Divorce takes a toll on everyone involved. It can leave internal scars that are sometimes permanent. Regardless of who filed, both parties can be left with feelings of failure and deep, deep disappointment in themselves. Some of us sustain such a blow to the emotional and mental states, that we lose the love we had for ourselves.
When It Began
In my case, the loss of self-love began many years before my divorce was final. That fact was evident in many physical areas of my life. I had always loved makeup and rarely, if ever, left the house without applying it to perfection. I stopped taking the time to apply it after a while, though. I had always taken pride in my hair. After the abuse took its deepest toll, you would have been hard-pressed to find me with anything other than a ponytail. I just didn’t care. The saddest part of the reasoning behind that fact was that I didn’t care because he didn’t care. I had learned that regardless of what I did to my hair, he would never say anything about it. I just stopped trying. Of course, when I stopped, he repeatedly told me that he didn’t understand why I had stopped. Go figure.
It wasn’t just the efforts with my hair and makeup that fell by the wayside. My self-esteem and self-confidence were both smashed. I had lost belief in myself after riding the emotional roller-coaster that was my marriage for so long. One day he was telling me that he loved me and couldn’t imagine life with me; the next, he was telling me that I was his biggest burden and was doing nothing but costing him money. More than once, he told me that I was worthless. For that matter, he told anyone that would listen that I was worthless.
Getting the Help We Needed
Things turned around when my son and I started our counseling sessions at our church, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship. I will forever be grateful for the guidance we received. I will say that all the help and advice I received in counseling was the exact same help and advice I had passed along to my friends who were in wretched relationships and needed help. I wasn’t practicing what I was preaching.
The most immediate piece of advice our counselor gave us to stop focusing on him. He told us that within the first hour we were with him, we had spoken of nothing pertaining to ourselves and that everything had related directly to him and the negativity he littered our lives with. Both my son and I were taken aback by that observation because we truly had not noticed.
Immediately, I took heed to the counselor’s advice and began focusing on myself. It was the little things at first, like getting my hair and nails done, then I tackled the bigger areas that had been harpooned by the abuse. I had to retrain myself to believe I was smart because, after all, even he readily admits that if it wasn’t for me, my drive and my ability to get exactly what I want in any area of life, he wouldn’t be where he is in his career. I pushed him to succeed. I had to retrain myself to believe that I have a great personality — not the negative one that he had convinced me that I had. I had to retrain myself to believe that my sense of humor is amazing and that it’s one of the things that people like most about me. Seldom did we actually laugh together. There was always tension. Always.
After the Storm Passes
Rebuilding yourself can be hard, but it’s positively necessary that you do it. One of the most important precursors to finding love again is to love yourself. One of the things I learned over those years is that the level at which you love yourself is the exact same level of love you’ll accept from your man. I have been blessed with an amazing, AMAZING man whose level of self-confidence is indicative to the way he treats me. He is indeed my soulmate.
Loving yourself means that you embrace and express all the things that you find amazing. It also means that you work on the things that need improving, but never, ever allow your flaws and faults to define you. We all have them. Work with them, don’t let them work you.