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Discovering myself

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  • Discovering myself

    Okay, so here’s me trying to put into words what has been bothering me lately (although to be fair, not just lately, but it has come back again). I’ve been with my husband for eight years and we married a year ago. From the start, he is crazy about me. I am definitely crazy about him too, as I have always been, but we have different ways of showing our affection and different expectations from the other.

    When I met him I was seventeen and I had no vision of myself settling down; I was prepared to move out of my parent’s house and find someplace of my own, maybe travelling the world, discovering me. Then I fell in love and ever since, our lives have been about the two of us. Which is totally normal of course, being together. After six months of dating we moved in together (we lived in different cities and I moved to where he was). I got homesick in the beginning, crying like crazy over every little thing, and he was there for me saying that it was okay and I would feel better. Of course, I did. I got used to my new home and we grew stronger together.

    But all the while, I longed for some sort of freedom, self-discovery. I was still studying at that time and told him I would like to go abroad for a while. There were opportunities to do a three-month internships in Suriname, South-Africa, all sorts of places. It appealed to me a great deal. Whenever I brought it up though, he was scared ****less. He didn’t want me to go away for such a long time and said that if I did want to, he wouldn’t be able to cope with that. He said I had to choose between my relationship and studying abroad.

    As time went on, this kept on coming up. It is really the only thing that has caused fights, tears etc. in our relationship for the past eight years. Apart from this, we have a blast: we laugh, travel, make love, the whole package. Therefore I chose to stay with him and still support that decision fully, because I love him. Yet the urge to discover myself as a person outside of my relationship didn’t go away. I think he considers this wish to be sort of selfish and feels as though it has something to do with him, which it doesn’t. It truly doesn’t.

    Now and then I would look up opportunities to go abroad. I found a programme in which journalists (I’m a journalist) can do an exchange: a colleague from another country comes to work here, so I can work for a newspaper or magazine there. This got me totally excited and when I mentioned it to my (then) boyfriend, he immediately jumped back into panic mode, thinking I would leave him, telling me he could not handle this, urging me to stay. I stayed, and every time something like this came up again, I stayed. I have taken trips without him, going places with a friend up to a week tops, and when I go I do miss him, but I also feel excited about getting to know other people and – most importantly – myself better.

    He knows about my feelings and says that he gives me all the freedom I want. That is not entirely true in my opinion. Yes, he gives me the freedom to go somewhere for a short while, but would it be up to him, we would always be together. I for one feel that being apart can be good for a relationship as well. And I just don’t understand where his fear comes from. I know he has been abandoned as a child – his mom was emotionally unstable and would pack up her stuff without warning, and he also spent time away from home because his mother couldn’t handle him (or his brothers). So I guess it makes sense that he clings to what he has and is afraid that I would leave. But I’m not his mother. I’m just not.

    Lately, I get the feeling that he thinks I want more freedom to explore other men. He said that it was a fantasy of his that I have sex with another guy. I’m not sure whether he really fantasises about this or whether he wants to ‘give’ me that sort of freedom so that I can ‘sow my wild oats’. It’s hard because my wild oats aren’t about other men. Whenever I have thought of myself outside of this relationship, as a single woman, it did not involve meeting other guys, having sex with other men or anything like that. It was just me by myself, trying to find out what is important to me, learning to be on my own. Truly on my own. I know for sure that I don’t want other men. Because of his fantasy I went to a dating/chat site and got into contact with several men. They all seemed interested in having sex with me (well, no surprise there) and after the first rush of it, all I felt was resentment. I’m just not the type of person to get into loose contacts and furthermore, the possibility of meeting men who were cheating on their wifes or girlfriends through this felt terrible.

    I talked to my husband about my feelings and he says he only loves me, never once doubts our relationship, gives me freedom, all these things I know are true. Also when he asked me to marry him (without much romantic hassle, I must add) he clearly stated that he wanted me to choose for him and stop having doubts about where my life is headed. I promised him that I would completely go for it and I still feel that way. I just don’t understand why choosing for someone and committing should clash with choosing for oneself and discovering who I am.

    Aside from all these doubts I have relationship-wise, there are more things bothering me. I’ve recently been diagnosed with a type of rheumatic disease and it changed my workout routine. I can’t go running anymore. This was always a great outlet for me, so I really miss it. My husband is very supportive of me, he always accompanies me to the hospital when I have to go there, he really is the sweetest thing in the world. Also I am doing good career-wise, but things have come to somewhat of a standstill for me. He asked me what I wanted to do most, which is writing, that is what I love and want to do. He gives me confidence that this is possible yet at the same time, I feel responsible for making money because he has been out of work for the past six months and only recently started doing some freelance work, which isn’t very lucrative yet. He is really searching for what he wants and I have the feeling that he relies on me a bit too much for fulfilment. When I met him he had several things going on, but gradually he has become more and more of a homebody, which is also linked to his wish to keep me there.

    Just one last thing that has been going through my mind. I know very clearly who I am and what I want, but have not always had the opportunity to go after it, because most of it I discovered within this relationship. And then with not all of it being possible because of my relationship, it remains unfulfilled. I tell other people I’m completely happy with where I am now. When we were planning our wedding, we decided on not having a huge party, mainly because it is something he does not enjoy (dancing, drinking, that sort of stuff). When asked about it, I told we chose for an intimate thing together. And I did like it, it was wonderful. Looking back it just feels like more of his choice than mine. Also he resents living in a big city. I would like that, and I do go to the city often, because fortunately I work there and whenever I want to, I meet up with people for dinner or drinks and just to enjoy the hustle and bustle. But I know I’ll never live there because it is not what he wants. Again, when others ask me about it, I tell them I like living in a mid-size town. I do like it, that’s not a lie. I would like living in the city even more though. Lastly, we are thinking about having children. I would love to have a family, but still have that unfulfilled thing inside myself, and whereas everyone else (including my husband) seems to think I would make a great mom, I’m not so sure, because I feel like I don’t know myself well enough to do this.

    To the outside world, it looks like I have my things sorted out perfectly. I have a good job, I’m married to a great guy, I’m living the dream so many of my single and jobless girlfriends have. Why can’t I be happy with that? Why do I feel like I’m not what people think I am?

    I’m just so confused. I love my husband and want to be only with him, no one else. Except for myself. It’s just like I skipped a part of my life that is so vital. Learning to be on my own, discovering who I am and what I really want. Before I can truly give myself and maybe start a family, I want to be confident of who I am. Is this really as impossible as I think it is? I’m sort of stuck in my own head with this, so here it is. I’m looking forward to your responses – experiences, advice, anything. Thank you.
    Last edited by Discovery; 07-17-2013, 01:14 AM.

  • Just one more thing: I'm rereading my posting and wanted to edit something but the editing option has expired. Where it says 'I know very clearly who I am and what I want', that's not entirely true, it should have said that I know what I want, namely to discover who I am.


    • One life is too short to do all the things you might want to do. Its easy to see the attraction of other possible lives, to look back and see all the BIG choices you've made in life and think about how things would have been different with different choices. You can change your life if you want, can do almost anything, but not everything.

      That said, it is quite possible for people to drift apart in their interests. No one's fault, just each follows their own path. Sometimes you can nudge your partner in the direction you like (and they nudge you), sometimes the divide is too big.

      If you really want something else out of life, and you can't have it with your husband, that is OK, but be sure you aren't following a phantom.


      • Let's clarify some important concepts before jumping directly to your problem.

        The idea that anyone finds themselves "out there" is really a literary device known as the hero's journey. What we (the heroes) bump into out on these travels are "tests." These "tests" are people and circumstances which push us to learn about our own creativity, strengths, weaknesses, limits and resources. Passing the tests boosts our confidence and expands our sense of who we are and what we are capable of.

        The intensity, drama and romance incorporated into these compact novels and Hollywood productions of the hero's journey can cause us to minimize the very real tests we face every day and, therefore, fail to see our own growth.

        You, my dear, have already passed some incredible tests. You left home at 17 or 18. You recognized a good man and grabbed him. You controlled your urge to "discover" the world and yourself for the benefit of a great and meaningful relationship. You completed school. You found meaningful work that exposes you to all kinds of people and situations. You learned how to find creative solutions for the "greater good" by living in a small town close enough to a big city. You cultivated a group of friends while maintaining a strong relationship. For the sake of your husband and relationship, you have selflessly left some desires unfulfilled. And now you are facing a life-altering disease.

        Done miss that all of these everyday tests have exposed who you are-- A strong, caring, creative, selfless, thoughtful, persistent, independent thinking and wise-beyond-her-years young lady and devoted wife. In my book that's a real hero.

        As rcoreyus said, there is so much to do and not enough time.

        There are no perfect solutions. Every choice we make precludes other options. We cannot have our cake and eat it too.

        The greatest tragedy is failing to love the life you have because you can't stop obsessing about the one you don't.

        You are obviously a thoughtful young lady who wants to fully enjoy life. It seems that your particular problem is a timing issue. You found a great mate before you got to travel the world. You are now feeling the pressure to have children. And your kids' needs will definitely push your self-discovery needs to the back burner. But believe me, your children will expose you to some of the most difficult tests.

        There is nothing that says you can't travel later in life. And there is nothing that says you cannot discover who you are as an individual while still in a relationship. It has it's different challenges, but it can be done.

        At this particular crossroads you have to decide whether to risk upsetting (& possibly losing) your husband for the sake of finding yourself (or at least the part you haven't found yet).

        Obviously, no one can make that decision for you. But please, whatever decision you make, embrace it and don't look back.

        Good luck


        • Wow... thank you so much for this. You wouldn't believe how hard it is sometimes to see the true value of everything that life has taught me so far, and also of the choices that I have made. You put it so wisely, your posting brought me to tears. I might very well be the luckiest person in the world and not even recognize it... Sometimes, just as you say, I feel like I need a thousand lives to explore every option. It's just not possible. Wow, again. And thank you, again. I really appreciate this.


          • Love what Pollon wrote, it's not black and white yet sometimes that is all we see.

            A suggestion. Study what ever you want on-line. And, then arrange for "both" of you to go to places such as Africa, to help the poor for a month, do something together with meaning and discovery, a compromise.

            You may find that whilst he is working and "can't" he should be able for a couple of weeks, called holidays and make a plan to do things like this annually. Perhaps if he discovers things in life that aren't the day to day life, he too may share a passion with you that will strengthen your marriage even further and who knows in your old ages, what causes and travelling you both will do.


            • That's a great suggestion, Chandlers wish. I think we might be able to do this, because we both have freelance jobs now... wouldn't it be the best opportunity? I'll definitely talk to him about this!


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