I stood staring into our pantry the other morning. I wasn’t really seeing anything though. I was trying to hide from my feelings — again. I have a way of pushing down thoughts that don’t make me feel strong. So many of us do this because we feel uncomfortable and don’t know what to do with these emotions. And so we mask them instead. We go into survival mode.
But today, I just couldn’t do it anymore. My marriage: It has been falling apart for years, and I needed to face it. I felt like a soda bottle that had been shaken up. I knew once I cracked the cap open there would be no stopping the pressure that had been building, and I would have to clean up the mess. It was time to crack the cap — I couldn’t bear the pressure any longer.
And so I decided to stop pushing these feelings aside. I was longing for true strength — strength I could feel throughout me even if it was laced with pain and sorrow. I knew I couldn’t face my hardships if I didn’t even allow myself to face the feelings causing them, raw as they might be. I needed to see my mess and start cleaning it up. No more pushing away the thoughts I had been carrying around for years. I needed to let them swallow me, and it actually felt good to loosen my grip.
That night in bed, after a few days of tiptoeing around each other, my husband looked at me and said, “I think I should move out. The writing is on the wall. We both need to be happy.”
Something hit me then. It was a mixture of dread, happiness, relief, and strength. It’s so confusing to feel all these things at the same time, but we can’t control that part of ourselves. So I didn’t even try. I was too tired to tighten my grip again.
I sat with my feelings that night. The next morning I stared them straight in the face, and I haven’t stopped since. I let all the emotions deep inside me rise to the surface. I knew I could not brush them away any longer, like I had been doing for so many years since we stopped making time for each other, since we stopped having regular sex, since we stopped appreciating each other, since we stopped supporting each other, since his affair and his confession, since we both vowed to try with everything we had to save our marriage.
The truth is I wish I had been the strong one. I wish I had been able to say, “You need to go, or I need to go, but something has to change because we can not go on like this,” but it was him. Maybe I pushed him to do it because I couldn’t say the words. I could only show him with my actions that I wanted space from our marriage.
You can only live as roommates for so long before you long for passion and a love that is whole. You can only hear your kids ask you if you still love each other once or twice before you realize it’s not just your secret. It becomes theirs too. A secret they don’t need to keep.
When you are unhappy it trickles down onto everyone living in your home. You all feel it. And because he said what I couldn’t say, it made me face something else: I had been too afraid to speak up. I didn’t think my feelings were valid enough to justify a split. Like maybe I should just suck it up and stay. I didn’t think my reasons were solid and asking for what I needed would be frowned upon.
No matter what your situation is, if you feel like you need to leave your marriage, then do it. Walk away if you feel it’s time. Don’t try to stay together for your kids, your friends, your family. It doesn’t matter if infidelity, abuse, or lying is not a factor in your marriage. There is no shame in divorce, ever. If you feel like you would be a better version of yourself without your partner, then go.
I am not saying don’t put the work in. I am not saying don’t treat it like the huge deal that it is. I am not saying it isn’t going to be hard as fuck. It is a fragile situation. I am saying when you no longer love the person you have married as you feel you should, if you are miserable, it is better for you both to walk away. To give each other the chance to experience a new beginning alone, with another person, or to realize maybe you do have more of a solid foundation than you realized and that person really is the one you should be with. Sometimes we need to put space in between our hurt and the person causing it to be able to see how we are really feeling.
For my husband and me, ever since that night, we have both felt lighter. We have decided this is probably the best decision for us now because we both deserve the love that we shared on our wedding day, even if it is not with each other.
I am not the 27- year-old woman who cried when I said, “You are my beloved” to him in front of all our friends and family and felt it with my entire soul. I am not her anymore, and that is OK.
He is not the same man who planned our entire honeymoon and saved it all as a surprise and didn’t let me in on anything. The man who, upon seeing how homesick I was, cancelled the last leg of our trip so he could get me home. He is different now, and that is OK.
We both feel stronger. Maybe it’s because we have a plan. It doesn’t mean we haven’t had hard moments. It just means we can relate to each other. We are both feeling the same way. We both know the relationship we once had is over, and maybe we will find each other again, but maybe we won’t.
We still love each other and are determined to make this a healthy transition for our kids and for each other. I think that’s because we are separating while there is still something there. We have not let the water run so dry that we aren’t aware of one another’s feelings. I still see him. I know he has feelings and is hurting. And he is concerned about me and how this will affect me and our family unit.
I believe the transition can be healthy. I believe if you need to leave your marriage, you should. I believe you can break free from the life you thought you wanted if it doesn’t serve you anymore. I believe you can heal by creating space when you feel like you are gripping onto something so tight, you start to feel miserable and resentful.
I believe you are the only one who knows how you are supposed to feel, even if that goes against the grain, because ever since that night, I have felt like a better version of myself. I know this is going to be hard, but I know, no matter the outcome, we will both learn through the hurt and be stronger because of it.
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