I am finally reading “Miss America By Day” by Marilyn Van Derbur. I have known about this book for a long time and never took the time to read it. I’m glad I finally am making the time.
I have found much of the book fascinating, but the part I read Friday night struck me full force. She did not remember the incest she experienced and had split her memory into what she called the day child and the night child. The day child was what everyone saw and the night child was her inner voice. A good friend watched her make decisions and realized she was self-destructing with the decisions she made, even though she did not realize it. He set about trying to figure out what was driving her decisions.
This caused me to reflect on entering my thirties.
I turned thirty at the end of my second year of seminary. I was in the process of getting a divorce from a man who was very kind, but did not seem to be growing at the same rate I was. He seemed stuck and no amount of encouragement from me seemed to help.
While in the process of the divorce, I met another man. He was not particularly nice. He was not particularly thoughtful. He was not particularly like anyone I’d ever even remotely considered dating. He was not a physically abusive person, but he certainly beat me down emotionally. He made it a habit of calling me ten minutes before I got out of class or off of work. I don’t think he understood the convention of time in the way that other people do. I also think he was checking up on me to make sure I was where I said I was.
I gave up many opportunities for this man who would never give up anything for me. He proved time and again that there was no compromising. He might have said that he would negotiate, but what that really meant is that he would leave it alone for a little while and then catch me off guard and he would keep badgering me until I gave in.
I was making so many bad decisions at this point in my life. To look back and see some of the things I was thinking about at that point is appalling to me! I can’t figure out what made me stay. I think the biggest thing was I was older than I ever expected to be and I didn’t know what to do. It was like I was testing life saying give me whatever bad and hurtful stuff you’ve got. I’m going to take it all. I took it and took it and took it and gave the relationship everything I had and it was quickly destroying me.
My life was so erratic with him. We kept moving. I’d get a job and he’d come up with some reason we had to move. I didn’t have much contact with my family or friends because I didn’t want to have to lie to them and I couldn’t tell them what was really going on. It was bad. I was miserable. I actually felt my heart breaking.
I know people were concerned about me. I wasn’t who I’d always been. I had two friends who spoke the loudest about what they were seeing. One said it was very hard for her to talk to me because she didn’t like to see how much he was hurting me. The other said, very plainly, I don’t care what you do, apply for grad school somewhere far away, get a new job. It doesn’t matter. Get away from him. Don’t wait. Do it now.
I didn’t get away right then, but I was definitely trying to figure out how. I did not want to self-destruct and I was doing it quickly. I had come too far to be taken so far back by someone who did not care about me, but only himself.
After I finally left, he still tried to contact me. He would call me at work, send me emails, comment on my blog. I will not be at all surprised if he tries to comment on this post. I will delete it without even reading it. I’m not making choices to intentionally self-destruct anymore.
My life doesn’t have a laser point focus and I don’t know 100% what I’m going to do, but it evolves. Jeff, the man I wish I’d known and had the opportunity to choose long ago, and I are a team. We make decisions together and talk about how thing affect us as a couple, not as a one-sided unit. This is a reciprocal, loving relationship, full of respect and love. It is so amazing, sometimes I can hardly believe it.
I cannot say why I was punishing myself with bad decisions. I think I did not know what to do. I knew how to make better decisions, I just wasn’t. I learned a lesson big time. I may not always make good decisions now, no one does, but I am making the best decisions I can instead of trying to self-destruct. Because I made it through the time of bad decisions, I now have the opportunity to make good life decisions with the best partner I could have ever asked for. I couldn’t have dreamed him, but I found him.
Have you ever made self-destructive decisions? If so, what caused you to stop? If you haven’t stopped, what might it take to make good decisions for yourself?
Remember, you are worth it!