One of the side effects of being in a relationship so long is that it shapes your self-image. My self view was partially constructed internally, but was also built from his external perspective. I believed what he saw in me and that became part of my self construct. This was seamless and not readily apparent until he was gone, leaving me with a single perspective. It felt like going from binocular vision to viewing with only one eye. I lost perspective and depth, seeing myself from a single vantage point, and one that was clouded over with tears.
I lost track of what was me and what was his view of me. I never thought to question any distinction.
Through much of my early journey, I sought to reestablish this stereoscopic vision. I tried to unite how others viewed me with my own self image. With each new person who came into my life, my self image was fleshed out as I gained more information, more data points, with which to add to my existing template. At the same time, the tears that had been clouding my vision began to clear, leaving me with an unobstructed view of myself. I began to shed some of the old me that no longer rang true or had been falsely labeled by him. I learned to create a three dimensional self image that, while accepting of external input, was ultimately created and held by me alone. I no longer depend upon another to bring depth to my life. I chose to carry my own binoculars rather then a monocle looking for a mate.