Several years ago, had you asked me to describe myself I would have told you that I'm rather unfeminine. I would have told you I don't cry...ever. I cried at my grandma's funeral, and then went about 8 years without shedding a tear. I would have told you I don't participate in public displays of affection, and that I detest pet names. I would have told you that I hate to snuggle. I would have made it very clear that I have no use for displays of excess emotion and I really don't know how to deal with them.
Fast forward three years....go through an affair and a separation. Get a job for the first time in 12 years. Survived having your ex husband try to kill you. Become nearly homeless if it weren't for the love and support of dear family and friends. Spend some time falling in love for the first time in your life. Spend some time being a single parent of four young children. Have your home foreclosed on and your credit destroyed. There is no way I could be the same person after all of that.
It hit me like lightening the other day. BLT asked me a question, "Hey babe can we..." and I replied, "of course my love." HUH? Pet names? Me? I AM that girl now. I am so very fundamentally different in my own eyes from the person I was a few years ago. I'm softer in a way. The thing I look forward to most is crawling into my bed at night and being held by him. We're always looking for moments to snatch a kiss or a cuddle. We walk hand in hand, we talk about our feelings and our dreams for the future.
I've cried more tears in the year and a half since my Ex brought that gun to my house than I've cried in my entire previous 30 odd years on this planet. I feel things very deeply now, and I know that part of that is the PTSD, the fear, and the resulting the frustration and the helplessness that this situation brought about. Part of it is feeling safe, and cherished though too. I don't carry around this weighty judgement and ridicule on my back any longer. I don't feel like I HAVE to be tough to get respect. I KNOW I'm respected.
It just hit me all at once that maybe I've always been this kind of woman...I just wasn't with the right kind of man who could bring out this softer side. Maybe it wasn't ME at all, but instead it was him, or at the very least the dynamic between us that made me so much less affectionate and emotional when I was married to my Ex.
I used to think people didn't change... and maybe our core values and personality traits don't. But I'm starting to believe that the people we surround ourselves with and the people we build a life with have a much greater impact on who we are and how we behave than I ever realized.