Flashback to July 22, 2012 …
“I am satisfied that the more unkindly a wife is treated, the less attractive she becomes. She loses pride in herself. She develops a feeling of worthlessness. Of course it shows.”*
I have been thinking about this quotation a lot since I left my husband six months ago. I think it is safe to say that by that time, my self-esteem was in the toilet and had been flushed several times. I have often commented to close friends that when I arrived at my parents’ I was the “fat girl with glasses.” And it wasn’t situational. That was my life. That was who I had become — a dejected, unkempt, homely second-grader. That is how I was living my life.
As the divorce proceedings are drawing to a close, I am in transition again — thrust into the world as a single woman in her early thirties. I didn’t think I was ready, but I am getting there. I have spent so long in survival mode that I had forgotten what it felt like to live and breathe. I am remembering. Slowly.
I just spent more than a month away from my children. To say I missed them is the understatement of the century. Most days I felt as though two appendages had been torn from my body. But in the midst of my personal hell, something happened that I did not expect. I started to remember who I am … who I was before all the trauma. Under all the layers of agony, mental anguish, depression, anxiety, panic, turmoil, and paranoia, there was a person. Me. I hadn’t seen her in a while. She came out to visit during those few weeks. I like her. I think maybe I’ll keep her around from now on.
During my “me” time, something else unexpected happened. I started getting a little bit of male attention. Weird, right? It seems as though I am not utterly repulsive to the male gender after all! Could it be? I just might have a little bit of appeal left. And confidence? Maybe a smidgen. And as much as I hate to admit it, a wink from a cute guy at the grocery store made me walk a little taller one day. Getting asked out a couple times didn’t hurt either. Why do I hate to admit this? Because I was hoping I could fix my self-esteem issues on my own. I wish I didn’t need a handsome man to fill that need. But let’s be honest: having a couple guys show interest has made a big difference for me.
I feel like I’m digging out these aspects of myself like an archaeologist excavating dinosaur bones. The self-worth, confidence, and social skills are in there somewhere; I just have to dust them off. It sounds strange, but I really am having to talk myself into being okay with being a person and a woman again now that I’ve lost my definitive role as “wife.” At least I still have the ever-familiar and beloved title of “mother.” Now I just need to get to work digging out all the shattered fragments of my “self” from the wreckage.
*Quotation from Gordon B. Hinckley, “Our Solemn Responsibilities,” Ensign, Nov. 1991