I can’t tell you exactly the moment that I realized I could no longer live a lie.
We were the illusion of the perfect family: handsome husband, happy wife, four beautiful children.
I was the master of making everything look flawless and easy and hiding the one area that made me secretly miserable. The marriage that I thought I could repair, turn around, shake up and make it work was so broken and empty.
I was beginning to admit that it couldn’t be fixed.
It was the hardest truth I’ve ever had to face. I mean, I had four kids to consider, so this wasn’t only about me. The thought leaving was buried in a huge pile of fear. The fear of hurting him, the fear of how this would affect my kids, the fear of failure in my parent’s eyes, the fear of upsetting my in-laws, the fear of telling anyone. So there it sat at the bottom of the fear pile, so small in comparison to the force that was keeping it at bay.
But actually not so small at all—rather huge in the context of standing in my truth and living an authentic life.
I’m not sure exactly what changed—perhaps a conversation with a beautiful friend about the importance of honoring your spirit, but I suddenly knew that I could not spend one more year living this way. It was time to be honest and I made a conscious decision to step through the fear and surrender to all the details that were completely unknown.
I had no idea how anything would unfold or what the future would look like. I had no plan, but the pull to be authentic was too strong to ignore. What I did know is that I did not want to wake up when I was 60 with regret. I did not want to spend the rest of my life feeling this way. I did not want to explain to my children when they were young adults that I had raised them to pursue happiness and follow their hearts while I sacrificed my own happiness out of fear of letting other people down.
When I finally found myself pouring my truth out to him, sobbing apologetically, but speaking from my heart, I was shocked by the peace and stillness within. I would later learn from an intuitive healer that even in the most chaotic situations you can feel centered and calm if you are operating from a place of truth.
It’s when you’re operating from ego that your emotions can take you to an irrational place.
Suddenly I had the most clarity than ever before. The cloud of fear had lifted. I knew what I had to do. I could not spend the rest of my life being irritated and judgmental towards him just because I was unfulfilled. He deserved to be with someone who loved and adored him and that was something I could not give him.
He deserved to be happy, and so did I.
It became clear that I was going to be giving my children a much greater gift by following my truth and chasing happiness. I wanted them to see a relationship that is full of love and true connection, not a situation where two people are trapped in a union full of irritation and resentment.
I do not feel like leaving my marriage is equivalent to failure, and I know that this sense of failure plagues many people which makes me super cynical about marriage and the expectations that society put around it. I spent 17 years with this man and we have a ton of amazing memories together and four incredible children. I see that as a huge success!
The bigger failure would be staying in this marriage forever knowing how I felt. I could not think of a bigger way to fail myself.
I can completely see why people stay. Marriages, particularly with children are so hard to untangle. Like most mothers, I was use to putting everyone else’s needs first and making sure that their worlds were ticking along blissfully. So the thought of leaving my marriage simply because I was not happy felt selfish. But I’ve come to realize that taking care of me, nurturing my spirit and putting my joy and fulfillment first is the best way I can serve those around me.
The expectation that two people are meant to come together and stay together forever is sometimes a tough cookie to swallow. I’m not entirely sure it’s soul serving but what I wish we could all do is be emotionally evolved enough to acknowledge when a relationship is no longer bringing out the best in us and have the ability to set each other free with grace and respect.
Instead what happens is the lack of acknowledgement and the fear that prevents anyone from making any changes slowly eats away bit by bit at your partnership. We start to subconsciously sabotage the relationship because the alternative of being honest and facing the truth is way too hard. We begin criticizing, judging, bitching, disconnecting, distancing and, the ultimate sabotage—we have affairs.
I’m not at all suggesting that we don’t work hard at trying to make our relationships work. I acknowledge that all marriages go through their ups and downs and often counseling and hard work can put things back on track. What I’m referring to in this context is the case where you know deep down that things cannot be fixed.
Divorce is difficult, but is all the hatred and nastiness really necessary?
I get it—there are egos, pride and pain—a lethal combination. But what if we could shift that to truth, humility and vulnerability? What if we accepted the truth and honored our partner’s? If we found humility in that truth and allowed ourselves to be vulnerable in our pain? Imagine the growth that would come from respecting each other’s spirits regardless of the hurt we may feel.
Let’s honor the years spent together and hold them as sacred memories full of gratitude.
If you’ve cared enough for someone to marry them and have children with them, don’t you sincerely want the best for them—for them to lead the happiest life possible?
Even in the moments of complete frustration I know that the best gift I can give my children is to want the very best for their Dad.
It’s not easy and requires hard work everyday but all we can do is set the intention to speak from the heart and conduct ourselves with Grace in a way that we are proud of.
Author: Julie Feuerheerdt
Editor: Renée P.
Photo: Author’s Own