In continuing on with unexpected emotions I experienced during my divorce, I turn now to self-doubt.
Self-doubt is a feeling of doubt or uncertainty about one’s abilities, actions, etc.
For the most part, I’ve always been a pretty self-aware and confident person. I credit my parents with this. They always spoke words of positivity, affirmation, validation, power, and strength into my siblings and I. If ever we struggled with a task (in school or at work), experienced a social challenge (like breakups or fights with friends), or went through any hormonal shift (puberty, adolescence, etc.), they were quick to reaffirm who we are as their children and children of God.
So imagine my surprise when I became immersed in self-doubt during my divorce. I can’t recall if it happened suddenly and all at once, or gradually. I remember feeling low in the beginning. But that lowness was the result of a combination of feelings - sorrow, anger, fear, confusion. I didn’t try to dissect it at that time; I was too busy surviving.
Slowly, the feelings included in that lowness started to melt away, and I found my life getting better. I’d gotten a job; turned my apartment into a sanctuary; developed a new social life; and gotten closer with my family. Yet, I couldn’t shake this lingering feeling of lowness. It crept up at work, at home, with friends and family, but mostly in my relationships with men. It wasn’t until a few months ago that I was able to pin down that lowness and identify it as self-doubt.
Since my husband had left me, a common or logical response would be that I was at fault - something defective about me had caused this man to leave me. Was I not pretty or sexy enough? Not intelligent or accomplished enough? Not a good enough companion or mother? I couldn’t help but think that there was something wrong with me.
And this self-doubt manifested itself everywhere. At work, I was accomplishing more than any of my predecessors in the time I was there, yet questioned whether it was good quality or timing. At home, I was the primary caretaker for my daughter and managed to keep her happy and even potty trained, yet questioned whether I was doing enough or present enough. With friends, I was present for birthdays, baby showers, and weddings, yet questioned whether I was a solid friend. With men, I was managing to attract all sorts of attention and interest, yet questioned whether their interest was real or long-lasting. Despite all of the obvious signs indicating I was doing just fine in life, the residual self-doubt from my experience with my ex overrode all of them.
I wish I could say I’d completely triumphed over this self-doubt. But in all honesty, I’m still traversing it. I have days where I’m confident and self-assured for the entire day, in every aspect of my life. Then I have days where I’m confident in some areas, and self-doubting in the others. And still, there are some days where I experience self-doubt in all areas and all day. I can, however, say that as time progresses, the self-doubt lessens. I imagine it’s because my wounds are healing, and time is comforting.
To get through those moments or days of self-doubt, I have a little toolkit of self-assuring mechanisms. It includes:
Gospel music. In particular, “You Say” by Lauren Daigle.
Conversations with my mother because no one pumps you up better than your mother.
Female empowerment quotes. You can get some from my Pinterest board.
Reality television because other people’s lives are a great distraction. (This may be sad or unfortunate, but it's true!)
If you’re in this same boat, as so many of us are, I feel confident in saying ‘this too shall pass’!