2016 has been a very challenging year for me so far. I have gone through a lot of ups and downs – more downs than ups lately. I struggle to even write this post, as so much of what we portray online and allow others to see of ourselves on social media, blogs and other public forums tends to always be good and wonderful. We share all the highs and rarely share the lows. As a result, I have not been on social media quite as much this year. As someone that blogs about leadership and leading others admitting that I have faults is harder to do. But we all have things to work on and issues to deal with. A good leader will admit their own shortcomings and faults and work on them.
I have spent the past week or so really thinking about everything, evaluating and re-evaluating my priorities and what I need to do to step up and start making positive changes in my life.
While I won’t get into the personal details about the ‘what’ and ‘why’ I have to admit that my marriage and family life is not perfect and I am working on myself and more importantly my marriage in the hopes that it is not too late to save it.
A lifelong struggle of mine is that I define myself by what I do and what I achieve. I have a type ‘A’ personality which means that I can be very competitive; I always want to do more, be more and achieve more. In doing so, I put the needs of my family and marriage second (or at the bottom) of my list of priorities. I find myself placing more importance on what the external world thinks of me and my accomplishments.
After watching a video on the Tao Te Ching last week and reading some more this week it hit me really hard that I am more than what I do (I am not my job or all the other extra-curricular things that I am involved with), and that I have been caught up in the ‘look at me’ syndrome. This is a very common syndrome to be caught up in too (especially with social media). Until recently I never realized how badly it affected me and the impact that it was having on my family. Or subconsciously I did but didn’t want to make the changes I needed to make until now. I want to do good but the problem with the ‘look at me syndrome’ is that I put more value on what others think of what I am doing and what they think of me than my own husband and daughter. This has led to a whole whack of issues and problems.
Part of my own self-evaluation has also been to rethink my priorities and all the ‘extras’ that I am involved with. That has been very hard for me to do. I hate to give my word that I will do something then turn around and change my mind. After-all it directly impacts what others will think of me (part of the problem with the ‘look at me syndrome’). I had to make some tough choices this past week because I have realized that my husband, my marriage, and family are far more important to me, and I need to do what I need to do regardless of what others may think of me.
One such change that I made this past week was to step down as the Chair of a committee that I was elected to, and actually asked to be off the committee entirely. I did not expect that the news would be well received but some of the reactions and responses I received shocked me. I understand than I am letting people down, but when I explained that I had to do so in order to save my marriage I assumed that people would understand my reasoning. But ‘saving my marriage’ was not accepted as a valid reason. I could have lied and said that it created a conflict of interest with my work and what I do, so I had no choice. That probably would have been received with no issues or complaints but by being honest and telling people that I had to step down to save my marriage it was deemed unacceptable. I was even told that it was not like I was dying or something, so I should continue on with my duties. But working on changing yourself, and working to save something that is precious to you takes time, and it is also very emotionally draining. It is not something that can be done on the fly or in-between other things.
I told my husband what happened (as he is a very smart man) because I was upset. He brought up a very valid point. As a society we don’t seem to place value and worth on trying to save a marriage (or we don’t seem to when it is made public to others). It seems to be more acceptable to simply say we are getting divorced and that we gave up. Why is that? He also brought up another good point… that part of me was dying inside. It was a revelation for me. A part of me was (and still is) dying inside which is why I am trying to make positive changes for the good of my marriage and myself. My marriage was/is dying. This affects all the other aspects of my life and my well-being.
We go around espousing ‘family first’ but it appears that when you actually take steps to put your family first it is frowned upon.
Another comment thrown my way after I re-organized my priorities was “don’t you care what other people think of you?” At the same time shouldn’t what my husband and daughter think of me be more important than what acquaintances, and strangers think of me? I want to be a good role model for my daughter and sometimes that means showing her that I am not perfect, I do and will make mistakes, and it is ok to re-evaluate what matters to you and what is important. Family values are important.
I am going against the grain and actually putting my family and marriage first. Is it too late to save what I have? I don’t know. Only time will tell. I hope it isn’t.
I wanted to share where I am at and let others know that may be in the same situation as me that it is ok to work on your marriage. It is ok to rethink your values and what matters in life. It is ok to make positive changes in your life and work on improving yourself. Don’t let the nay-sayers stop you from taking action. It is not easy but there are always other people out there in the same boat as you (whether they admit to it or not). Don’t let others bully you into changing your mind when the important things in life need to take precedence over something else. Your emotional and mental well-being is important too.