Most of the time lately, I cruise along just fine. Better than fine, actually. It feels like so much hard stuff is behind me now- and while I still have hard stuff in front, it’s hard stuff of my choosing, and not someone else’s mess anymore. I’m not foolish enough to think it’s all smooth sailing from here, but I’ve been in such a hard season for so long, and I know seasons change- so it can’t stay this way forever.
I’m in school. As a matter of fact, I’m killing it at school- I have a grad program picked out and a better than fair shot of getting admitted. There is even a potential plan post grad school, in two short years, about which I am reservedly excited. My kids are doing pretty well- I mean, they act like regular kids, which is a good thing, right? We have Little House, and a paid-for working, decent car. The roof doesn’t leak and we live in the best ward in the entire world. My kids have great teachers and wonderful friends, and I do too. I have intellectual pursuits and grown-up stuff that brings me happiness and satisfaction.
So how come, sometimes, when I have a difficult day, do I still feel like I have failed? Tonight, I was talking with a good friend, and he gently pointed out- the way only a good friend can- that I needed to stop beating myself up for marrying David. It stopped me short and suddenly my eyes were swimming with hot tears. Because he was right. There is a tiny part of me that secretly feels if only I had done more, tried harder, been better… that somehow, I would not have lost everything. There is a tiny part that feels I should have known better when I chose whom I married- like I should have seen and heeded signs that I missed. And I blame myself. Intellectually, I understand the folly of that thinking- I understand and recall all too well how not true reality makes that idea. And yet it’s still there, like a rusty, forgotten bucket that I trip on in the dark.
I don’t know how to fix this. If I know what needs doing, I am unflinching and fearless about tackling it. But this? Here? I have no idea how heal that part of my heart. Bitterness has mercifully been absent from me for most of this process- a fact for which I am profoundly grateful. I don’t want bitterness within a country mile of my heart… but how do I cull the seeds of rust from that old bucket and keep my heart supple and open? How do I keep my heart from turning to stone? How do I forgive myself?
7 thoughts on “Medusa’s Heart”
No one can lie to you, it will take a long time for your heart to heal. It will take a while to stop blaming yourself. It will take longer to stop seeing the potential hurt from others.
But… But! But!!!!
You are already on the right track. Look at all the great things you are doing for yourself, for your family, and for your friends. The only person you need to be successful for is yourself. And though it may be hard sometimes to feel successful…look around. For all the reasons you stated in the beginning of your post you are already succeeding brilliantly!
It is always easier to look back and say what if, or I should have known better. But honestly… I know you did the best you could. Don’t look back and ask what you could have changed, look forward to what you can change, and what you are already changing!
All I can think to say, and it may be entirely the wrong thing to say, is that no matter how poor a choice you may feel that you made, there are 3 beautiful children that are nearly a direct result of that choice, and despite everything I don’t think you’d trade them away. You didn’t get what you expected or wanted out of your marriage, but you did get them. It’s hard to call that a waste or a mistake. It’s just hard (HARD) and raw and deeply emotive – the whole thing. So, have a good Meet the Robinsons fest and keep moving forward. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. It’s a goodly portion of what we are intended to do with life, no matter how you slice it.
It just takes time. Lots and lots of time. So just go day by day and do your best, because that’s really all you can do. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t stink, though.
I’m so grateful that you have good friends like this one who eased you towards fixing this. We all have those hidden beliefs that lie under the surface and sabotage us. Recognizing it hurts but is a huge step in resolving it.
Our lives are different but I’ve had a similar question lately. In fact I wrote this in my journal a few hours ago: “I need a deeper more open heart, while shrinking because of the pain from opening it just a crack. The kind of love I want and seem to need takes bravery and a willingness to be hurt.”
As for time healing, there is always a new wound, so time will only make the scab into a scar. To me, it has to be about more than just letting time pass.
Church talks I’ve heard recently point to praying for God’s love, and reading scriptures that describe what real love is. I’m still trying to make the connections between those ideas and everyday application. The knee jerk reaction of pulling back because of past experiences gets in the way.
I like to think of it this way – would I treat another person the way I am treating myself? Forgiving yourself is very very hard, but you know, you didn’t do ANYTHING WRONG. Marrying David was a good choice. It could have worked out fabulously. In fact, it did, for a lot of years.
Forgive yourself for not having a crystal ball or for failing divination, which is really a very imprecise branch of magic, anyway.
I am in the midst of a divorce right now. I spoke with my mission president several months ago when I knew that this was where my marriage was headed. I was filled with guilt and anguish over the state of my life. He looked me in the eye and said, “You need to remember that God is not sorry.” He explained that although I am mourning and questioning so many thing that have happened over the years, God is not sorry that I married my husband. Heavenly Father is not consumed with regret for the decisions I have made and the things that have happened. There were good things that came from our marriage–beautiful kids and some experiences that have helped me to grow, develop and change. I could not be the person I am today without them.
Heavenly Father doesn’t rejoice in my suffering, but He can see the growth it has wrought in me in spite of the pain and sorrow I have had to go through to get there. Forgiving yourself is hard, but it helps to think of how Heavenly Father looks at us–with eternal perspective and infinite love. I hope you can find those same comforting connections in your own heart and mind.
Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. It’s been so helpful to me as I go through this experience too.
It is a useless persuit to beat yourself up over the red flags you could have seen (trust me, I do it too). If I honestly look back at my marriage, the good and the bad, I can recognize that there were very happy times and wonderful memories back before they were tainted with current circumstances. Like others have said, I will never regret my marriage. It gave me three gorgeous children and a wealth of knowledge and experience that had shaped me into the individual I am today.
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