Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Remembering who I am

This past weekend I went to a party at the home of a mutual friend. I knew that it would be mostly a group of people I had lost touch with over the past several years, partly due to my self imposed isolation, but also because the old gathering spots had closed. As the price of gas goes up, the cash available for entertainment goes down. A few drinks while listening to live music at the neighborhood watering hole is one of the first budget items cut.

I knew these people before I met my husband and I had many fun evenings with them - listening to live music, dancing, talking, and generally acting like college students although most of us are a few decades past college. Hey, why should fun be limited to people under twenty-five? We are baby-boomers, we won't go quietly.

I am introverted by nature, but also enjoy socializing. I had never been nervous about going to a party, until this time. I even contemplated, (briefly), not going. I was surprised and puzzled by the anxiety I felt as the evening approached. What was it? Was I afraid that my husband's treatment of me showed on my face? That I had turned into a timid wallflower? Would people say, "Jennie, what happened to you?" Had I lost my confidence because my husband called me names? Because upon having obtained me, he failed to even notice me? Maybe this was an experience of shame, the sense that one is exposed to the world as lacking in some way.

Obviously I needed to change my head, so I went shopping and bought a flirty little polka dot dress and painted my toenails.

Bob had asked me "Are you going to go to the party?" Odd, for a husband to ask that I thought. Isn't it usually, "Shall we go to the party?" "Yes, I'm going I told him." He said he might. I went on ahead.

The moment I walked in, all anxiety vanished. I was greeted warmly by many people. I did lots of catching up with old friends, and there were new interesting folks to talk with too. I didn't notice when Bob arrived. I was too busy enjoying myself. I first noticed him when he sauntered over as I was engaged in a tete 'a tete with a funny and attractive man. Since I was not wearing my wedding ring, perhaps Bob just wanted to establish that I had a husband. Don't know. Don't really care.

I had a fabulous time. There's nothing like a fun party on a perfect August night. Best of all, I remembered who I was. I remembered I can have fun. I remembered that even at my age, men are interested in me. It felt really good.

There are many roads to healing, becoming educated about the nature of the problem, connecting with others who understand, dealing with your own feelings. All those things are important, but never underestimate the healing power of a wearing a new dress to a great party under the stars on a perfect August night.



Avi said...

Hey Jennie,

GREAT for You!

And by the way, that feeling of realizing who the self is, that is so much of what is happening with me. Thank you for pointing that out for me.

CZBZ said...

"All those things are important, but never underestimate the healing power of a wearing a new dress to a great party under the stars on a perfect August night."

I loved this, jennie! And it's so true. It's easy to feel as though everybody knows about our 'secret'. So we isolate ourselves.

Good for you for getting out of the house and reconnecting with people who know and care about you as a human being.

I also think it's remarkable that you went by yourself. Yaya!!

Hey, last week I got my hair cut and highlighted. My face was glowing so brightly it darn near faded out the sun.

I have a hard time paying attention to myself but realize it's part of the aftermath of abuse. Being around people who validated my presence and reified my self-worth was the perfect anti-dote to what ailed me.

Great message...good to hear you're taking care of yourself!


Mel said...

Awwwwwww...... Well, it looks good on you, ma'am!

A flitty dress, good friends and a change of environment--good for reminding ourselves that life really is for enjoying!
I'm glad you broke past the barrier and showed up.

Sometimes that's all it takes for up and the rest will follow, yaknow?
I'd gues that's a part of 'trusting the process' up and keep my hands opened to receive.

Well done, ma'am! :-)

Mon said...

I stopped talking with a couple of friends in high school. Now it is just to awkward to join any reunion. HAAAAAY

Laura said...

Jennie, ah the secret formula: new dress, painted toe nails, attention and the ability to appreciate it and to feel appreciated. I'm so happy for you. Laura

Mel said...

Had to come back to this....

Ya know....I used to tell myself isolation was 'self imposed'.
I 'liked' aloneness.
I 'disliked' the crowds.

I had to ask myself just how much I was hiding for him, how much I was hiding for me.

I think it's good you asked yourself the questions you did.
Cuz part of the journey into the abusive relationship IS manipulative isolation on the offenders part.
It's deliberate and subtle.
It's a whittling away at others who could potentially interfere.


Which makes it even MORE gooder that you opted to don that frilly dress and go! I can be done. LOL

jennie said...

Mel, I'm glad you came back to comment on the isolation issue. I am aware that it is common for abusive spouses to try to isolate their partner. In my case however, I don't see that particular dynamic.

I think it is important to realize that not all abusive relationships have all of the warning signs nor are they equal in severity. Most of the abusive spouses I have heard of frequently criticize how their partners do things, my husband rarely does that. On the other hand, I have talked with women whose husbands have engaged in just about every type of verbal/emotional abuse but have never called them names.

I recently went through Patricia Evan's list of 15 categories of verbal abuse and found that my husband engages in 10 of the 15. Maybe I should do a post just on this topic sometime.

So for me, the isolation has been self-imposed in the sense that my husband does not try to keep me from seeing particular people or going out in general. It has been more my general depression and feelings of shame that have kept me out of the loop. And I really do like lots of alone time even when life is great.

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