Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Figuring Me Out, part 2

As I've said before, I've spent a lot of time the last few years trying to figure me out and what I want and need to be happy -- meaning lots of self help books, O! magazine, Internet searches, thinking, opening up to DH, etc. Part of the instigation for this was approaching 40. I found this really hard -- 30 was easy, 35 was no problem, but 40? Given the standard life expectancy 40 really is middle aged, chronologically (when I turned 30, my mother actually wrote in my card something about my now being middle aged -- if I was middle aged at 30, what did that make her at 54?). And I started thinking about about my hope and dreams and things I figured would never happen.

My dad died of cancer a few years ago and we found a journal he had kept for awhile during and around the time my parents marriage was falling apart (I was in high school). It was sad -- he wrote in there about the dreams he'd given up, always to please others (parents, wife) and he seemed to have very little happiness in his life. And how he was always waiting for things to be "just right" before doing things. I did not want to be like that, only having regrets, never doing what I wanted/needed, waiting till it was too late.

So, I started working on me and doing things I wanted to do. I started slow, mostly with books, fiction and non-fiction. I had never been a big fan of romance (can't stand bodice ripper covers; stupid, weak, ineffectual women; predictable plots; stupid euphemisms), but I had discovered Diana Gabaldon a few years earlier, then Sara Donati and Katie MacAlister. The covers were tasteful, characters seemed real and complex, plots were interesting, there was humor and pathos, and I could relate to these women. Reading these stories made it glaringly clear that I had no such romance or bond with my husband, and I most desperately wanted to have something somewhat similar to what the characters in these books had.

Contrary to popular opinion, this did not mean I listed all my husband's failings or worked out ways to get him to change. I knew that my life and marriage could only be changed if I changed myself. So that's what I started to do. It was not easy -- it never is when you're looking deep into yourself and determining what you like and don't like about yourself and what needs to be done to increase the likes and decrease the don't likes. And I will always be a work in progress for the rest of my life.

to be continued ...

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