I left my wusband (that’s husband, past tense) nine years ago.
I didn’t leave him because he is an alcoholic and didn’t want to stop drinking.
I didn’t leave him because he lied, a lot (addicts do that).
I didn’t leave him because he was secretly talking to an old girlfriend for a time,
or because he didn’t come home when he said he would,
or because he didn’t come to family functions with me,
or because he generally didn’t seem super interested in our marriage.
I left him to give myself the chance to have something that I wanted. I wanted to be in an intimate relationship.
I heard at an Al-Anon meeting, “You can’t have an intimate relationship with someone who is having an intimate relationship with alcohol.”
Wow. True. It was kind of like his girlfriend. And yet, I wanted my intimate relationship to be with him. He is a great guy. He was my friend of 18 years. He’s hilarious and smart. You would love him.
But my desire for an intimate, close, open, honest partnership got stronger and clearer. I accepted my reality as it was, and appreciated what I did have on a daily basis, until one day that desire that I had and the reality that I saw were so far apart that something snapped.
I freed myself. There was no blame. There were feelings that moved through me for months. I allowed them. They included anger and fear, but no blame and no shame. There was no forgiveness. There was no need for it.
Relationships are meant to bring us to higher levels of love.
They are to bring to the surface that which we can heal to become more whole. The beloved other may be a mirror, a trigger, a witness, a support for our work. The object of our love and affection helps us to realize how much of that we have inside as we give it—that we are actually of love. He or she is not here to give us love, to make us happy or to tip-toe around our issues and make everything okay.
I think it’s helpful to get clear on this before we decide to leave, especially a long-standing partnership. We may be throwing away valuable opportunities for growth. We may just attract it again—the same person or scenario in a different disguise—if we don’t look at what it is showing us about ourselves.
If we’re blaming the other, our work may not be done there.
If we feel bad about ourselves or are self-blaming, we have work to do as well. That can be done alone after the relationship is over—as long as we don’t get into another one right away because if we do, that person will likely reflect back self-loathing.
If we can leave with love, for all involved, we may be ready.
Are you thinking you’re ready to leave your relationship?
Here are four good reasons to go, reasons that will leave you more free, that are caring for yourself and will foster your growth:
1. You’re being abused verbally, mentally, emotionally, sexually, physically or any other way I may be overlooking.
2. You want different lifestyles (i.e., children or no children, monogamy or swinging). To be separate would free each of you to go in those directions.
3. You realize that you were trying to rescue your lover and now you’re tired and need to rest someplace safe and alone, and heal that need to be a hero for anyone but yourself.
4. You have completed the lessons, done all the work, looked at yourself and are being called to something different now.
Here are four not-so-good reasons. These are based on fear, myth or misunderstanding and are likely to land you in the same situation with a different partner:
1. He or she is not “meeting your needs.” That’s not their job. It’s yours.
2. You love him/her but you are not in love anymore. The “in-love” phase is a chemical reaction in the body. Love is a decision and an action.
3. You met someone else, who you think is your “soulmate.” Don’t get me started. It will suffice to say here that I believe at the level of the soul we are all “mates.”
4. He or she has changed. Well, I hope so! We all change and evolve. Our expectations that someone stay any certain way can be examined. The exception here would be if you are then being abused—see #1 good reason.
Oh, and for closure, the wusband got sober. That was right after I met New Husband. He is honest to a fault, present, big-hearted and open-minded. You would love him too.
Author: Reverend Lisa Sarick
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Yagmur Adam/Flickr