I always thought that the hardest thing in my life would be losing my Dad.
That was hard, really hard and his death had a profound effect on me, but the hardest thing I have ever had to do was something I never imagined happening and that was to make the decision to separate from my husband.
My soul couldn’t take any more of being stuck in a perpetual loop with the same issues on repeat. Although, the real issue was in never finding a solution.
I confided in a couple of select friends who all offered opposing opinions which added to my confusion and I deliberated on making a decision for two years.
“What about the children?” they’d say.
What about the children?
Family means everything to me, yet here I was delaying this decision making process because I was fearful of hurting my children and the repercussions this may have.
Is it utterly selfish to put your needs over the needs of your children?
There is no right answer to this one, only what is in your heart, what is true for you.
What I know is that the longer you hold onto something that no longer fills you up, serves you, grows you or makes you happy, the more exhausted and depleted you become.
Would my children blame me? Would they ever forgive me?
I paid close attention and observed my children.
Which changed the question.
What am I teaching my children?
I came to understand the true impact of what I would be teaching them if I stayed.
That it was OK to tolerate and put up with situations and events in life that leave us feeling contracted or unhappy.
That, in my book is not empowering nor is it an aspiring message I want to pass on to my children.
Let me make this clear, I wasn’t in an abusive marriage. Far from it.
We simply came to the end of our shared path.
Depleted and utterly exhausted I finally made my decision even if it didn’t make sense logically. I found the courage to speak my truth and to share what was in my heart, regardless of other people’s opinions and reactions. It no longer mattered what anyone else thought of me, what really matters is what I thought of myself.
But, just because a relationship doesn’t last, doesn’t mean it didn’t work.
This was the man I chose to be the father of my children, a generous, quick-witted, easy going man I have loved and lived with for 29 years, my best years. I hope that in itself means something.
We did our best and have reaped innumerable happy memories to treasure and appreciate.
And so the healing process begins. Its early days, I’m healing well.
I learned so much from holding on and even more in letting go.
As this new season of our lives begins, I’ve found comfort in the words of Marianne Williamson
“Relationships are eternal. The ‘separation’ is another chapter in the relationship. Often letting go of the old form of the relationship becomes a lesson in pure love, much deeper than any would have learned had the couple stayed together.”
Just because our relationship didn’t last, doesn’t mean we completely stop loving each other, it means far more than that, it means we can now stop hurting each other.
And what about the children?
It isn’t marriage that matters so much to a child’s wellbeing.
What matters most is the quality of the relationship they have with their parents who love them and are united in raising them. I’ve come to accept that parents do not need to live under the same roof to achieve this.
Of many books I read during my wavering decision to separate I highly recommend reading:
Committed: A Love Story – Elizabeth Gilbert
Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay – Mira Kirshenbaum