As I approach the anniversary of the day I lost Christine I’m finding myself experiencing thoughts and emotions I went through months ago, but with new a perspective, through a lens of forced grace and forgiveness toward myself.
Because this is all old and new I’m also a bit better at being honest with myself. Several months ago I wrote about my realization that I could be a selfish person. Or rather, thoughtless. I often took Christine for granted, trusting she’s be just fine when I left the country for several weeks, explaining away her sacrifice as justified for my work. Or going out with friends, leaving her at home with the kids on short notice. Soccer games, rugby tickets. She never complained. I’ve had so much guilt.
Not that I was a total asshole. I gave her absolutely anything she asked. She complained about cooking when I was out of town so I’d prep a week’s worth of meals. I’d drop everything and run to help if she asked and I’d buy her anything she wanted (except for a horse and I was already researching costs to make that happen).
I never tried to be self-centered. I just didn’t see it well when I was doing it.
Now, nearly a year into my post-love era I can confidentially call myself selfish. And idgaf.
What’s that look like? It’s manifested in many ways, but primarily my unwillingness to put others first in some circumstances.
For instance, there was a woman I was seeing. Nothing serious, but we were spending some time together. I noticed she was starting to ask things of me. Nothing big, nothing life changing. Just letting preferences be known but stating them more like demands. Things she expected from a man she was seeing.
And I totally get it. She’s come out of a relationship where she lost herself, doing everything for her partner and she wasn’t going to do that again.
With Christine I always took on more. More work, more rides to soccer practice, more dinners cooked, especially as she began to spiral. Then when I was seeing A I found myself doing the same thing, trying to be exactly what she wanted me to be, particularly bad timing as I was also trying to find out who I was without Christine (although I didn’t know it at the time).
What’s the point? I’ve realized I don’t want to be what someone else wants me to be. And I won’t.
This doesn’t mean I can’t compromise or find middle ground with people. It just means I’m not going to be the person they want me to be for the sake of it.
And this isn’t just in relationships. In life I’ve taken similar stances. I used to do a lot I didn’t want to do. I’m learning how to say no. Even better, learning how to say no and not feel guilty about it later.
Is this selfish? Putting my interests first like this instead of being afraid to be anything other than selfless? Selfish maybe. Bad? No.
In retrospect it was reasonable to expect my wife to watch my kids while we built my career. It was ok for me to spend time with friends. Just because she didn’t do the same things didn’t mean it was bad I did.
And I’m ok with that.