It was like old times.
We sat around my mother’s dining room table almost two years ago and celebrated Passover. Together. As a family. We ate, we laughed, we pretended. It would be for the last time.
He told me it was over. The relationship he was having with another woman, the affair I discovered three months earlier. He informed me of their breakup with sadness in his eyes. Was he expecting me to console him, I wonder?
I did not.
During his last visit home, during the week of Passover, we decided to give our marriage another chance. How wholehearted his effort was, I remain skeptical to this day. Conditions were stipulated. He would remain faithful. I would move to the other side of the world and give our new life a go.
Together, but never equal.
What I witnessed before me was a mirage, and nothing more. An illusion. My life had become a lie. We casually wrapped our arms around each other at the table, joking, partaking in the Seder as we had done each year for nearly a quarter of a century. My family looked on in silent wonder as they tried to understand how I could live with a man who had demeaned me. It was on that night I realized I no longer could.
I knew the end was near. And within days it was. I could no longer forsake my life for all those around me, not even for my children. I was dying, slowly, a slave to everyone else’s needs, except my own.
Some may call me selfish. I do not agree. Selfishness would have been to stay, to continue offering my family the shell of a person I had become. Or the whole person I never grew to be.
I left my marriage that week. It was an exodus from the bondage of servitude to a man who had not cared for me in years, or perhaps never did at all. I choose to believe for a time he did love me. My nights pass easier that way. Leaving the security of a marriage, even a bad one, was risky. I chose to break free anyway.
The past two years have been painstakingly difficult. Lonely. Grief-ridden. Mentally and physically exhausting.
But I would not change a thing. In truth, not much about my day-to-day life has actually changed. Except now single, I have hope.
For the better part of 16 years I chained myself to a dream. I laboriously built a home for my family, seemingly brick by brick. But it was never truly mine to behold because I did not yet belong to myself. Today I wander in a desert of uncertainty. Yet I walk with purpose. Direction. Though my environment is often hostile and barren, I look to the horizon. I know what I want, and I am getting closer.
The Promised Land is near.
Have you let your ex go?