The last few years of my life I have been on a journey looking for what I can only describe as “balance” in my life. It seems to be a neverending quest for me, one that I am continually amazed at how much I am able to screw up.
For a long time, my ex was #1 in my life. We put a lot of effort into our relationship, and it really showed. We had a good, strong relationship full of mutual respect and love. In many cases, I often even put him ahead of everything else in my life…including myself. Everything that I had went into that relationship.
Then along came motherhood, and my marriage was no longer #1 in my life. Suddenly, my children were. For the first few years of their lives, I sacrificed every bit of the rest of my life – my marriage, myself, everything – for the sake of my two girls. I thought about this a lot when I read TsQuest post about jealousy when she wrote (about her ex) : “It was when he was no longer #1… but came second to my children, that our marriage began to fail.”
This was a pretty profound statement for me, one that really hit home. It was after the children arrived on the scene that our marriage really began to break down in a slow and gradual manner. There were issues there before that, but we’d been able to overcome most things because we had the time and the energy to tackle them together. After the girls came, life was filled with round the clock breastfeeding, diaper changes, playdates, exhaustion, a total sacrifice of life and self…to the detriment of my marriage. Issues were buried or avoided. Negative feelings built up. Depression crept in. The pendulum swung completely in the direction of my children, away from everything else in my life that was equally important. Away from myself. Away from my husband.
It was a little less than two years ago when I began to “reclaim” my life. In my search for happiness and meaning and joy, however, I went astray. I began putting myself ahead of everything and everyone else. Not only was my husband in the back seat of my life, but suddenly my kids were, too. As I continued on my search, depression gripped me with a heavy, icy hand. I pushed it away, immersing myself even further into my own selfishness. I found solace in a relationship outside my marriage, as I continued to avoid the real issues that were plaguing me…the hole inside me that was growing bigger – daily, it seemed. My husband couldn’t fill it – my girls couldn’t fill it – because it is the kind of hole that only self-love can fill…and that was something that I was sorely lacking.
Again the pendulum swang – this time toward me – and away from everything and everyone else. I told lie after lie to cover my tracks, protect my secrets, and desperately try to carve out a space for ‘me’ in this world….still drowning in depression and not knowing how to pull myself up out of it.
I feel the pendulum of life swinging again – finally (and not without some effort on my part) – back toward my girls again. They have not seen the best of their momma for the last year and a half of their lives. That’s so much lost time. I can’t get that time back…no matter how much I may wish for it. Tomorrow brings me no guarantees in terms of what it holds in store – I have only today. Today I will love my girls to the best of my ability. I had my time – time that I selfishly stole from them in my quest for “balance” and self-discovery. But it doesn’t have to be so black-and-white, so all-or-nothing. I can continue on my journey of self-discovery and growth while still giving the girls everything that they deserve.
Today it is our time.