I was married. I was lonely. How does that happen??
I had told myself for years… you’ll never have the courage to leave. You have 3 small kids. He doesn’t drink, he doesn’t cheat, he doesn’t gamble. So he comes home late, tired and grumpy. He works hard and you can’t support him? You selfish girl, the voice said. Only thinking of yourself. So you aren’t happy… your a mom, a wife – make your family happy then you’ll be happy. It’s that simple.
I wanted my marriage to be an example for my kids, it was far from it. I wanted to share my life with my partner. I wanted to be connected, I wanted to talk.
I felt like a nuisance, especially if I opened my mouth. His eyes and body language said “what now?” In fact, we took a trip to NYC and I made an agreement with myself… I will not speak unless spoken to. When I did speak, it would be short and concise. No elaborating, sharing my views or thoughts. I didn’t speak much on that trip. We got home and my husband said, “I have to tell you, I think that was the best trip we ever had!” He was so excited. My heart was broken. I let him in on my little plan and his excitement turned to annoyance.
What I wanted and what I had were two different things. I thought it was all him. What I didn’t realize was the only thing standing in my way was me. No one or no thing could make me happy but me.
Freedom comes from the realization the only person you have control of is yourself. So if I couldn’t change him, gulp, I’d have to change.
It was a week before my 37th birthday. My dad, who breathed belief in me and had a love for life, died from cancer on his 38th birthday. Out of nowhere I thought… if I had a year left to live, is this the way I want to live it? There was a very loud HELL NO.
As sudden as the thought hit me, I found myself walking into the garage where my husband was. “We need to talk, I’m not happy”. His response didn’t shock me, “really, now, you are going to lay this on me?” He realized the seriousness when I followed it with “I won’t be going.” He looked puzzled. This wasn’t ‘new’ news, me being unhappy. I had told him several times. Things needed to change, and they would for a week or two, then go right back to our same old routine. What was new and puzzled him was I was not going on our family vacation. I was serious, he knew it. Inside I knew I was done but hadn’t yet worked up the courage to go that far. Not now, not yet. We separated.
Two months later I moved out.The journey began.
At some point, I hit the autopilot button while in the passenger seat and didn’t realize it. I got out of the car and stepped into the drivers seat. Switched from automatic to manual. I was ready to take responsibility for my life, my happiness. Are you ready? Here are a few tips to help get you started…
- Speak your truth
That week before my 37th birthday I was ready to stop pretending. Pretending everything was ok and I was happy.
What are you tired of thinking or doing? Be honest with yourself. Say it out loud. Honor what comes out without judging or editing.
- Feel your feelings.
I spent many a night holding back my tears. I thought it was a sign of weakness to express my emotions. I was voted most sensitive in high school and I was going to prove them wrong! When holding back wasn’t working I decided to try the opposite. It felt so good to not deny my body what it was trying to express.
Cry, laugh, scream, sigh. Allow your emotions to move through you. What you resist persists and grows stronger. What you embrace dissolves.
- Build a circle of support.
Once I spoke my truth, my aunt and cousin were by my side. Not telling me what to do or how I should act but asking me questions and sharing books to read and speakers to listen to. There were my life line to hope.
Take an inventory of the people in your life. Create a tribe or inner circle of supportive and loving individuals.
- Write it!
I filled many pages with emotionally charged words… Why now? All I wanted was you to talk to me. Now I’ve left and all you do is call me. What the f@&#? Stop trying, it won’t work, I’m done. I can’t breathe. LEAVE ME THE HELL ALONE!
Get it out of your head and on paper, tell them how you really feel. Then burn the sucker (I mean the letter). Watch your letter go up in smoke and release. It may take one letter or several. Don’t judge or edit what you write, let it flow, let it roll and DO NOT GIVE the letter to the addressee. BURN.
- Be grateful.
Each evening I’d grab my gratitude journal, I’m grateful for… a warm apartment I feel at home in; the mechanic who changed my oil for half price; having a sit down dinner with the kids. This practice took the focus on the part of my life that felt out of control and switched my focus to the things that were working.
Express gratitude for the experiences, people and things that show up in your life. Write it down! You get more of what you notice. Make it a practice. Whether it’s once a day or week.
My cousin suggested I look into a mirror, gaze into my soul through my eyes and say “I love you.” Mean it, say it often. Sound corny? I know, I thought so too!! Until I started doing it.
Notice what you tell yourself. Pick a day and write down your thoughts – are they mostly positive, negative or somewhere in between? You may be surprised at how much kinder you can be. Or simply say “I love you” daily!
Question… Can you can give yourself permission to work on yourself before making any decisions in your marriage?
The next thing I knew it was 6 months later. Divorce papers were prepared, although not signed, I finally felt relief. He finally got it, I was done. Fast forward two weeks, I found myself looking in the mirror, freakin’ happy and thinking “I’m one of the coolest people I know!” Two days later, thinking about my marriage, I thought ‘this could work.’ What the hell?? I sat on that thought for a couple days or hours, I can’t remember.
I couldn’t believe how falling in love with myself – embracing me for who I was, as I was – changed everything in my world. Yet to look at me, nothing around me had changed. Can you recall a time in your life where you changed how you thought about something, yet nothing around you changed and your entire world looked different?
Whether my soon to be ex-husband was willing to give our marriage a try or not, I was ok. I was more than ok, I was great. I had me. Picking up the phone, I dialed his number. Once again, he was shocked but this time it was because I was calling him. “I know this may come as a surprise but I am willing to give our marriage a try. We must take it very very slow. If you have moved on, I completely understand. Take some time to think about it and let’s talk.” Dave loved ‘family’ and wanted to give it a go. We hired a women who asked lots of questions, coached and counseled us. We both made changes for ourselves, not each other. Honoring who we were and realizing not only did we dig ourselves, we dug each other. Once again, the journey began.
Dave and I reconciled after a 9 month separation. I never knew it could be so good!
I don’t know how your story will end but I guarantee, if you begin the journey to fall in love with yourself, everything else will fall into place. YOU will be the only person you need and others… they’re the icing on the cake. Eventually you will catch yourself saying “I never knew it could be so good!”