I’m so proud of the strength I’ve displayed since making my decision to leave AJ. I have always thought of myself as a strong, fierce, decisive woman, but honestly, I surprised myself this past year.  I suspect I surprised him too.  I would have never thought I could handle losing AJ and I think he thought that fact would keep me in his possession.  I loved him more than I thought any person would be capable of loving another.  When facing forever without him, it crushed me.  But, I knew I had to leave.

In the early days of my decision, when I was still trying to make sense of things, I felt like I was on autopilot.  Someone was operating things for me.  Something got me up in the morning, bathed me, dressed me, took care of my dogs, and got me to work. I was alive… but wasn’t living. I wasn’t feeling anything. I just floated through the days and weeks gently carried by the current of daily life.

Then, the strength became louder as I became an active participant in my life again. I smiled for real, built a few walls, distracted myself, and kept it moving.

I think I was about 6 months out when I started to really self-reflect on a larger scale. I already knew I had been a great spouse. I already saw the love I gave so selflessly. I was proud of all of that. But I knew, I wasn’t perfect.

What could I improve for myself and for my future Mr. Right?

What were my weaknesses?

It’s not a fun question to answer.  We don’t want to see what is wrong with us.  I didn’t want to.  I didn’t want to uncover something that could make me think AJ could have been right about me.  I didn’t want to justify his actions…

Was I as hard to talk to as he claimed?  Did I really scare him into silence and infidelity?  It felt as though admitting my flaws would give power to his words… but, that just isn’t true.  Looking at myself and identifying my flaws was a sign of my strength.

That’s right; identifying my worst qualities is a hard thing to do and requires strength and honesty.  Boom… strength.

So I did a deep dive.  I climbed the walls I had thrown up internally and I surveyed the area for my faults.

I had to ask myself, even if nothing could change the outcome, what could I have changed about me?

The first flaw revealed itself loud and clear – CONTROL.  I love to be in control of everything I can.  I make decisions and execute them.  I set a timeline and stick to it.  If I can be in the driver’s seat (both figuratively and literally), I am going to be driving.  I have spent 28+ years controlling everything I could.  I love certainties, but as I mentioned previously, they don’t exist.  Well, I have to give up control, I thought.  When I was with AJ, I planned everything – our dates, dinners, weekends, doctor’s appointments, family visits, chores, literally everything.  Now, I realize control is something that hurts me… I am exhausted.  It’s a flaw… it creates anxiety.  I need to try and release the tight grip I had on every detail of life.  I recognized the need for a balance between control and going with the flow.  With everything that has been thrown at me in the past 12 months, I feel like I’ve taken a crash course in letting go of my perfect plans and dealing with life as it comes.  It comes with twists and turns and difficult times, but I’ve realized I can be more resilient and flexible when my plans are a little less rigid and defined.

Next, I realized something I really wish wasn’t true about me.  I am an ENABLER.  When I love someone, whether it be my partner, my best friends, my family, I make sure I do whatever I can for them.  I am fiercely loyal and caring (which are huge strengths), but I will sacrifice for whatever someone else needs.  That couldn’t have been more true when I was with AJ.  You may have noticed it in other posts.  I put aside anything I wanted for whatever he wanted.  I made sure every minute we spent together was about him and his happiness, which in turn fed my happiness at the time.  However, I think I fed his narcissistic personality with my need to satisfy him.  I was the “perfect” match for his ego.  I think that’s why he was so sure he could keep me, until he saw he couldn’t.  He thought I would continue to enable his behavior… thankfully, I now see the fine line between being a loyal, caring, loving spouse and an enabler.

As hard as it is to see the areas of myself that need growth and improvement (and I certainly have more than two things to improve), being aware of your weaknesses provides you with insight on how you may react to things in future relationships… and that is definitely how you turn a “con” into a “pro”.

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