Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fighting The GOW Insecurity Monster

I think most women, as a gender, are naturally insecure. We get so many confusing messages from family, friends, other people, the media....all of them telling us how to act, how to look, what to do with our lives, what to eat, etc....arrgh!! I have two daughters, and it's always been quite the parental chore for me to get them to understand that they should learn to shut out the "noise" of others, and just be happy with who they are.

Alas, many women are chained to a childhood past that may have included harsh judgement, negative stereotypes, and absolute verbal abuse from misguided people who made them feel "less than". These women end up as very confused and insecure adults who carry the chains of their past with them throughout their lives. These women often perpetuate their own self-destructive cycle of insecurity by consistently mentally referencing the negativity, and they do this because, frankly, it's all they've ever known. It's like the only manual in their head is the one entitled, "You're Unworthy"...and the audiotape of that book constantly plays and replays over and over again.

When such a woman dates a widower, it's no wonder she will have the MOST difficult time being a GOW. Geesh, even an extremely self-aware and secure woman struggles with feeling second best in these relationships from time to time, so you can imagine how a chronically insecure woman would handle it! She may never feel "good enough" as she constantly compares herself to the LW herself and/or W's marriage to LW.

But there is hope! First of all, allow me to validate your feelings as 100% NORMAL for a GOW! There isn't a GOW or WOW alive who hasn't felt "less than" in her relationship with a W at some point. NOT ONE! Knowing she is not alone nor are her feelings "crazy" often relieves the pressure a GOW feels about her insecurity. However, as I always say, "Normal does NOT equal productive!" "Owning" the fact that you have insecurities is the first step towards healing them....and then the hard work begins. Healing from insecurity must begin from the inside out. What I mean by this is that you CANNOT and SHOULD NOT depend on others to validate yourself. YOU are responsible for your OWN happiness, and thus, your own sense of self-worth.

In therapy, counsellors use a technique wherein they teach their extremely insecure patients to "re-learn" their self-worth/value by substituting the negative "voices" (in the mind) of the past with positive affirmations. This takes a conscious daily effort. Some re-learning techniques include seemingly silly but very effective daily affirmations, such as beginning the day by looking in the mirror and saying out loud to your image, "You are beautiful, intelligent, and worthy of love...and you're going to have a great day!" As well, if you make a mistake during the day, you will learn to substitute negative responses such as "Oh, I'm SUCH a klutz/an idiot/worthless!" with "Oh well, fiddle dee dee, everyone makes mistakes. I’ll just have to learn from this and move on" affirmations. Admittedly, it feels weird doing this the first couple of times, and most people will struggle with believing what they are saying...but the truth is, sooner or later, substituting negative energy with positive energy starts to morphing the childhood lies into a new, beautiful truth - that YOU ARE INDEED a beautiful, intelligent, love-worthy human being!!

Secondly, understand that, while LW and W may have been "perfect" for each other back when they were together, YOU are perfect for him NOW. Your W is NOT the same man he was when he was married to LW. His loss, the strength he has earned by surviving it and coping with it, and other positive character traits he picked up along the way - such as patience and perseverance - have changed him into a very different man; one who is better suited for YOU than he would be for LW if, by some miracle, she returned. Also, remember that you and LW are very different people, autonomous and unique in your own ways. Look at it his way: If your W had WANTED a clone f his LW, he wouldn’t be with you, would he? Thus, he CHOSE you because you are better matched to the person he has BECOME, not the person he used to be.

Thirdly, remember that it IS possible to love two people at the same time for different reasons. Think of how parents do this with ease, loving ALL their children equally but each for their own uniqueness. Your W's love for his LW does NOT diminish what he feels about you, and vice versa. You and LW are like apples and oranges in the fruit bowl of your W's heart. ACCEPT that he will always hold a special place in his heart for her...but that his heart is big enough for him to love YOU with as much passion, if not more.

Lastly, forgive yourself your jealousies of LW and the life your W shared with her. She is not the enemy - grief is. Luckily, grief CAN be managed to a point where it no longer interferes with personal growth and happiness. And when your W finally gets to this point, the pay-off for you will be amazing. Trust me.