12 July, 2009

why i chose to walk away

People, mainly women, ask me all the time, why I chose to leave my marriage of 14 years. I guess I can understand the questioning. We were college sweethearts, falling head over heels very early on. We had 5 children together, 14 years of marriage, owned 2 homes, several cars, 3 dogs, 2 cats and a couple of fish and turtles. We’d been together through new jobs, losing jobs, new friends, old friends, losing friends, losing parents, and we were actively involved in the community as a family. Seemed perfect, right?

The truth is, neither of us had been happy in a while. We were very good at going through the motions, but leading up to the separation, I don’t think either of us could remember a good day, much less debate the good outweighing the bad. I think that we all reach a certain point, when a relationship may be on a downhill slide, of deciding how much is it worth, to keep the facade in place, to continue pretending. We start to debate how hard it will be to actually be apart, to make perhaps the most drastic change in our lives.

We think, is it selfish? How will the kids handle it? Will they understand? Will they hate me? What if I’m wrong? What if I’m completely misreading the situation? And, gasp, what will people think? How will ‘we’ deal with the perception of things falling apart at home?

We both had our issues with all of these questions, but at the end of the day, what mattered most was making that each of us, and the kids, were okay. Dealing with perception was difficult. Answering questions from acquaintances was difficult. Reassuring the kids (and ourselves) that it would be okay was difficult.

The actual act of leaving was relatively easy. Making the decision, that yes, I am going to take MY life back and live it, that I’m going to be happy and not feel badly about it. That by doing this for myself, I’m giving him that gift as well, permission to try to be happy again. When we are really being honest with ourselves, he and I, we know it’s better this way. We both know, even though it was only ever discussed once, that if I’d not left, we’d still be together, and both still be unhappy, stagnant, not making the strides that we both are making today.

We have rough days from time to time, but the kids are happy. We are happy. Sure, I miss him from time to time, in old familiar situations, like sitting down to watch college football on Saturdays, or going to my favorite farmer’s market, or when the kids do something that I know he’d appreciate. Those moments are proving to be the toughest to negotiate.

Not everyone understands it. Hell, sometimes I don’t understand it. But everyday, I find a little more of the me that I had lost along the way. I find little bits of strength and courage and wisdom that are tucked away in places I forgot about. I’m learning more about the woman I am, and more importantly, the woman I want to be.

To take a line from my favorite book, Dance of the Dissident Daughter, by Sue Monk Kidd, ‘There is undreamed voice, strength, and power in the feminine soul’.

I want to find mine.

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