I grew up in a violent dysfunctional family. My parents would hurl things at each other and scream and shout. I had a Mother who lived in a self-centred world and who demanded her own happiness before anything else. Her favourite phrase was ‘what about me…’. An only child, she boasted about setting her parents up against each other, manipulating them to get what she wanted. My father left her when I was 9 and from then on my role in life was to be responsible for her happiness and accept blame for her failings. I never understood why she became a parent. She openly told anyone who would listen that she never liked her children until they became teenagers when she could argue with them.
It was not surprising then that I married with low expectations of love, not really knowing what it was. My husband was a good man, kind but cold. Unable, or unwilling, to compliment or praise. Big on control. He lived in a self-centred world full of secrets and locked desks. He demanded I take care of his happiness and found me wrong for the failings in our relationship.
I compensated by becoming the best, most loving mother I could be and building my successful career. Gradually, little by little, I became numb. I began to persuade myself that living like this was ok and I was not worthy of anything more. When the intimate side of my marriage died I blamed myself and focussed instead on those things I deemed more important; being a good mother and keeping the family together. I kept this up for 17 years. But I was dying, slowly and surely inside. Denying the very existence of female hood, the right to intimacy and closeness, from someone who was supposed to love me. I never felt wanted, desired, cared for, nurtured. When we touched, accidentally in bed, he would freeze and move away. I was a non-being, invisible. I tried to talk to him but he claimed the subject was too embarrassing. He told me I was being selfish and I should be grateful for what I had. I believed him.
The lowest point came when I caught sight of myself in a changing room mirror. I saw my body afresh – scarred with motherhood, dimpled with cellulite, sagging with weariness and I burst into tears. No wonder your husband doesn’t want to touch you, I thought, you are disgusting. Even writing this now brings back the pain.
Each of us is responsible for our own happiness and the only person who could do something about my happiness was me. With a heavy heart I accepted that I had to make changes. I felt I had tried everything but now it was time to take control. I could still have one more stab at that elusive mercurial thing called love. What did it feel like? Was it possible for me to find it? I told myself that I owed it to myself to find out. So, accompanied by my beautiful daughter, I left my husband of 20 years. We set ourselves up in a rented house and the stress of it all caused me to loose my hair.
After a long period of grieving for my lost marriage, feeling a failure and recovering from those years of rejection, I embarked on the modern day quest for love by going on-line. What a hateful, demoralising experience. Being made to submit to the filter where everyone has a list and if you don’t tick all the boxes you are crossed off. Finding that one has been being discounted because of age, height or colouring. Spending time listening politely to perfectly nice men who talked about themselves, who showed no interest in me and then expected me to want a second date. One even spent the time advising me about investments in-between telling me how wonderful his ex-wife was and how surprised he was she had taken a lover. None of them had read my profile. The photo of the pretty smiling blonde, posted on my page, lured them all.
With waning enthusiasm I drifted on and off various sites with a growing disenchantment and a feeling that I could find better ways to spend my time. Then a man with a wide smile and laughing eyes contacted me. He looked interesting and funny. He seemed keen so I agreed to one last date and we met. He asked me all about myself, he had read my profile and he gave me a warm hug as I left. I drove home smiling all the way.
He is smart, funny, affectionate, crazy, spontaneous, sexy, tall and solvent and he adores me. It was so hard at first allowing myself to be loved and, even worse, being looked after. I struggled really hard with my desire to push him away. I was looking to find fault so I could convince myself that this was not to be. I was waiting for him to change, to find out that he didn’t really like me at all; that first thing in the morning I look rubbish; that I have mood swings and can be grumpy. He doesn’t care and when I tried to walk away he just smiled and said ‘do what you need to do; I am here for the long term’.
We have been together for nearly 2 years. For the first time in my life I now know what it feels like to be loved. To be desired, to be cared for, to be heard and cherished. To be me and still be wanted. To be blessed.