I write this today for the person who thinks they’re alone. For the person wondering if anyone is going through what she is going through.
I write this today to speak of failure. To speak of change and growth and strength and survival.
I write this today because life breaks all of us. But some people grow stronger at the broken places.
Two months ago my husband came to me and told me he was not in love with me anymore. A shock for sure. Or more of an awakening? I was shocked to hear that he did not love me, but I think my soul and heart had known for a while. At first, I didn’t feel out of love with him. At first my instinct was to thank him for telling me, to preserve whatever I could of his opinion of me. I know from experience that acting out or begging someone to stay only pushes them further and further from you. In the past, I was the one leaving.
I woke the next morning and hoped it was a dream. I hoped through the night, because of how civilly I had reacted, that he was once again in love with me.
He was not. He was relieved to have told me. He was done. He wanted to try couples counseling but only for our son.
I had been asking to go to counseling for months. I knew something was wrong. Each of our daily fights ended in me wanting to leave. As I sat with my own heart and thoughts for the first time, I realized I no longer wanted this either. At least, not the version of this we had become.
I see my husband the way I see all people, as a human. We are family after all, bonded forever by our sweet son. I respect many things about him, and whatever our differences and hurts and wrongs and harms, I can always work to see those respected things.
His opposition has held a mirror up to me and made me dull some of my heightened, sharp edges. I no longer cry myself to sleep at night because of anxiety, depression and heart ache for our world. I no longer need a man to tell me I’m pretty. I no longer need a man to use my body for his own satisfaction to feel loved. I worked on myself in the comfortable pain and darkness of our relationship. When he became hardened or averse to me, I worked on myself.
In the past, I did whatever it took to be accepted. I changed the way I acted, dressed, looked and spoke in order to find love. I got very good at playing that part. In fact, I got so good at that part- I convinced myself it was what I wanted. The world wanted me to be a good mom and a good wife- so I became them.
Here’s the thing about playing a part- you end up leading two lives. The one that is outward facing. The one that makes the world comfortable and accepting. The other secret life is quiet. In the quiet of my heart, I dreamed my big dreams. I knew my talents, knew that I wanted more from this life than to be someone’s wife. Knew that I was made for more.
This is not to say that being a wife and a mama is not a beautiful path, it is the most beautiful calling for some. But when it is not yours, or not your only one, trying to fit yourself into that mold can hurt. And trying to live as someone else can lead to darkness. Talents and skills and dreams and wishes and hopes are like any other living thing – they can’t grow in the dark (Rachel Hollis).
So I’m stepping out of the dark. Away from the heavy burden of a partner that does not love me, not the real me, and I’m stepping into the sun.
I almost didn’t. I almost stayed in that dark, lonely place. I tried to forget all my dreams and plans. Tried to mold myself into the woman he wanted. But in the end it made us both sad and contemptuous. Each blaming the other for how bad it felt to try to fold ourselves into the partner the other wanted.
We did one thing right, however. We created Miles. And for him, I will be forever grateful. My beautiful son.
People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. That’s what everyone tells you to want. But I think a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life (Liz Gilbert). In this way, my husband and I were soulmates.
Not life partners, nor meant for each other, but we were mirrors held up to each other and through that, we grew.
I don’t regret one bit of this. I am only grateful. Grateful for Miles, grateful for our wedding and marriage. Grateful for our mutual trust and understanding that we will be exceptional co-parents to Miles for as long as we live. Grateful that I know during this next year of separation that I will not seek partnership, I will only seek myself.
We will be forever tied, forever respecting one another as we raise our boy. We will be family forever, friends with a common goal. The expression ‘conscious uncoupling‘ has become synonymous with a divorce where both partners accept that they each played a role in the breakup and, in particular, are looking to co-parent in a functional and healthy way in the future. Into this new world we travel.
I am not saying that any of this has been easy. That finding out the person I chose for life is no longer choosing me. I’m not saying that there were not nights of weeping or that I don’t still re-enter the grief cycle.
What I am saying is that we can do hard things. That perfect, pretty plan we have worked out in our heads might not be what we’re meant for after all. That we are made for more.