Eventually, I knew I had to make a decision. The bottom line was that I was not doing a great job of being happy in the midst of living separate lives. While we had been doing it for years, I was starting to wonder if I wanted my daughter to witness us barely communicating and see that as normal. She was getting older and our relationship would serve as the imprint of what she would desire or expect from relationships and people later in her life. Did I want her to see a cold, perfunctory, duty-bound co-existence as something that was acceptable? Not only that, but one of the biggest reasons why I feared being a single mother was because I equated it with being unhappy, over worked, stressed and frustrated. The last thing I wanted was for my daughter to see me unhappy. Yet, within my marriage, I was unhappy. I had shut off my need for passion, for togetherness, for excitement, for joy for the sake of being in an intact marriage. Would she not see that one day, if she hadn’t seen it already? The bottom line was that, I was still unhappy, so what was I shielding my daughter from and was I potentially creating more damage by providing her with a skewed view of relationships and setting her up for poor relationship choices early on?
Not only that, but how long could I go without having my own needs and hopes fulfilled? I was still relatively young. I still had some good years left! I had already shut myself down mentally, emotionally and physically in order to not complain in the midst of a dead marriage. How long was I willing to continue to live like that and sacrifice my own dreams for a successful, working partnership?
If I was going to end my marriage, I figured I needed to do it sooner rather than later. First of all, sooner was better– while my daughter was still young and immature enough to be able to adjust without subconsciously placing the blame on herself (as older children are wont to do). Secondly, I certainly did not want her to view our mode of coexisting as normal. Third of all, I wanted the chance to find the love that I had always dreamed about with a partner I was truly compatible with, someone I could dream with, plan with and laugh with. Not that being with a partner was a necessity for my happiness. I honestly felt that if it was not my destiny (within God’s will or however you want to phrase it) for me to marry again, that I would learn to be okay with that and to learn to pray for happiness, period, instead.
My husband was not a bad person. Neither was I—which is what made the prospect of divorce even harder to swallow and all the more confusing for me. Why couldn’t we just commit to making the changes that it would take to make the marriage work? I lamented and mourned. Unbeknownst to him, I went through my initial stages of grief while we were still living together—mainly bargaining and anger (and to be honest, terror) until I had to stop finding a reason to be angry or to blame. I had to face the honest truth (that I was deciding to leave my marriage) and make myself totally responsible for my situation and the choice that I was making. I couldn’t blame him. And then, I wondered, why should I blame me? The bottom line was that, after everything was said and done, regardless of what had happened, how it had happened and who was responsible for what had happened, I wanted the opportunity to choose a different reality. I wanted a new beginning, a chance to build a new destiny– with a new love… or peacefully and joyfully by myself. The bottom line was that I just simply didn’t want this anymore.
So I left. And it was, arguably, the toughest, most courageous thing I’ve ever done in my life.