One of the most asked questions in relationships is also one that seems impossible to answer.
There are a few instances where, to me, the answer is clear. Go if there’s abuse, especially if it’s the kind where you feel your life is in danger. Go if you know without a shadow of a doubt that that’s what you want and need to do.
But what if neither of those hold true? What if you’re married to a good husband or wife (in my case, husband) who fulfills their duties and for the most part, someone you can live a good life and have a decent marriage with? What if you’re in a long-term relationship that feels safe, comfortable, stable, warm and is based on friendship, yet there’s still that inexplicable nagging feeling that just won’t go away?
How do you know when it’s time to go? Can someone just tell me what to do? Well, no.
I’ve been married to a good man for 11 years, together for 16. He was my first boyfriend and my first everything. We did break up three years into our relationship and I dated someone during that time. But in the end, we got back together. I’ve spent countless hours reflecting on what went wrong, asking myself honestly: how did we get to this point? How did I get to this point? Meditation, crying, writing, talking to my sister and friends who had known me before I even met my husband and who had seen how I had changed over the years, travelling and going on yoga retreats, going to therapy for the first time in my life, reading all the self-help books I could lay my hands on, you name it I’ve done it.
I can’t tell you which one of the above helped most, but something did. I’ve managed to come to my understanding of what went wrong. First, it was an intellectual connection more than anything else. We had, and still have, an amazing meeting of the minds, we can talk for hours on end. We are both equally curious and interested in the world. We both have intellectual jobs. We have a good friendship.
But that’s the problem. From the very start, it never felt like a complete connection for me. It worked all these years because it had all the basics of a good relationship and it was a rational choice to be with him. There’s nothing wrong with that per se. But, there’s something about it that didn’t sit well with me, which means, there’s something wrong. Period. That alone was enough to rock my world and feel like the rug was pulled out from under me. I was standing in quicksand and quickly sinking.
Mind you, I only realised we had an intellectual relationship in hindsight, because back then, I wouldn’t have known the difference between the kind of earth-shattering, mind-blowing, life-changing connection and the one we had, which for the most part, felt right.
Over the years, I have been explicit when things were not good. I’ve tried to communicate what I felt was lacking and tried to have that conversation with him about the health of our relationship. While we are skilled at and very able to “talk”, I don’t think we really communicated in the way that we needed to honestly address what it was that needed to be addressed. Communication, this deserves a whole new post altogether. So while it was ‘good’ for the most part, the cracks got bigger over the years.
I have been in this limbo for more than two years. It was two of the most difficult years of my life. I constantly felt like my head was hurting and literally about to explode from too much pressure. My heart was aching all the time and I found myself bawling on my kitchen floor more times that I care to remember begging the universe, god, whoever was out there, to please please tell me what to do. Yes, I have had many an Eat, Pray, Love moment.
I do not wish this limbo on anyone. It’s fucking hard. Most days I feel like I can barely function, but I still have to look like I have it all together. It’s fucking exhausting. So if you’re in limbo right now, I’m sending you lots of love, positivity and warm hugs. This is no joke. Add a pandemic on top of all this and it just feels like I’m being spun around by a powerful centrifugal force that’s keeping me in this unstoppable merry-go-round of emotional torture and insanity.
My rational self kept asking: what is wrong with me? Am I creating a problem that doesn’t exist? Am I creating drama in a largely stable and good life? We had just bought our first flat, we were ready to renovate, we both had good jobs. Finally, after moving from one country to the next, we’re laying down roots together. Yet there I was, contemplating walking away from my marriage and a good man. Trust me, I’ve thought of all those things and have tried to convince myself to seriously consider staying. That voice in my head, that feeling in my gut, both have been in deep turmoil for the past two years.
If you’re going through this, you are not alone. You are not crazy for feeling like a life that might be perfect on paper isn’t for you. You do not have to feel guilty for all the single people out there who wish they had what you had, or the really awful marriages out there. You do not have to stay out of guilt. I have always been grateful for everything I have. There’s not a single day that goes by where I didn’t thank the heavens and my lucky stars for my beautiful life. But that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to feel what I’m feeling, what I’ve been feeling for some years now.
Feel your feelings. I had to learn to sit with my feelings and honestly identify what’s happening deep inside. I felt dissatisfied. I felt I was in the wrong place, with the wrong person. I knew I revelling in the comfort and security of the relationship. But I also knew I wanted and deserved more. So does my husband. You are allowed to feel whatever it is you feel. Please don’t sweep those feelings under the rug. I’ve learned that that was a disservice to myself and therefore a disservice to my husband.
So, should I stay or should I go? Where are my thoughts and feelings at right now? Well, I know I have to go. I know I want to go. There was one powerful exercise I had to do where I had to imagine what I’d like my life to look like in 30 or 40 years, at my retirement party. Who are the people around me? What does my life look like? What does the life of my happy self look like? And that’s when I realised he isn’t in that picture as my husband. I would hope he can always be a part of my life as my friend, but I don’t have control over that. He said if we go ahead with the divorce (always emphasising that it’s only me who wants it, not him), he never wants to see me again.
I’ve reached out to a lawyer. I’ve been trying to sort out my finances. I’ve been looking for jobs in other countries. We’ve started talking about selling the flat. I’ve confided in all my close friends, and slowly now talking openly about my situation with other friends. The idea of divorce is no longer just an idea. It isn’t completely real yet either, but it’s taking shape. It’s scary as hell. But if I cut through the nervousness and go deeper, I’ve come face to face with that feeling of peace. I know I will be okay no matter what happens. What’s most important to me now is to listen to that voice, listen to my gut, trust my intuition and live with my heart, not just my head.
I still sometimes think back to the lowest of the low in the past two years. How did a successful, independent, strong woman find herself bawling from the depths of her soul on her cold kitchen floor, hitting rock bottom? I don’t really know. I took photos of myself to remind myself that that was a position I never want to find myself in again. At least not voluntarily. Because I have a choice in the matter. I can choose not to hit rock bottom. I ALWAYS HAVE A CHOICE. And so do you.
***What happens next? My guess is as good as yours. Til next time.