I hope you are all happy and well. It's been almost a year (well, exactly 11 months on the 6th of May) since my marriage broke. In half. Never to be fixed again. While I know that maybe not many people would open their bleeding heart to the world over such a personal matter, I have found it to be therapeutic, and important to share to other women who have experienced the same thing. Consider this group therapy. These are my personal lessons learnt, and my experience may be very different to yours or others people's divorce, so you may or may not relate or agree. I do not criticise or judge others who have taken a different journey, I am merely sharing my own with you.
DON'T PUT A RING ON IT
Despite what Beyonce says, sometimes it's best to NOT put a ring on it, especially when it's not going well. It's always easy to blame others for things we may be responsible for. It's just our way of protecting ourselves and our ego, but the truth it, when you own your mistakes, you are able to learn from them, grow and not repeat the same ones.
My relationship with my ex was wrong from the very beginning. It was always hard work, and I was constantly suppressing my own wants, needs, and personality to fit into what 'I thought he wanted me to be. All the signs were there from the beginning, I chose to ignore them, because I was insecure, and wanted so desperately to be liked and loved. I became someone who is not Anastasia, just to fit with someone who I was never meant to fit with.
I take full responsibility for my actions, and I don't regret them, because I may never have learnt my lesson if I had not lived to experience it. My mom says we must 'learn from other's mistakes' but if you never learn from your own, you'll only live half a life because you'll never take any risks for fear of failure. Fear kills more dreams than failure ever will.
I loved him so much, but now I see what an unhealthy, one-sided and needy love that was. I was constantly trying to keep him happy, to avoid any argument because he had a terrible temper, and be fully supportive of his goals and his interests, even taking up a sport simply to have something in common with this person. We didn't seem to fit in any other way, so I thought my moulding myself to fit around his life and his interests it would be good enough to keep us together. The sad thing is, in the process I lost me.
COMMUNICATION IS KEY
The wedding and they days thereafter were really the magnifying glass that was held up to our relationship. After our first anniversary, his mum got ill and I was there for her, because I loved her and considered her my family. Also, I was there for her, so that he-who-shan't-be-named could focus on his career and business. I thought that an experience like this, would pull us closer, as it normally does in most families. While it did for a little while, as soon as his mum was well again, I was no longer needed.
I cannot begin to describe how painful it is to hear from someone that you've given everything to, that you are not loved, wanted or needed. That you are not family to them and that you never will be. We all say things in anger, but some things can never be taken back. If you or your partner is unwilling to seek counselling together and individually, then the relationship simply cannot be mended once the trust is lost.
Something I also learnt was that communication has less to do with language and much more to do with vocabulary and life experiences, personal growth and so forth. I thought the communication difficulties we were having was because English is my first language, and Greek my second, where as his English was not sufficient enough to have a real conversation. It turns out that our communication problems were in fact our different personalities, our different family values and our very different views on what love and life is.
While is is true opposites attract, there are opposites which can bring out the best in each other, and encourage personal growth. There are also opposites where one party drains the other of any and all energy. The book The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield really explains this concept very well, and describes 4 key personality types (or 'Control Dramas').
ROAD TO RECOVERY
Before the break up I went to see an amazing psychologist to help me deal with my stress. I felt like I was drowning, and I thought it had to do with my not being able to cope with work related stress. In our sessions I slowly began to admit, and face the truth about my relationship. I always believed that all marriages are hard work. Our earliest example of a relationship is that of our parents. My parents relationship was not ideal (if there is such a thing) and so my views on marriage were very distorted too.
After the final big break up, mind you, I had packed my bags many times before, and he constantly threatened to leave, so the big break up actually meant me finding my own apartment. He never helped me as much in our six year relationship, as he helped me to move out of his life. We were finally on the same page...well, sort of.
I spent a couple of weeks in my pyjamas, crying and feeling sorry for myself, with outbursts of hurt and anger. Suddenly all the things that I didn't see before became clear as crystal. Things like he never said he loved me, he never made me feel good about myself, he always stared at other women while we were together, he would scream at me for no reason, he never once asked me what I wanted... all the shit you wanna slap your girlfriend for putting up with when she tells you about her bully boyfriend. Yep, it's always harder to take your own advice.
The first thing I did, which I felt was the only thing I had control over in my life, was go to a dietician to make a healthy eating plan. During my six year relationship, I went from over eating to under eating. Working out too much, to not working out at all due to injuries. I felt nothing was in my control, and the one thing I could control was my health. It was a high-protein / low-carb detox diet, which I still loosely follow now, a year later. I took the time I needed away from people, just me and Nephele (my kitty).
I also started teaching yoga again, something I used to love and enjoy for a long time before losing myself. It was also something that kept my body healthy and my energy feminine.
My mom was a real pillar of strength to me, and really the only person I would talk to. Some of her advice was obsolete (generation gap issues), but she was super supportive and still continues to be. In fact, my mother has always been my cheerleader, in my goals as a designer, becoming my own girl boss, and leaving my husband. The only thing my mom was not cheering on (and took a quiet resistance to) was my choice of man. In hindsight, mama really does know best!
ONE GOOD WOMAN IS WORTH A THOUSAND BITCHES
Life has a funny way of showing you what you sometimes choose to ignore. In my case, my marriage and my divorce really helped filter the gems from the dirt in terms of friendships. I truly believe the people we attract into our lives are a reflection of ourselves. I had low self esteem, which is why I let people (in my relationship, friendships and work) walk all over me. I never stood my ground, and because I wanted to be liked and seeked their approval, I was nothing but a stepping stone for many.
Naively, I believed that good people will get what they deserve, but I am learning that all people, good and bad, get what they believe they deserve. It's taken me a long time to ask for what I deserve, because I was hoping other people would see who and what I am and treat me according to my value. I treat all people equal, and am an open book. I never lie, and I never cheat. It's been a while now that I've said that I only want like minded people around me, who share the same values as me, and I've been attracting more and more new friends and guardian angels along the way who fit into my authentic lifestyle.
Some friends treated my break up as hot gossip, while others chose to completely stay away. The surprises were the ones who came closer and the new ones who were sent to me during a very difficult period to enlighten me. Even old friends who I haven't spoken to in years, and some of you, my lovely lovers, who reached out to me with small messages of support. I am so grateful and feel blessed for all the good that has come out of this.
FINDING LOVE AGAIN
I didn't expect to find love again so soon. I didn't trust anyone least of all, another man. I read the book 'The Art of Loving' by Eric Fromm. It blew my mind. It literally put every relationship in my life into perspective for me. The love I have for my parents, friends, siblings, and their love for me. The love I feel for you, strangers in every sense.
Between the Celestine Prophecy and the Art of Loving, these books along with other beliefs I've picked up along the journey to self development, have really helped me find myself again, and love myself. Something that I maybe have never done before, which is why I was looking for love outside of myself. The people I met, my psychologist, and a couple of guardian angel friends, were sent into my life to help me evolve and grow.
Even my ex was sent to me so that I could learn some lessons, before making space in my life for higher quality people to enter it. I understand that everyone enters and exits our lives at a specific time, for a specific reason. It's up to us to decode that reason and evolve as a spirit, and a human.
Very quickly, I started to feel like I knew myself again, and that I actually like Anastasia. The small circle of people who are in my life now share the same beliefs and, shall we say, almost the same spirit as me. All the decisions I take now regarding my work, my health and my direction in life are clear and bright. Not clouded in confusion. While I was living the life that was not suited to me, I was in a constant state of stress and anxiety. I now live in peace and clarity. Of course I have bad days, everyone does.
I met Mr. Fabulous almost as soon as I finished reading the Art Of Loving book, and it was like someone switched on the technicolor. I felt an instant connection, and a sense of familiarity and safety. I couldn't be happier with him, but also more importantly, without him too. The book so beautifully describes that love between two people is a choice. Not something that we helplessly 'fall into'. A partnership is the only relationship you will have to constantly work on, together, willingly and consciously. When people 'fall out of love' what we mean is that one or both have CHOSEN to stop loving the other.
I choose to love Mr Fabulous, because he makes me a better person, because in him I see a reflection of me and my best qualities. He chooses to love me for who I am, and also for who I want to become. In him I've found safety, but in me I've found strength. He offers support like a best friend would, and I feel I can be myself around him. In fact, both of us made it a point to be completely authentic with each other, so that we can see if we are in fact suited. Dating in your thirties can be tricky, but being in your thirties also means you know yourself better and that you have set certain standards which you want met.
Ironically someone once described me as 'too nice' as if it was a bad thing. Being nice, loving, and kind is a choice. I chose to be a good and kind person, and I chose to be around people who are the same. Being nice was never the problem. Being weak was. I'm still nice, but I'm also stronger, and I have the school of life to thank for it.
Love and light always