I am Nelly, a daughter, a wife, and a mother. If education means what you study and where you study, then I am well educated. I used to have opinions, conversations, a career, albeit a haphazard one. But I preferred being with my husband to going to work and, ever since, I became that person. I don’t know who I am anymore.
I followed my husband around everywhere and went wherever he went. Tagging along like a tail, I never left him. And, what’s more, I thoroughly enjoyed it too. I stayed wherever I was expected to stay, from barrack-like quarters to ill-furnished apartments. I was content trying out new, exotic dishes, inviting people over, attending to ‘wifely’ duties that were part of my husband’s professional requirements, and even bent over backwards to please my in-laws, always unsuccessfully. The best part was that no one asked me to do this, not even my husband. I was my own enemy when it comes to losing my identity.
Now I Feel Like I Don’t Know Who I Am
My husband was quite proud of me initially. And, then slowly, over the years, I lost my way completely. Don’t get me wrong. I still voiced my opinion and often had a captive audience comprising both men and women. But, I did make a massive blunder. I centered my life around my husband. I didn’t realize that I had slowly turned into a bedraggled, irritable and nagging, and crazy wife, who was mostly in the kitchen when guests came over, while my husband chatted them up in the living room.
I didn’t realize that my husband had stopped spending time with me and would leave the room when I walked in. At social gatherings, he would often interrupt me and change the topic of conversation. If I called him, he would find it very easy to put me on hold to attend to someone else. But if someone else called while I was trying to speak to him, he would take their call instead. If someone said something to hurt me in his presence, he would not support me. Or if our son was rude, he would not admonish him, but left me to rave and rant and then simply shut the door on my face.
He was cheating on me and this worsened my loss of identity
I started feeling bad when I stumbled upon salacious messages exchanged between my husband and other women. I hadn’t even realized that my husband was solving other women’s problems and was visiting them while I languished at home getting clothes washed and ironed or arranging for food. His cheating evidence is what woke me up and made me realize that over time, I lost my identity and my place in his life.
I didn’t realize that, over the years, my husband would communicate with me only if some domestic requirement arose. That’s when it occurred to me – I have no identity and he doesn’t treat me like anything.
I didn’t realize that it had been a long, long time since we had touched each other. Our sexless marriage only made things worse and he never expressed the need to come close.
I had stopped looking in the mirror and had no idea what my body looked like. Or what my husband’s body looked like now. I had no idea what was going on in his life, his job (he no longer required me for his professional protocol as he had switched professions), his family, or his plans.
It didn’t matter to him if I was hurt, sick, lonely, ugly, or content, happy, healthy. Whether I had grey hair or dyed my hair. Whether I want to share my innermost thoughts or fears or tell him that I don’t like seeing him holding another woman’s hand.
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I Lost My Identity In My Marriage
It doesn’t matter whether I wanted to know what he’s thinking about or what plans he’s making for himself. It doesn’t whether I wanted to share my dreams or simply share a drink, whether I wanted to be part of a conversation or be praised by someone. Whether I worry for our child or have spent the better part of a marriage that is over, rustling up his favorite dishes and waited and prayed fervently for his return. That’s what it can feel like, losing your identity in a relationship.
It doesn’t matter to him that while you have let go of your looks, health, desires, you are totally spent looking after his home, which you mistakenly thought was yours too, for two decades. And that, while you are busy arranging the logistics for the child’s dinner and what needs to be done for the next day, instead of dressing up for that party, he spends the better part of the evening with another dazzling looking woman who didn’t do any of those things.
And, what really hurt, you know? Not one person ever asked him where I had gone, where I had disappeared, or who I even was.
You don’t need a husband who beats you up, or insults you, or engages in extramarital affairs to ruin your self-esteem, crush your identity and make you start losing your sense of self. You just need a husband who looks right through you as though you don’t exist. You have ceased to exist as a woman for him. You have ceased to exist as a companion. You are simply a housekeeper and his body language is dismissive of you. He simply ignores you.
It hurts when your spouse no longer respects you as his partner. I am Nelly, nobody important. I have a name but I don’t know who I am anymore.
(As told to Moupia Basu)
Losing yourself in a marriage can be a difficult thing because it feels like you have shed all you used to be before. But, to regain your identity, you first need to break out of the dull routine you’ve created for yourself. Engage in your hobbies, meet some old friends, reconnect with somebody from your past and relive all that you used to love about yourself.
Losing sense of self can be a harrowing experience and leave you completely disheartened. To cope with the same, consider therapy and understanding the reasons that urged your loss of identity.
Losing your identity in a relationship is common because the relationship and the other person seem to dominate your being to the point where you cannot recall who you are anymore. But, in a case like this, it is important to understand what it is that made you allow them to walk all over you. Is there something unfulfilled in your own life, are you out of love or do you need a greater purpose? Ponder on the same and act accordingly.