So this journey has allowed me to slow down and gain some perspective. I’ve forced myself to examine why and how I got to the point of ignoring my needs in favor of everyone else…and I was able to pinpoint the beginning of the unraveling:
When my sister in law died unexpectedly at the age of 36, I turned off the part of myself that allowed my needs to come through. My husband and his parents were wrecked, overwhelmed by their grief. I had to hold everything together, and be strong for them all. And for our son, who was 4 at the time, I had to be an anchor, a safe place with consistent responses and a predictable routine.
Therapy has been a critical part of this process, and it helped me realize that I had to start making my own needs a priority. Upon reflecting and really, just talking to my therapist, it just came out of my mouth…and it was like I’d been in a dark room, and suddenly the lights were on. My world had been illuminated and all kinds of clarity was revealed: when his sister died, I stopped being myself with my husband.
He’s the one person with whom I should be able to be myself. So that’s what I’m doing now…so far, so good.