A new friend wondered aloud recently if I would have the desire and commitment to fight for the kind of love and intimacy I claim to seek, or would I let fear and doubt strangle the possibility. Because I respect his opinion, I gave his comment some serious consideration.
Every person leaves a marriage for their own, very personal reasons. I left because I was dying inside. My ex-husband was not a drinker or a gambler. He didn’t sleep around or lie or beat me. I did not hate him or think him an awful person. But there did not exist between us that magical connection that is as fragile as the finest, thinnest silk thread, and as strong as steel. Our love was not capable of surviving the challenges and punishments inflicted on it by circumstance and time, and no amount of wishing that it was could change that. That connection, that intimacy simply wasn’t there.
It took me many years to accept that this was the truth… to face it in my own heart and do what was best for both of us… to acknowledge that I could no longer pretend that what we had was enough…. to finally leave.
Divorce sucks. Plain and simple. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy, if I had one. I lived through my parents’ horrific divorce, and I still wasn’t prepared for how painful and wretched my own divorce was. There have been ample opportunities in the last couple of years to search my soul and re-examine my commitment to my decision, and plenty of dark moments of intense pain and grief that have seriously challenged that dedication. Lots of tears and lots of peaks and valleys. And time after time, I have sat across from a perfectly nice, attractive, interesting man and thought, “If I wanted this, I could have it. But is it enough?” And over, and over, and over again, I have answered no.
Deep down, in the very core of my soul, I know extraordinary love is possible. I have felt it and seen it and tasted it in my own life, lost myself in it and surrendered completely to the possibilities inherent in it. I have also witnessed it in my friends’ relationships, heard their stories, and seen their eyes sparkle with that magical connection that cannot be adequately explained, even after decades together.
Am I frightened of getting hurt again? You betcha. Does my flight reaction still kick in with an annoying regularity. Yep. But over the last few months, I have finally begun to really push back against these demons. I know that they could very well rob me of the prize that I seek with my full heart, and I absolutely, resolutely, with every ounce of my Irish stubbornness, refuse to grant them that victory. No, no, a thousand times no.
I know it won’t be easy to find the kind of love and connection that I want. And once it’s there in front of me, I’ll have to step up and dig in and commit myself fully to the adventure it presents. I know that I’ll stumble, that those old fears and reflexes will show up like the party-crashers that they are. Hopefully my partner in that great journey will have the patience to love me through it as I show the unwelcome guests the door. Hopefully he’ll understand that beating these demons is simply part of my journey and not a reflection of my commitment to my ultimate goal.
Perhaps I won’t find the kind of love that I seek. Maybe I’ll reach old age and simply be one of those remarkable old ladies with a bevy of amazing, loving friends and a life full of smaller miracles. But I hope not, and I intend to keep trying to be open, trying to be brave, for the rest of my life.
I met someone recently who, like a nudge from the universe, reminded me of the profound possibilities that exist in the realm of love. Against all traditional definitions of what is “rational” and “smart,” I have embarked on a wonderful adventure of mutual discovery with this man. I have no idea where it is going, and, yes, that scares me a little, but at the very least, I have discovered another kindred spirit who seeks the same thing I do. We are out there.
I have told only my two closest friends about this new man, and their reactions have told me volumes about my own commitment to the kind of love I seek, because they are both completely unsurprised that, once again, I have signed on for the adventure. Are they worried that I’ll be hurt? Of course they are; they love me. Are they supportive of me taking this risk? Of course they are; they love me. They understand that I will never be happy with less, and so they cheer me on as I press forward.
When I first announced that I was leaving my husband, my then-closest friend scolded me, saying, “Well, I sure hope it’s worth it!” I endured her scolds silently, knowing that I could never make her understand how I felt or why I was doing what I was doing. And what she could never appreciate — not in a whole lifetime — is that it is already worth it. I am no longer dying. In the last two years I have learned how to live again. Yes, I crawl into bed alone most nights, and yes, I am poorer than I once was, and yes, my future is wide open and uncertain. But there is possibility. There is a chance. There is hope. And there is me, standing in the middle of all of that.
So, yes, it was worth it. A thousand times, yes.