Lost years: Do you feel behind?

Updated: Aug 24, 2021

I read an article the other day about women like us. I cannot locate the article otherwise I would directly quote it, but basically the author said abused women didn't have the opportunity to grow up. When I read this I was stunned and yet it resonated with me. Is that how I feel? Yes, I do!

Why do I love Twilight? The Hunger Games? Divergent? Why do I identify with these young girls? Why was I so excited when I learned that I shared the same MBTI personality with Katniss? In fact, why am I going through some of the same life events now, that my daughters are also going through as young married women?

I think it's due to the fact that we as emotionally abused women, stopped developing. Think about it. When I was newly married my focus was on this person I had dedicated my life to: how I could please him, learning his likes/dislikes, cooking his favorite meals, etc. My focus was on him! That was normal. But, the problem was that my focus never came off of him. We never developed a relationship of mutuality. Even after children (and my focus totally was about their well-being), I was really only adding a layer of hyper-focused attention. What do I mean by that? Well, because I had these beautiful precious kids of my own, I wanted to protect them and help them become the best versions of themselves. But, because I was hyper-aware of my husband's mood, I was constantly adjusting my plans/thoughts/desires to accommodate him. If the kids got in the way of his happiness, I immediately jumped in the middle to protect them. My focus was always on him. But we all understand why: It's called survival.

Granted, I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom to my 4 kiddos. I had attended a well-renowned Christian university, where I met my husband. I had a degree in education and even taught until our firstborn was almost 3. But I had always planned to stay home with my kids, if it was possible. Don't get me wrong, I don't regret that decision and I certainly did not realize that I was being emotionally and verbally abused and would one day think divorce was an option. If I had considered any of that, I would have made a conscience decision to get a full-time job, or at least a PT one, with the possibility of advancement, so I could financially support my children. But that was not my mindset and so now I look back and feel a bit naive, a bit embarrassed.

You see, when my husband and I split up almost 4 years ago, with God's direction, I took the first year to heal. But then I started looking for work. It never occurred to me that I was "old." I mean, come on, I feel like I'm 25. I started out subbing and absolutely loved being back in the classroom. Then about a year ago, I got a substitute teaching job in a 9th grade Algebra class. The teacher did not know I had a math background so he left instructions for me to combine my class with another Algebra class, where that teacher could instruct both classes together. Well, I was in heaven! I got so excited listening to the instructor give examples of multiplying/dividing exponents. I jumped up and started walking up and down the aisles, offering my assistance to the students. This was a turning point for me. I left that day knowing my dream teaching job would be 9th grade Algebra!!! From that a day on, I let it be known that I wanted to be back in the classroom full-time. But just this week I received emails from 3 teachers who have decided to retire. Each of them were not much older than me, and I believe one may have even been younger! Wait! What? How can that be when I'm only 25! What am I to do with this? Am I marketable? So many years that I can never get back. I'm close to retirement age and should be thinking about relaxing, enjoying grandkids, and traveling. Of course, I am looking forward to each of those realities. But, I've just received a fresh look at life and all of it's possibilities and I want to give back. I want to make a difference.

So what do I do? What do we do? I think I need to write a Part 2, answering that question, as well as exploring just how we got behind. Be of good cheer ladies. We're in this together! Many before us have risen out of the trenches and discovered just how beautiful life is now, without the everyday struggle of just trying to survive. We've lost some years but look ahead at the years we've gained by finding our true selves.




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