When the hubbs and I decided to relocate our family from Texas to Michigan (his birth place) eleven years ago, I was on board with the move. In fact, it was my idea. But … I did have fears. After all, this is his home. His family. His friends. His stomping grounds. Home to his golf league, ex-wife, old girlfriends you name it. I wondered where I’d fit in. We’d spent nearly 10 years living thousands of miles away; building our relationship, raising the boys, and pursuing our careers. We’d done it on our own, without family interferences and without a network of built-in friends. We made our own friends and, most importantly, we turned to each other instead of to others. Still, I worried that his loyalty – one of the traits I admire most about him – would be tested by all those other important people. I wondered how that might change our relationship. Selfishly, I didn’t want to share.
So after we settled in, I went out of my way to be liked. I insisted on hosting holiday gatherings, planning reunions and such (and no one had been actively doing – that should have been my first clue). I outdid myself at every gathering. We hosted Christmas parties – in our home – for 60+ and I did all the cooking. And worked full time. And. And. And. Here’s the thing: I thought I was doing this for him. And I was, to an extent. He enjoyed himself and the opportunity to reconnect with so many. He was as helpful as could be, providing labor for every event I volunteered us for. But I’ve come to realize something: many of those things, I did for me. Why?
I wanted to be accepted.
I wanted to make my mark.
I wanted them to love me.
Somewhere along the way, I must have learned that love and acceptance was to be earned. That me – just showing up – wasn’t nearly enough.
A few years ago, I grew weary of coordinating all the events others had come to expect. It wasn’t their fault – it’s human nature. If you readily provide a steady stream of pleasant resources, eventually others will grow to expect them. But I grew resentful. I no longer found joy in it. Under the auspices of “it’s just too much,” he agreed that we should scale things back and eventually we stopped.
Having had some time between that whirlwind of activity and now … I am able to see things a bit clearer. Epiphanies abound. Here’s what I’ve learned: sometimes we develop a habit (or take on a role) because it fills a need at that time. Nothing says we have to keep doing it for the rest of our days. When the habit or role no longer serves us, it’s time to let it go. In fact, it’s necessary.
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What habits or roles have you taken on that no longer serve you?