>Finally, at age 32, I'm getting to know myself. For the first time ever. For almost half my life, I was part of a couple. That's a pretty big defining factor; I was Mark's wife, the second half of "MarkandSherry". Don't pretend like you don't know what I'm talking about.
It doesn't seem to matter how strong, independent, or otherwise self-sufficient someone is, when you have been part of a couple for very long, you become one (and not in a spiritual, lovey-dovey way). So one of the many things that changed when Mark died is that I became a solo entity again. Something I hadn't been since I was 16.
We all know that at 16 you don't really know yourself. What are you doing when you're 16? Hoping that the cute boy will like you? Choosing a college? Worrying that you aren't getting enough playing time on the basketball team? Copying your math homework from
I lucked out and found a good man. Nope, he wasn't perfect (as I've written many times), but he was a great guy and I loved him. He was good to be the other half of as long as I got to be. But, we grew up together (he was 19 when we started dating), and that doesn't leave a lot of room for exploring your own interests and thoughts. I know other couples who probably have been able to do this, but Mark and I just did things as a couple when we learned new things. Also, we had a lot of the same interests already (books, music, movies), so it was a pretty natural thing for us to do those things together.
I think the first shocker for me was when I realized that I don't like to cook. I know, I know, you can't believe it. It's true though. Mark and I cooked together all the time. In fact, that was our main hobby together. We'd watch cooking shows and then find a way to experiment with what we had in the fridge and pantry. I became a wicked prep chef. I can chop with the best of them. We laughed and talked when we cooked, so I loved it. Because of my warm fuzzy feelings around cooking, it took me a little while to figure out that I don't actually like to do it on my own. I appreciate and enjoy good food that others have cooked, but I'm not a big fan of cooking it myself.
After the stunning revelation that I don't like cooking, I started really trying to figure out what I DID like. Do I like to read? Yes. Do I like movies? Love them! Do I like C.O.P.S.? Hate the show with a passion [I sort of knew this when Mark was alive, but "let" him watch it anyway]. So there are a lot of things I genuinely like to do that Mark and I did together, but there are a lot of differences.
Some of the big, more important, things had to be figured out too. Long before Mark died, I paid all the bills, so luckily I wasn't one of the widows who have no idea where policies are or how much the rent is. Even though I paid the bills, I was amazed at how often I'd "let" Mark make financial decisions that weren't great. I say "let" because it was easier to do the fun stuff or buy what we wanted if it was because Mark had made the decision even though I knew in reality that it was a bad choice. After he was gone, I went a little nuts for a few months (stupid credit card), and now I'm paying for choices we made as a couple and the ones I made right after he died. I'll be paying for those choices for a long time, but I learned that I hate to be in debt, and cannot stand to owe anyone anything. Can not stand it.
Also? I don't like to sleep with music on; but I do like to read myself to sleep. I don't like to ask people for help; but always appreciate it when someone does it anyway. Except for a few things, most of the stuff I've learned about myself is pretty simple, but it really adds up.
I have a friend who has recently divorced after a lot of years of marriage, and like me, had been with her ex for half her life. She said to me, "It is strange to realize that you are living a life you don't recognize." I have a lot of that feeling when I look back at Mark and me, man were we stupid a lot. I do know for sure, though, that I wouldn't be the person I am today if it weren't for Mark and the many stupid and wonderful things we did as a unit.
Now that I am by myself, I'm getting to know me. What I like, what I don't like, my strengths, and God knows my weaknesses. It's an amazing [and scary] thing to learn about yourself. Everyone should try it.