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It’s true. I left my marriage for someone else.
I had to. The environment in which I lived for too long made me lose myself. So yes, I left for someone else.
That someone was me.
When a woman finally decides that she deserves more compassion, more kindness, and more peace, she is left with no other choice but to choose herself—because for me, it seemed the only other choice was to jump from a moving car.
That is why after realizing my life and my happiness were more important than his, I finally decided to choose me.
And in the process of choosing myself, I also chose to pursue another love. It has been difficult to admit that someone else influenced my decision to leave my marriage—which is probably why it has taken so long for me to write about it.
For years, I told myself that she had nothing to do with it. The truth is that she definitely had something to do with it. No, she didn’t force me to leave. She didn’t even ask me to leave. As a matter of fact, she begged me to stay married. But realizing I had feelings for her opened my eyes to new possibilities. It was too late.
And I know how terrible it must sound.
It sounds like I’m a coward and a fake. Why didn’t I have the courage to get divorced without a new relationship waiting for me? All of that bravery? Sounds like a bunch of bullsh*t, doesn’t it? But here’s the thing about leaving a marriage: there’s no textbook on how to do it the “right way.” That’s not how it works.
It starts with questions like, “Why aren’t I more happy despite having a healthy family and beautiful things all around me? Why do I feel like a worthless piece of sh*t for not knowing which exit to take off the highway? Why do I regularly think about packing my stuff and running far away?”
A Foiled Plan
Before you know it, questions turn into planning and hoping for a change, even the kind of change that’s too f*cked up to admit—anything to open the cage door. Then comes the numbness and depression, but only after you spend loads of energy and loads of years trying to create change.
So if you think I didn’t want to leave my marriage years before I actually did, you’re wrong. It wasn’t that I met someone else and suddenly decided I was ready to get divorced. It was quite the opposite. I had been ready to leave for years. And I could have kept my head down for many more, but instead, she raised my awareness—and my chin
My old plan to wait until the youngest kid had graduated from high school was foiled by a sudden change in perspective. The universe slapped me across the face and asked me what I was waiting for. The stars aligned, and I was given the chance to be happy now: I could support myself and my kids; I could sleep at night knowing they were old enough to make a pot of macaroni for themselves; I was no longer tied to artificial expectations. The fact that I had a hand to hold along the way just makes me really lucky.
But I was prepared to go for it alone. And I did for a (very) short time. I also knew that my new love and I would face an uphill battle—our chances of success as a couple were slim to none. She was the friend of my ex, and it was my first same-sex relationship, for starters. We also carried loads of guilt for causing everyone so much pain. But we entered our relationship together, with our eyes wide open—literally wide open—as we tried to navigate a new relationship in a town with one degree of separation, trying to dodge the haters and the stalkers.
Long ago, when my ex and I were engaged to be married, we received some advice from our deacon. “The only way a marriage survives is with commitment,” he said. The same thing was modeled to me growing up—like a blind commitment to the marriage, above all else.
But what about the commitment to ourselves?
Nearly 25 years later, this is what I have come to believe: the only commitment I have is to myself and my kids. I believe it should be this way in all relationships. I’m not saying that our partners are not important, but the relationship with our partner should not diminish our own importance. It should not take away from our worth or make us lose ourselves. In turn, we should also want our partner to be equally committed to themselves.
A high level of commitment to oneself is what creates equal responsibility in the relationship—a responsibility to bring our best selves to our partner, to show up with self-respect and integrity, to be able to give love without reservation, and to set aside our insecurities. Being committed to oneself removes the expectation that our partner is responsible for our happiness and vice versa. When you become happy, independent of your partner, you make the relationship stronger.
Two people who are committed to themselves first will come together as a synchronistic and enhanced addition to one another. Relationship experts always say that you have to love yourself completely in order to love someone else—that’s all I’m saying. And this: no one should stay in a relationship that is not right for them simply for the sake of commitment or sacrament; no one should stay in an unhappy marriage to avoid hurting someone else; no one should sacrifice their own happiness simply to keep the peace.
Choosing ourselves is not easy. Some people won’t understand—you know them, the rule followers and the safe players. And then there are the kids, the friends, and the family who will likely be disappointed when you choose yourself instead of choosing to keep the peace. This is the challenge—choosing you, when everyone is begging you to choose someone else.
It goes without saying, but I will say it anyway. There are consequences to any decision we make—especially the big ones, like leaving a marriage.
And consequences are complicated. That’s when we must revisit our decision-making guide in order to ensure proper consideration and deliberation when making the hard choices. Putting one’s own needs ahead of others can come with complications for the peacekeepers and people pleasers because sometimes hurting another person may bring us more pain than the opposing joy we would find by being free of that relationship. This makes the decision even more arduous.
But even arduous decisions are possible when you focus on your intentions, separate advice from noise and truth from excuses. Understand that some consequences, although incredibly painful, are a temporary necessity to the ultimate goal of peace and joy.
Yeah, yeah, I know; I can make all the excuses in the book for why I left my marriage. In the end, none of it matters because I still have to live with my decision. And justifying it isn’t as important to me as it used to be. I share my story now to help others find their power to make the decision without being influenced by the rules that limit our happiness.
If we put rules and boundaries on how love comes into our lives, we limit the possibilities of love—and we limit our happiness.
To say my love story is unconventional is an understatement. And for most of you, imagining such a thing happening in your own life is nearly impossible. I get it. It’s been pretty crazy for me too. Think of it this way: if you could never, ever imagine leaving your marriage for another person, consider yourself luckier than I was.
Love found me at precisely the moment when I was ready to make the inevitable decision to leave my marriage. I chose me when I was presented with the choice, and it led to my everlasting love story. Today, I stand side by side with my new love—against all odds, we made it.
And the rest, my friends, is what they call “history.”
Love finds us in different ways—so instead of judging someone for the love that has found them, rejoice that love has found them at all.