“Did I do the right thing?” is probably a question that many newly separated men and women ask themselves. Even though in your heart you knew separating was the best thing, time starts to bring loneliness, emptiness and fear into the mix and it’s easy to second guess yourself, wonder if your decision was the right one, and even get cold feet about going through with the divorce.
“Maybe it could work if we both…Maybe we could try counseling again and make it work this time….Maybe if I changed…Maybe if he changed…Maybe he’d be different if I went back…I don’t want to be alone!…I can’t handle life on my own, it’s just too scary…” These are just some of the thoughts that might go through someone’s head, trying to justify giving the marriage another chance. Many couples go back and forth one or twice or several times before either reconciling or more commonly, getting divorced.
Readers often e-mail me asking “Should I leave?” I never tell people what to do. I don’t encourage separation and divorce, in fact I am a huge fan of marriage—if you are with the right person and you are happy. That said, I don’t discourage separating either. It’s such a personal choice and one that no one can but you can make.
But when I received this comment from a newly separated reader, I found myself inspired because it’s obvious she is really scared, but that she is facing her fear head on and has confidence and conviction that she did the right thing.
I spilt up with my long-term partner of 13 years. I have tried to leave before but always got scared about how I would cope on my own. I can’t remember the last I enjoyed sex or didn’t feel enraged by his ways. I lost all attraction for him a long time ago . I don’t love him but do care. We have children and it’s hard on them but I cant live in this hole any more. I wish I would have done this years ago. If anyone is reading this and feels alone, scared and worried, just know you’re not alone. There are loads of men and women with the same fears taking this brave step every day. I remind myself that when I want to go back, it isn’t out of love, it’s out of fear . Both he and I deserve more than that. I have explained this to him but it falls on deaf ears. This time no matter how scared I get and how alone I feel, I’m seeing it through. It is in the darkest days we grow. I’m in a dark place right now, but I know for certain that in a year or so my life will be on its way to being settled. I pray for strength every day, to not lose faith that I’m doing the right thing. I want me. Maybe one day I will meet someone but really and honestly that’s not a priority. Getting my life stable, healing and my children are. Be strong. You left for a reason. See it through. He is not the one because you questioned it. Remember that.
My favorite quotes from this:
I remind myself that when I want to go back, it isn’t out of love, it’s out of fear.
You will know the difference. When I was going through my divorce 9 years ago, a friend of mine said, “Are you scared?” I replied, “Of course.” He said, “But isn’t fear of the unknown better than going back to what you know?” I never forgot that.
It is in the darkest days we grow.
What’s so hard about dark days is that you don’t realize how much you are going to benefit from the experience later. “A beaten dog is a wiser dog,” says my 89 year-old dad. Remember that this will make you not only wiser, but also stronger, smarter, more grounded, more interesting and more self-assured.
Maybe one day I will meet someone but really and honestly that’s not a priority.
Great attitude! That’s why I know she will meet someone. Her head is in the right place.
Again, I never want my readers to think I support leaving. What do I support? I support happiness and well-being of both partners (and their kids, of course). Whatever that means to you is what truly matters. I also support making the decision to separate or stay being based on what you really really see–beyond practicality or fear. Do you see the possibility of change? If you don’t, then you know what your options are: stay with the same or leave. The question is, are you brave enough to pick the one that will lead to the most happiness and best well-being? Only you know the answer.
Jackie Pilossoph is the creator of her website, Divorced Girl Smiling. The author of her novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase, Pilossoph also writes the weekly dating and relationship column, Love Essentially, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press. Pilossoph lives with her family in Chicago. Oh, and she’s divorced.