be very few absolutes in a successful relationship.
This may be uncomfortable for you to read. If you see yourself in some of these behaviors and you want to "do the work", I invite you to join our FB group Heal Mom First-Becoming Healthy Happy Moms and find a supportive group of women in the same boat. For more structured support, message me for information on my upcoming group mentoring program where I will coach a small group through some really powerful tools that will help you develop personal habits and practices to Create JOY, shed guilt and shame and learn to manage your emotions so you can be the person you want to be.