It still feels strange that we’re not married. The patterns of our everyday movements still feel worn into the floorboards; sometimes I expect you to walk in the front door. In the folds of my memory, I can feel the butterflies of those first months together. We met in another country, made plans to travel; live outside the box, us against the world.
Ultimately, it turned out that we tried to mold ourselves into a cookie cutter. We had two beautiful children and got down to the business of being adults. Or so I thought. You got down to “other business”.
And while I would never ever want to go through the moment of you telling me and the lightning bolt realization of how deeply flawed our relationship was, I want to thank you.
You released me from a life I thought I had to live.
I had a very clear image of what I thought I should do and therefore, I needed to resign myself to a marriage I wasn’t super excited about but was mostly ok with. We took vows. We had babies. I went along with the plot. I was willing to suck it up and just be kind of happy. I have a whole new baseline for what I am willing to accept and it made it that much easier to open myself up to a new relationship.
You showed me that I am stronger than I ever thought possible.
We talked about separation several times before the final blow and all of those times, I quietly talked myself out of it because I just didn’t think I could do it alone; the kids, the house, the logistics, and telling all the people. Turns out, I am ridiculously resilient and you pushed me to a place where I really had no choice, and you showed me that. I’ve always exuded calm and confident, but now I know that my inner self is much closer to matching my outer self.
You made me a truth teller.
I had carefully constructed the version of our story that I told people; about our daily life and our hoped-for future. I perpetuated it with diligent fervor on social media outlets, with beautifully filtered photos and by writing pieces of “truth” with some poignant omissions. Ironically, when you told me your truth it actually set free. I now seek out opportunities to share this passion with my community through writing and speaking engagements. You gave me a mission; people from all over are saying “me too.” Our true story is the one that needed to be told; people relate to us, we are not alone.
You forced me to evaluate my core beliefs.
I thought that I held the importance of marriage and an intact family above all else. I just couldn’t envision walking away from that no matter what, in fact, that was the line I remember saying to you over and over when we took vows, but your actions showed me that actually I value my own self-worth and the relationship that we set for our children above all. That’s a really important distinction.
As you know, I am not typically a silver-linings type of girl; I don’t believe in trite “it was meant to be” type advice when people are grieving the loss of a relationship. But I do think that you presented me with two clear paths forward; and the one I chose led me on a journey of self-discovery that I would not have been as open to otherwise. And while in so many ways we are still learning how to do this, I can say thank you, and mean it.