“You’re like a goddess!” and other stunning revelations…Posted: March 23, 2012
or: Say What You Mean and Say It Now.
When I was in the Dark Days of Divorce (a period that lasted years, actually), I had times when I thought I’d never lift myself off of the pavement, I felt so low. If I had any self esteem it was quite undercover. The strongest thing I did was to persevere and get out of Dodge (for anyone not familiar with this cowboy reference, it means to leave that two-horse town and all its dangers).
When I did leave Dodge, I so trembled inside that it took a while to compose myself, but possibilities bloomed all around me, mostly because there are lots of good people in the world. I found myself getting happier and more confident, or thawing, as the poem may be.
One thing that was tough, especially at first, was taking compliments. I doubted the sincerity of anyone who complimented anything but my resilience or strength. Or cooking.
My thoughts went something like this: “You think I look good? I’m attractive to you? Are you blind, or insincere with ulterior motives?” And it wasn’t limited to looks. Compliments about talents, humor, intellect, fitness– nearly any personal attribute whatsoever–were doubted or disregarded.
This was not the best attitude for me to have towards sincerely interested gentleman, no indeed. Why didn’t I just carry a ten-foot pole around with me? (It could be doubly useful if I found myself drowning, but that’s a previous post.)
I conquered this discomfort in one fell swoop and rather unexpectedly: in an offhand manner one day when I was feeling sorry for myself early post-divorce, I told my ex-husband that fortunately for him, he now had the opportunity to find someone beautiful.
I could have knocked him over with an eyelash.
“What?” he couldn’t have looked or acted more stunned. He stammered. I don’t think I had ever witnessed him stammer. “Wh-what? You are Beautiful. You’re like a ________ (my nationality deleted) goddess! Are you kidding me?”
He could have knocked me over with half an eyelash.
“You never said you thought I was beautiful. You never called me beautiful, ever, or anything even close, in two decades of marriage…” I was stunned. I felt like I’d been both kicked in the gut and sent to a Grecian throne. I felt awful and glorious, all at once.
Why had he never complimented me? Why had I never known that he felt even remotely like this? Or should I just have assumed that he thought I was beautiful inside and out–physically, spiritually, intellectually– since he’d married me?
Or should I have asked him, somewhere along the way?
For so many years I had thought, “If the man to whom I am devoted, the man who means more to me than anything or anyone else in this world, doesn’t appreciate me and find me attractive then certainly I am … not.”
I’d grown up thinking that there is someone special for each of us, someone who can love us as we are. Shouldn’t a spouse? If mine had, I’d never known. Maybe he’d appreciated me but never said or showed it, or maybe he realized what I meant to him after I was gone. In either case, this is one little bit of the dissolution story, not a cause or major contributer but one little lesson learned along the way:
Say what you mean, and say it Now!
So, I’m trying to make sure that the people I love know, through my words and actions, how much they mean to me. I’m sending more cards and notes and packages, and more compliments. I’m using the word Love more often, and other flowery Valentinian phrases. I’m trying to notice what is special about each and every person in my life. It feels good to make other people feel special especially when they truly are.
You never know when too late will be. Ex-husband regrets are sorry things. Divorces are even sorrier. If you love your beautiful wife or husband, girlfriend or boyfriend, parent, sibling or child– say it and show it. Make sure he or she knows it.
Sorry for the soapbox, but I feel fresh and cleansed to have that off my mind.