Making the decision to leave my marriage was the most difficult decision of my life. A bombardment went on for some time, with the thought process something of whether I should stay for the sake of my children, or leave for the sake of myself. I also contemplated staying for the sake of religion. And then there was staying for the sake of the things I had accumulated—the house, the cars, the whole illusion. I mean from the outside looking in, I had a wonderful life: huge house on a two-acre lot in the country, four kids in private school, and an assortment of sports cars and SUV’s. My house was surrounded by beautiful gardens and an elaborate koi pond, complete with a waterfall and a wooden bridge that led to a gazebo. All I was missing was that white picket fence; and I’m sure if the neighborhood association allowed it, we would have had one.
All those things…all those wonderful things. I think the first comment my father had about my leaving was something in the manner of “what about the house?”
Amazing how people just see the ‘things.’ What they couldn’t see was the pain. I think back on how I always felt something amiss in every house I owned. They never took on that ‘homey’ feel. Now I understand what was missing. Love was missing. Love between a husband and wife did not radiate in those houses; and that love, when it exists, makes a house beautiful in ways you can’t imagine. I’ve seen it, and felt it in other homes. Love has a way of filling the empty space; it has a way of creating its own light and giving warmth. It’s invisible, but tangible. And it can make people absolutely delirious!
This sadness that women harbor, it’s amazing how we hide it so well. We are absolute experts, especially when our kids are concerned. We should all receive an Emmy for putting on that happy face and actually convincing ourselves to believe it.
But reality is interesting. It has a way of creeping up on you…day by day, inch by inch, until it literally suffocates you into action.
So, I labored in the midst of the ‘for sake of’s.’ Everyone had an opinion, a philosophy, and after a while my head felt on the verge of exploding. It was a time of mental anguish; and honestly, I am amazed at how I got through. I hear my friend, Larry, saying ‘one day at a time, one day at a time.’
Yeah…a day at a time.
A lot of people would say that what I did was completely selfish, and to a degree I agree with them. After nineteen years of being unsatisfied, frustrated, and feeling more like a commodity than a wife, I did the unthinkable…I left. Dear god, I left for me. I left because I was tired of living without a circle of friends, without experiencing life, without laughter and free space. I left because I was tired of crying inside and carrying the burden of manifesting the façade of contentment; I was tired of wanting things that didn’t materialize. I was just…tired of lying to myself and everybody else.
And in regard to the children and this worry that we should ‘stay together for the children.’ Well, I think that’s a lot of crap. Children notice. They see and understand far more than any of us realize. I grew up in the household of a rocky marriage. My parents stayed together for the benefit of the children. My mother told me that. And this benefit of staying together, this so-called “for sake of the children”, well, I’m still looking for it. Staying together did not serve me or my brothers. Would it not be better to get divorced and have the children see you happy? Maybe you struggle for a while, but that will pass. Everything passes. Should you meet a wonderful person, fall in love, and get married again, wouldn’t it be a gift for your children to see how a healthy relationship works? Perhaps you don’t meet that person and just fall in love with yourself, having the courage to be authentic and follow your heart—what a gift to your children. Isn’t that worth more than staying in a situation that makes you miserable?
I can no longer justify it. Not after these eleven months. I want my children to know what love looks, sounds, and smells like. I didn’t want to stay together for the sake of staying together. I could not remain in a marriage because of the things or the status, or the church, or even the children. I realized I wanted happiness and fulfillment more than anything else; and I wanted to share that joy with my children. I had to save them as much as I had to save myself.
We are meant to thrive, and if you are not happy and you want to move onward—and maybe you’ve reached that tether and have no interest in ‘working it out’—it’s okay. I truly believe that you are not ‘damned because you fall out of love, or because you married the wrong person, or because you have grown apart. I think you’re damned if you stay in a situation which gnaws at your happiness.