I have a friend who is going through the pain of divorce. Watching from the sidelines is bringing back some memories of when I divorced Dumbo. It also reminds me of when other friends have split up. So I thought I'd share some of the things I learnt from the "been there, done that" club.
The most notible lesson I learnt is that you trundle through life thinking "I'm an intelligent, independent person who stands up for herself and never lets herself be put down" and then you discover that in the effort to retain your relationship with the ex, you've allowed him to do exactly that. For the past xxx years, he has dictated how you live your life, what you listen to, who you see. You jump through hoops, just to make him happy.
In the case of one friend, it meant buying a motor-cycle and riding it into London to work everyday, even though she was terrified of the journey. From the day they split up, the bike has sat at her parents unused.
For me, it was putting up with the intolerable. Several intolerables. My opinions were worthless; my music was trash (to this day, I hate "Blue Oyster Cult" on principle and I'm not that fond of Bach); hell, he's a chain smoker and I used to buy him cigarettes (and I am anti-smoking), it was just easier than arguing. I'm not the tidiest person in the world - I don't have the eye for neatness - but I like to think I keep the house clean; I lived in a pigstye for several years, because I refused to tidy up after him and he wouldn't clean up after himself. When we moved, I put up with crap lighting because he liked the light-fittings, which meant that I couldn't do the crafts that I loved. Oh, and I lived with his infidelity for far longer than I would have thought possible, because he made me feel trapped. And worthless. As far as I'm concerned now, it was emotional and mental abuse.
What I'm trying to say is: don't let your "self" be lost in a relationship. No partner is worth it. The right partner will treasure you as you are and encourage you to grow.
DH has had the pleasure of watching me reclaim my knitting and my singing - they are part of what makes me "me". He saw the look of amazement on my face the day I said "hey, I'm back", when I felt like long-dormant parts of me had re-awakened. One of the reasons I love him is that he always encourages me to be me and has never tried to mould me into someone else.
- Pam (who vows to graft the toes of his socks tonight - he deserves to wear them)