The fear of judgement is strong. Especially when that judgement is pointed to a decision or mistake so personal, that the very definition of who we are is put on trial.
My good friend Loretta of Countdown to 60 wrote an amazing piece on the fear of being judged. Just three months into a marriage she knew she had made a mistake. But even with her fear she knew she had to end the marriage. I encourage you to read this beautiful and heartfelt piece.
Her post prompted me to write about my fear of being judged for a horrendous decision I had made. The actual decision started with marrying my second husband. It gets very complicated after that.
By the time I decided to leave him, my self-esteem and self-worth was at an all-time low. My feelings about my worth impacted the fear of what others would think of me. Yes, there were people who would judge me. However, that should not have been my concern. My priority should have been to look out for me.
September 24, 2002
I met him – let’s call him Jim. I met Jim in person, after many conversations via an online dating site. He was charming, good-looking, younger, and had a sense of adventure I was craving. We also had many views in common, both atheists, liberal, and we shared a love of reading.
As my friend Loretta wrote in her post, my experience was very similar. It was love at first sight – or so I thought. Looking back, it was just lust at first sight, and a little bit of ‘OMG what does this good looking, younger, intelligent man, see in me?”
September 25, 2002
We took off to Kansas City for the day. Not even 12 hours after we met, I hopped in the car with this complete stranger to a city three hours away.
We moved in together.
August 24, 2004
We were married. I didn’t want to be married again, but I did marry him mostly to please his mother.
After coming home from brunch with a friend, he sat us both down on the couch and proceeded to tell me he might have given me a STD. This was the last straw for me. I left and stayed with a friend.
I moved into my own place.
March 31, 2011
We were divorced
I took the blame for the demise of the marriage. Yes, I did. After all the years of lying, emotional abuse, gaslighting, and tears, I took the blame. Only my closest friends knew what had happened. My family, kids, his family and friends, knew nothing of what had happened.
What reason did I give most for leaving my husband? I needed to be on my own. Sure, I still loved Jim, but I had never really lived on my own and it was time.
Jim also had me all twisted up. He had a way with words and people. His words would slither out of his mouth and swirl around and around in my head like a snake. It became that I didn’t know what to believe. He loved me, how could I do this to him? What he did wasn’t that bad, I was just crazy, jealous, or dumb.
Maybe it really was my fault.
Seriously? Reading those words today I have to shake my head.
I took the blame because I didn’t want to be judged.
During that time I held a professional position. Many looked up to me for my poise and confidence, even saying they wish they had my strength. I was such a poser, yet I never let on. I would nod my head and thank them and reassure them they were just as strong. What would they think if they knew I had stayed so long in that relationship?
There were a few friends that Jim and I shared that would comment to me. They felt what he was doing was wrong. But I jumped to his defense. He wasn’t like that and how dare they think me so stupid that I would stay in an abusive relationship.
I did not want to be seen as weak.
I didn’t want to be judged…
Judged that I stayed too long,
Judged that I let someone treat me like he did.
Judged for being weak.
Judged for not being a better wife.
Judged for being a fake.
Truth is you will be judged. But the fact of the matter still remains – you must do what is right for you.
Now everyone knows why I left. I no longer care about the weight of the judgement my decisions may garner. The worry I wrestled with over judgement was so damaging to me. It kept me in an unhealthy and unsafe situation.
I hope you can find the courage to face the fear of judgement head on and give it a good smack in the face. It’s hard, but once you are on the other side, you are stronger.
Would love your comments and thoughts!
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