self esteem

Are You Lost in Love?

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Are you a wallflower, fading in the presence of your mate? Is your personality in hiding? Have you suppressed or swapped out some of your beliefs and attitudes, dropped friends or activities for those of his/hers? If you have a nagging sense of feeling out of touch with yourself, feel frustrated, angry, or upset and can’t put your finger on why, maybe it’s because you’re neglecting your own needs … losing yourself in your relationship.

 

The Give and Take of a Relationship

Losing yourself in a relationship doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t happen spontaneously. Loss of self is the culmination of a series of thoughts and actions, a gradual behavioral change that is tied to a special someone you love – your partner – and to the relationship you’ve established with that person.

Maybe what’s going on is new, occurring for the first time in the new relationship you’ve entered. Or maybe it’s a pattern, behavior that repeats itself whenever you become romantically involved. There’s a good chance you may not even have noticed the shift consciously; or if you did, you may have dismissed it, telling yourself that it’s natural, just part of being a couple.

To some extent, couples, as they grow closer to one another, do change the way they express their attitudes and opinions, conceding to one another’s likes and dislikes at times in order to solve problems, be open to something new, or as an expression of love and support.

The difference between those healthy changes and getting lost is a matter of how extreme those changes are and your level of awareness, whether there’s intention, and whether it’s reciprocal. In other words, when you lose your identity, you’ve gone through major internal changes, you’ve given up pieces of yourself rather than merge who you are with that of your mate. You’ve suppressed your identity rather than created a relationship based on give and take.

 

What’s Behind Your Disappearing Act?

So how can you sort out what’s going on? First, it’s important to be brave and open Pandora’s box to see what might be happening. You might ask yourself if any of these statements ring true for you:

·         You have a general lack of self-esteem and tend to hide behind others because it feels safer.

·         You fear that if you express disagreement or your own wants and needs, that your mate will abandon you.

·         You hide behind someone you’re close to because you don’t feel worthy or that what you have to say or your opinions are not valuable.

·         It seems easier to let your mate run your life for you, answer for you, make decisions for you rather than speak your mind.

·         Your mate tends to overshadow you, encouraging your acquiescent or submissive behavior.

·         You feel lazy and lack the strength to stand up for yourself. This could be a sign of an underlying condition, such as depression or stress.

 

On the Road to Recovery

Explore the you before and during the relationship and how you feel about it – not only by yourself, but with a close friend, a therapist, and your mate.

Honor yourself, take care of yourself, learn or relearn to be independent, meet your basic needs first. You need these things before you can have a vibrant, meaningful, fulfilling relationship. It takes two.

You need to know where to draw the line, how to establish boundaries. If your partner has a strong personality – one that enables your wallflower behavior – recognize that, then call attention to it so that s/he’s aware of the effects s/he might be having on you, intentionally or unintentionally.

In a healthy relationship, we make deliberate decisions on how we want to express ourselves and when we want to flexible or stand firm. We have our own “voice” and we need to be clear within ourselves how we acknowledge and act upon that voice. Likewise, our mate needs to decide how to behave based on his/her voice and allow you yours … that give and take.

The underlying cause of your disappearing act might be simple tweaking or it might take some deep digging to unearth. Either way, you should be encouraged that there is a way out of the mess. The fact that you know something isn’t right and want to change means that you’re on your way to rediscovering yourself.

5 Things I Wasn’t Prepared for after My Divorce

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Back to square one. That’s what you might be thinking after your divorce. Getting through the divorce was tough. What’s it going to be like now? To be sure, there are going to be some unknowns, some surprises. Post-divorce is a re-learning and a discovery process.

 

1.       A Quiet House

You’re probably not prepared for how quiet a house can be when it’s just you living in it. Does it feel creepy or make you feel lonely? Turn on music that makes you feel good. Having something going on in the background cuts the dead silence. It can energize you or soothe you. Watch a morning talk or TV show, stream a movie, listen to an audio book with headphones on as you go about your daily tasks. Tired of that? Use the silence as an opportunity to reflect, assess, discover new routines, meditate.

 

2.       Friends Old and New

Some of the mutual friends you had while married may not carry over into post-divorce. But close friends are often there for the long haul. Rely on them for emotional support and for keeping you sane and connected to the outside world. After a marital breakup people have a tendency to turn inward from the stresses and trauma that accumulated. You might feel gun shy about interactions with others. Now is a good time to reach out and make new friends … people who also lead a single life and have similar interests. Hanging out with others gets your mind off you, painful memories, and negative feelings. Reignite yourself and your friendships. Plan lunches, coffee breaks, a vacation or weekend get-away with friends.

 

3.       The Search for Companionship

You need time and space to figure out what you want in a relationship. Companionship, someone to share activities with, someone who can relate to what you went through and are still going through, or maybe you want to start the search for the love of your life? You’re wiser now. You can step out of the pattern that led to your failed marriage. You can better identify who and what feels right to you.

 

4.       Living Single

You’re learning to break the habit of having a mate in everyday life. If you have children, you may feel overwhelmed about taking on your new role as a single parent. Try to keep yourself from invested in what you don’t have. If you think too much about what you’re missing out on not being in a relationship you’re robbing yourself of the opportunity to make changes, move forward, prepare for your new life.

 

5.       Who am I?

Are you confused about your identity? Do you suffer from low self-esteem? While married, your identity may have gotten lost, overshadowed by that of your spouse. Loss of that role can make you question who you are and what you want out of life. Become reacquainted with you, examine your limitations – but try not to dwell on them. Identify your strengths and build on them. Keep a journal. Register for a self-discovery seminar or a divorce support group. Go to counseling.

 

Getting A “Do-Over”

How well will you recover from the failed marriage and divorce? How long will recovery take? That depends on how you respond to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

One thing is for sure: you won’t be dealing with the same issues as you were during and before the divorce. You’re not surviving a married life and a divorce, you’re getting a chance for a “do-over.” You’re coming out the other side a wiser, stronger, happier person who makes better decisions and experiences meaningful, successful relationships.