Upon the realizations that all my sacrifices had been for MC’s dreams as opposed to “our” dreams, I was completely lost and lonely. I did not know who I was anymore. The strong, independent woman I had been was gone. My strengths had so atrophied over the years that I felt they no longer really existed. I needed to rebuild me from the ground up. I didn’t even know where to start, feeling as if I was only an empty shell.
When MC started his overseas career, I became “just a spouse,” someone who followed along and tried to make a home and life for our family with each new move. I had not been in the paid workforce for many years, except for some occasional jobs related to MC’s work that were more something to do than something with which to build a professional reputation. Inside, I knew that needed to change and it needed to change soon. If MC and I divorced, I needed to know that I had options. If we stayed together, I needed something that was mine and mine alone. I had been talking about working on a Masters degree for many years. But, MC had been rather ambivalent about the idea and I worried that without his unequivocal approval, I would fail. Why did I feel this way?
Through the years, as I allowed my strengths to die of disuse, I would ask MC what am I good at? What should I pursue? I should have looked into myself for these answers. Instead, I looked to MC. Why did I do this? I have really had to examine this closely and I think the reason was that I was afraid of bruising his ego. In a way, I was asking him what can I pursue, what am I allowed to be good at, that will not bruise your ego? Upon realizing why I had shied away from finding the answers for myself, I became very angry. I was not angry with MC, but with myself. How could I let myself become this person, this weak, scared, little girl? What happened to me? How did I ever let this happen?
I realized something. When I was a young woman I had seen myself through my father’s eyes. He thought I could do anything I set my mind to. He thought I was capable, intelligent, strong and wise. I was 19 when he died. When I lost him, I lost me or, at least, his vision of me. When I married MC just 5 years later, I looked for who I was in MC’s eyes. Only, it turns out the view was not so great.
When realizing that I was now this empty shell of a person, I also realized that I had never learned to see myself through my own eyes. It was time to change that for the better. I decided to apply for graduate school.