Patricia Redlich

Sunday, October 31, 2010

I'm Sorry I Left My Husband

21st February, 2010

I left a long-term marriage some years ago, believing I was doing the best thing possible. Now I wonder if I am one of those who 'walked away in hopelessness' as you put it recently, because I certainly felt hopeless at the time, and totally depleted.

Hindsight has taught me that I viewed my husband as my sole comforter. For a myriad of reasons I felt I could not turn to my family for the kind of loving support I needed, and the ear of a dear friend was denied me when she moved to the other end of the world. I am now divorced for nearly two years and in lots of ways I feel that I have moved on. But in lots of ways I am equally stuck in painful feelings of loss. Sometimes I miss him more, rather than less. I find I have to constantly reassure myself that I did indeed do the right thing.

What then, is the unique challenge for those of us who didn't stay, for whatever reason? Especially when the blow is self-inflicted, as in my case, since I was the one to initiate divorce proceedings. I can safely say that I am sadder and wiser. I don't want to be stuck in sadness forever though.

It's been a short time. Looking back is inevitable. So, also, is sadness and a great sense of loss. Leaving a long-term marriage is not something we'd choose as an option, when painting our ideal picture of how life should be. Some people do have to walk away. And then grief is inevitable. Hiding from that pain is the path to emotional self-destruction. The fact that you feel it is a huge plus. No, I know it's not nice. I'm just saying that it doesn't mean you made a mistake.

The challenge is a tricky one. On the one hand we need to learn the lessons of our fall from happiness, some of which are obviously the truths about ourselves. Maybe you were, as you suggest, emotionally too dependent. My suggestion, by the way, on that front is that we need to learn to console ourselves. It's not a question of family or friend or husband, although all of them can play a role. It's ultimately a question of being able to give yourself succour. Anyway, the point is that there are undoubtedly lots of bits you now see need changing. That's distressing, but necessary.

On the other hand, you should never doubt your decision. You made it. You clearly thought it necessary. Separating and divorcing is not some short hop and a skip. This wasn't a rash mistake, made in a moment of madness. There's no point in torturing yourself, or looking back with the benefit of hindsight, just because you're understandably sad, or wiser now about who and what you are. Of course you're paying a price for your decision to end the marriage. You would also have paid a price for staying. And clearly, you saw that price as far greater. Otherwise you'd never have taken such a huge step.

Don't ever do down the gut instinct which drove you. That would be unfair. More, it would be emotionally and intellectually dishonest. Do, however, hang in there, garnering the wisdom that comes with insight. And go out and enjoy yourself. Courage should be celebrated.
Irish based professional therapist and journalist. Website By : Deise Design