I once helped a lady who had gone through a divorce after 25 years of marriage. The marriage was not an arranged marriage but one that stemmed from a communion of the hearts and a common lifestyle. Both partners liked to party, have fun with friends and gym together share some drinks and smoke together.
With the birth of the children, however, the wife began to wonder if there was more to life, and found herself drawn to church, which had hereto been something that was done on social occasions rather than for personal interest. Her Christian upbringing resonated in her and she found herself becoming drawn to those teachings that she was brought up in. It is often said that when the student is ready the teacher will appear and so it was with Tammy-Lee, who found that study groups and regular services were very much her cup of tea. She chose to quit smoking, chose to quit drinking and found a tremendous amount of peace within her from her own choices.
However, as she grew, her husband did not. Where Tammy-Lee wanted more of the quality of her life’s choices, her husband wanted more of the quantity of the life they used to share. To him, she had changed. To her, he was inflexible and would not accompany her in her new journey. The differences were irreconcilable and, worse, triggered an abusive persona in her husband that she had not known existed. She chose to leave, but the battle was contested and bitter as drunken binges and drugged up nights led to terrible words, terrible threats, and just as dreadful clashes both behind closed doors and in front of the young children.
But the issue for Tammy Lee was not “should she leave”. In her heart she had already left. The issue was “How to stop loving him.” Despite the pain and the difficulty in knowing he would never wish to be a part of her life as she now is, there was the counter pain of knowing that she could not give him that which would “fix” things – her, going back to the previous lifestyle.
It is easy to understand that Tammy Lee yearns for her family, the familiarity and camaraderie they used to share, just as he does. But the fact is that they are no longer the same person, and a desire to grow can never reside alongside a desire to stagnate and even sink deeper. So the head choice was easy, but the 25 years of memories would plague her. How do you let go of 25 years of memories in 2 years of separation? You don’t. You live with the memories until the joys of your new choices further strengthen and override the importance of those memories.
Moving on is never easy, but when the desire to be where you need to be is greater than the comfort zone of the known, then it is the honourable thing to do.
And when the need to stay put in your old ways overrides the desire in some way walk alongside your partner when they need change, then the honourable thing to do is to let them.
So how do you get over “them” and the way you saw “them” when that person no longer exists? You simply remind yourself that just as you have a right to chose to move forward, others have a right to chose to move backward, and you accept the helplessness that comes with that, because it is their right to make that choice. To you be your way, to them be theirs. If it cannot be reconciled, and there is no middle ground, or abuse becomes the modus operandi of one of the partners then the kindest thing to do is to recognise that you love your change, and they love their status quo, and never to two shall meet. Missing someone is a part of letting go. It is okay.
It is by no means easy, but every person must decide what is most important – to compromise your beliefs for the sake of peace, or let your beliefs be your source of peace.
Support structures really come into their own at this point; it is crucial to surround yourself with people who will support you, respect your choice and listen to your heart, for however long it takes, however often that may be. After all, that’s what friends are for.