This is something I’ve wanted to write about for several months, but have been putting off out of fear. I was afraid of being judged by friends, family, and total strangers. Today, I feel ready to share.
I walked away from my marriage six months ago.
It wasn’t a bad marriage. Not at all. In fact, it was a pretty good one. Nobody would have guessed that we would be quietly planning a divorce after just over a year of marriage. We had been together for more than eight years and knew each other better than anyone else could ever hope to.
So what went wrong?
I changed. A lot. I guess to clarify that, I would say I truly began to understand myself, my goals, and my needs. I learned what motivated me and inspired me. I figured out what made me happy. While all these things were a part of me in some way, I let them all out in a big way about a year ago.
How did that affect the relationship?
I started creating distance once I realized that our paths had started branching in different directions. I became fully focused on my goals and working towards becoming the absolute best version in myself. I traveled more, worked more, and spent more time on me. I chose myself instead of my relationship.
Why did you decide to call it quits?
There was a point when I really, truly felt like myself. It was a new feeling to me, and an incredibly exciting one. It was on a solo trip to Beijing looking for an escape where I could work and explore. I did a solo hike for eight hours on a remote part of the Great Wall of China, during which I realized that I had never pushed myself harder or motivated myself more than I did when I had only myself to rely on. Things fell apart shortly after that.
Did you ever try to fix it?
Yes. When we first took a ‘break’, I believe that we both fully intended on returning to the relationship after a period to see if we could make it work. I spent a lot of time contemplating the relationship, writing down my thoughts, and thinking of what needed to happen to fix things. Needless to say, during the break it became apparent to me that it would not be possible.
How did he react?
I can’t speak for him, but I know I caused him a lot of pain and suffering during our separation. I was off traveling and investing time in myself, while he was still carrying on with life as usual at home. Once he was able to go on his own adventure and fully commit to himself and enriching his own life, I think we finally arrived on the same page.
What about your family and friends?
The whole divorce thing wasn’t something we formally announced. It was quietly shared and initially met with surprise from most people we knew. I think most people didn’t understand it for a long time, and many likely still do not. Since I instigated the separation, I think I took the brunt of the blame. For a while, I felt pretty bad about that. Now, I realize that this was a personal choice and one between the two of us – the opinions of friends and family should have very little impact on the outcome.
Do you feel guilty?
Yes. Not over what you might assume though. In the long course of our relationship, I feel I may have prevented him from growing individually as I spent most of the relationship focusing on our growth as a couple. I feel guilty for potentially wasting his time or taking away from his personal experience in life. And of course I feel awful for causing him and his family pain. That’s never fun.
Are you happier now?
I am shamelessly happy. I am doing what I love. I’m experiencing the world, working on Reset Retreat- a company that inspires me, and taking steps to improve myself every single day.
Is he happier now?
I truly hope so, but that is not a question I can answer.
If you could start all over, what would you have done differently?
Nothing. The whole relationship was a learning experience, and the majority of it was great. Neither of us would be the people we are today having not gone through what we did.
What are the most important things that you learned?
- I have to trust myself. Certainly seek advice, listen to the experiences of others, and question myself. When it comes down to it, what’s in my heart is what truly matters. That is my personal truth.
- Not everything is supposed to work out. One comment I heard often was “Don’t worry, you two will work it out!” I realized pretty quickly that things work out the way they should. In this case, the relationship ended. That was the best solution.
- Being selfish isn’t always bad. Initially, this was my greatest concern. That people would think I was selfish. And they did. Guess what? I am selfish. I chose me. Is that bad? No. I can have a much more positive impact on this world by being happy and remaining true to myself.
Would you believe that a few years ago I wholeheartedly believed that I was the type of person that would be married to one person my whole life. I was a romantic. I still am! But things change. In this case, priorities changed.
Some of the most difficult decisions we have to make in our life are often the most polarizing. Not everyone will agree with your personal choices or be able to understand that they are your choices to make.
I know this is a controversial topic. In fact, I know many of the people that read it may think that I’m a quitter. A terrible person who walked away from what many would consider to be a good marriage. I understand that, and I believe everyone is entitled to their opinion.
This was without question the most difficult decision I have made to date. There is no right or wrong choice when it comes to deciding whether or not to end a relationship. It all comes down to circumstances. For me, this was the best choice to make.
I’m sharing my story because I know this is a situation many people may struggle with. I can’t offer advice, or a solution, but I hope that sharing my own experience and my perspective will provide comfort to someone else going through something similar.
Have you had to make a life changing decision that was unpopular or difficult? How did it affect your life? If you’d like to share your story with the Reset Retreat community, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.