I used to be married to someone else.
It’s not something many people know about me. Not because I hide it, just because it was a long time ago and my life today is completely different to what it was like when I was married to someone else.
We were together for nearly nine years, two of them as a married couple, and I think that for at least four years out of the nine, I knew the relationship was “wrong” for me.
It doesn’t really matter why it was wrong. It just was. Like many other “wrong” relationships are, and whoever’s been in one of those will know exactly what I mean.
The point is that despite this knowledge, (which I did not share with anyone at the time, because who wants to hear the words “then why are you with him?”, “that’s really stupid of you”, “just leave him, what’s the big deal?” when you are not ready for that), I stayed.
Many things made me stay.
I loved him.
I was used to him.
He loved me.
I thought I could “fix it”.
I thought our love would be enough.
I didn’t want to give up.
But looking back, I know that what really kept me from packing my bags – was fear. Fear of ending up alone. Fear of not finding love again. Fear of making a mistake. Fear of the unknown.
I lived with that fear for a long time, until one day I decided to take a leap of faith.
I decided to leave.
Not because I was sure it was the right thing to do. Not because I wasn’t afraid anymore. Not because anything special had happened. Just because I felt I could finally walk down that unknown road and because I had hope that I will come out on the other side and have a better life for myself.
Now, I won’t lie to you. Leaving him was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. I felt like the biggest failure that ever walked the face of this earth. I felt like I had let my family and friends down. I felt alone and isolated and I was scared of having to start all over. I was petrified I would never find love again and I was battling back and forth with whether or not I was making a huge mistake.
It’s been just over ten years since the day we got our divorce. Just over the same amount of time we had together.
In that time, since that day we signed those papers and I couldn’t even look him in the eye, so many things have happened. Many tears were shed, many regrets and soul searching, chaos at times and so much despair and then eventually, when the time was right, there came some hope, and light, and strength, and laughter, and in the end came love.
I also learnt that I am strong. That I can do anything I want, even walk away from something I had invested so much into. I learnt to listen to my gut and not to what other people say. But most importantly, I learnt that I deserve to be happy.
Nine years ago I met the man I am married to now, my husband and my best friend. We met when I was smiling again, and when my heart was open for love and I could see him.
I know for a fact that had I not been in that previous relationship and had it not played out the way it did, I would have never met my husband, or had my children or be the person that I am today.
I know I made the right choice.
Now I want to be clear on one thing: I am not advocating divorce. I did not leave my marriage without a fight. I did everything in my power to make it work and I stayed for far longer than I should have because I took my commitment seriously and did not want to just throw it all away.
Having said that, I know now that sometimes the right thing IS to give up and let go. Breaking up is so hard, even when you know the relationship is “wrong”. Giving up ‘the dream’ of that relationship you had imagined having is devastating, but also necessary is some cases.
Looking back, I wish I had realized that being happy is more important than anything else. I deserved to be happy. It was so simple.
I know that for many people ‘leaving’ is not an option. I know that many are ‘trapped’ in wrong relationships for whatever reason. My heart is with you because I know the pain you are feeling. You deserve to be happy, just like anyone else does. You are stronger than you think and you are not alone.
This post originally appeared on Tova’s Blog. It has been reprinted with permission.