There was a surprise feeling I had when I went through my last separation and ultimately the divorce. I felt like a grown-up for the first time since the first few years of the marriage. It took me until this week to figure out why. I used to feel like a grown-up. What happened to make me feel like a child in my marriage and why did it take a divorce to make me feel like an adult again?
My Mom was a drill sergeant when it came to cleaning. I knew how to clean a house from when I was 6 years old. I began working when I was 11 years old. I bought all my clothes and school supplies. I put myself through college. I had my own credit card that I paid off and did not carry a balance on since I was 20 years old. I got college grants and paid rent and utility bills all on my own for years. (I do want to give credit to my brothers and sisters who did give me help on buying me car tires and groceries and giving me a job.) I cleaned my own apartments and got along with roommates. Even when I was married, I had a child, worked a job, finished college, pulled a 4.0, fixed dinner, cleaned the house and took care of my child with little help from the husband. I was a very responsible adult. Yet increasingly I began to feel like a child.
As I was left to be solely responsible for raising the children and keeping the house clean, there were other things that I could not have any responsibility for that I had grown up taking care of since I was a child. I had earned my own money and been responsible for how I spent that money since a young girl. Yet now, in marriage, I was suddenly not being allowed to be responsible to work. Eventually the husband would not allow me any insight into the finances.
When I cleaned, the husband refused to help with the house work, but would follow me around and tell me how to clean. When I was left on my own to clean, he would show his displeasure with dirty kitchen counters or dusting not being done in a week, or the vacuuming wasn’t done to his liking. Although I refused to do any of this to his unusual standards and I would insist that if he didn’t like it, he could do it himself (he never did); the result was that I felt like a child that had to be micro-managed. I was even told I could not hold an opinion without it being wrong. His mother would tell me how to parent and how to be a good wife. I never felt good enough for anyone.
I felt like I could do nothing on my own. That I could not succeed on my own; despite evidence to the contrary.
When I got out on my own, I was paying my own bills, working my own job, getting myself to work. I am feeling like an adult again. I learned what I knew about myself all long—I am an adult, not a child. I always was. It was the husband who didn’t believe in me. It is a wonderful feeling to believe in me and have others who trust me to act as an adult.
Being an adult does not mean you are perfect, it means you can be trusted to make responsible decisions. This is me.