It is very easy to shift the blame of many of my choices from myself to my ex. Easy, but not necessarily the right choice nor the most ethical choice.
And that is what these last few years are really about. Yes, I was abused. Yes, I was manipulated. But, if I’m bluntly honest with myself, I opened that door.
Look, I’m not saying that he’s not responsible for a whole fountain of blame. But he’s only to blame for his choices, not for mine.
And the reality is, one of the things that I hated most about him was that he was just as afraid of success as he was of failure. There’s an old adage (I can’t find the origin of it, but I’d love to find it) that says “what you most despise in others, you hate in yourself.”
Essentially, it’s what happens to most of us humans. We don’t necessarily want to admit (to ourselves, let alone to anyone else) that we have a problem, but we’re pretty quick to point it out to others around us.
I’ve been thinking about this for most of today. Up until now trying to sell my art has been more theoretical than real. But, now…today…it’s becoming real. I am paying to print the art, so I can take it to a show. Well, let’s be honest — my sister is paying to print it, because I pretty much have nothing to my name.
I’ve spent a good portion of today dealing with fear. And basically that fear comes from taking a risk — the risk that no one will want to buy my art, that no one will like them. But there’s also the fear of what happens if people like my work. Will I be able to repeat that success?
And that pretty much one of the big lessons I’ve been avoiding learning. Quite a bit of what I have been working through, in my art, in my therapy and just in talking to my family members really does come down to an unwillingness or a desperate fear of taking any risks.
If I don’t take the risk, I won’t fail spectacularly. But, also, if I don’t take the risk, I won’t have to succeed either.
I’ve avoided taking risks in my love life (well, until about 3-4 years ago). I’ve gone with what is easy, essentially taking the “low hanging fruit.” The problem with aiming my ambition there, whether in romance or with the rest of my life, is that I never find out that I have settled for far less than I deserve.
But, not anymore. Not since I met my current boyfriend. He took that risk. And he got me to take the risk, because I was awed by the fact that someone would spend two years searching for me after just one evening’s interaction. No one had ever really done something like that for me before. He showed me that I really did settle.
Oh, it wasn’t intentional. He didn’t try in any way to break up my marriage. In fact, in all the discussions before I decided to divorce my ex, he never once told me to leave the marriage. He never even brought up the concept of divorce. All he did (and all my sister did) was help me to see how I was hurting myself by staying in a relationship that — again, if I am bluntly honest with myself — had been dead for quite a long time.
But, I was afraid to leave it. I had gotten used to it, it had become just what I expected from life. I never considered that I might be worth more than that. I was afraid that if I left the marriage, I would end up alone and unwanted (yes, even with the love from my boyfriend).
It’s that point, that total loss of self-worth that truly made me make the decision. I was empty, hollowed out. The only thing I had left was the decision to take a risk or turn away from it like I have for most of my life.
Risks still hurt when they fail. But, you can’t win if you don’t try.