Driving home after an Al-Anon meeting tonight, I was thinking that I have been married for the last seventeen and a half years, to an alcoholic with a very large personality. An extrovert, skilled at "schmoozing" - that level of social conversation where nothing of any importance is expressed, but the people involved can sound like great friends, if one doesn't know any better.
What I'm discovering, this last month or so of being on my own, is that people respond to me very differently now that his personality is no longer taking up all the space in the room, eclipsing mine.
In the short time I've been down here on my own, I've been told quite a few times that I have a calm, accepting presence, and that people feel safe with me. That's good for my self-esteem.
Those people might have reconsidered the "calm" part had they seen me last night. I'd turned off all the lights, and was walking towards the bathroom, to wash my face, and brush my teeth before bed. Somehow, I misjudged, and walked straight into the door jamb with my nose - instant agony! I imagine that's just how it feels to be punched in the nose.
My very first thought was "Smart move!" said to myself in a sarcastic fashion.
Even in the midst of my pain, I knew that I was being offered a life lesson. Had I seen anyone else, friend or complete stranger, have that accident, I'd have leapt to help them, asking, "Are you okay? Do you need to sit down? Can I get you a glass of water, or a cold cloth?" Yet for myself, I had only a sarcastic comment. Even as I clutched my face and leaned against the wall, groaning, I decided to treat myself the way I'd treat any other person, asking, "Do I need to sit down, a cold cloth, or a glass of water?"
I gave it a moment's thought as the pain in my face began to subside, and chose the cold cloth, in an effort to gain relief from the pain and possible swelling. Today, you'd never know I did that to my poor nose last night, but the lesson in self-esteem, and treating myself with kindness, has stayed with me. I spend the most time in my own company - doesn't it make sense to treat myself with loving kindness and acceptance"?