Monday, September 19, 2005

I Can Breathe

I was going through some of my old emails the other day and found this one.  I had been ‘chatting’ via email with a friend of mine in Baltimore.  We were talking about the dynamics of a relationship and is it enough to love someone.  Is love enough to maintain a relationship?  I wrote the following response:

Love isn’t enough, at least not alone.  Love is fickle; it is far from all encompassing, love alone will not maintain a relationship, at least not a healthy one.  We have agreed that romantic love burns bright and it burns fast, and that it wanes over time, and changes.  For the relationship to last you must include trust, respect, honesty, compromise, communication, time, space, forgiveness, all of which stand alone.  You can have all of those aspects with someone you don’t love.  Real, honest lasting love includes those things.  You can not honestly love, truly love, deeply love someone without those things.  So, love is not enough, you must have the other pieces to make the puzzle complete.

I gave my marriage 5 years; I gave him 10 years of my life (including the better part of the year since our divorce).  I couldn’t love enough for both of us.  There was no trust, no respect, no honesty, no communication, no time, no space, and no forgiveness.  Without all of those, I sometimes wonder if there was even real love.  If one of the partners is unhappy, isn’t it sadder to stay in the relationship out of a fear of being labeled ‘failure’, than it is to own up to the fact that it’s just not working anymore, and stop the pain before it goes too far?  At what point does staying stop being a good idea and start being just stupid, or even toxic?  At what point does staying start being the wrong thing to do?  I stayed longer than I should have because I didn’t want to fail, but I realized that in staying I was actually failing my children, my husband, my future, and myself.

I walked away from my marriage on the day the judge declared it final.  The sun stayed in the sky that day, the grass was still green, the sky still blue, night followed day, the sun did not set in the East.  Time did not stop, life did not stop.  For everyone else in the world it was just another ordinary day.  For me though, I was finally free to just be.  I felt as if the chains that had bound me had finally been lifted and I could just be.  I walked out of that courtroom, took a deep breath and swore the air was sweeter, because I was finally my own person.  I had given so much of myself to our marriage; I had lost myself to him, to the relationship.  I had lost sight and touch with myself, my true self.  I had finally gotten me back.  From the outside looking in, I looked no different that I had 15 minutes before, but from the inside looking out, everything was brighter, sweeter.  But almost bittersweet, because I had left 9 years of my life behind.  The judge took 15 minutes to end 9 years of my life.  I was no longer the woman who was married to him.  I could look back at her, see her, embrace her, love her and tell her I understood she did all she could, she did the best she could, but she could not do it alone.  It was not all her fault and I still loved her for trying as hard as she did.  

A year later, I find myself in the same boat.  I found myself in a relationship with him again, and I realized nothing had changed.  We were in the same rut we had been in all our life together.  I had to walk away yet again, and I did.  I’m not looking back over my shoulder, I’m looking clearly into the future.  There is more hope, more promise, more joy, love and laughter in the future than there was in my past.  I reach forward now and embrace the possibilities my future can hold.  

The sun still rises in the east, sets in the west.  The sky is still blue, the grass is still green, time still marches on, nothing has profoundly changed in the world around me.  But I have profoundly changed.  I am free to just be, to laugh, to love, to giggle with my kids, to breathe, to just be.  What a wonderful feeling.

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