It's not easy to tell the truth, but it's worth it. This is an excerpt from my upcoming book: I'm scared & doing it anyway.
There I was on the conveyor belt of life in 2008, going along pretty darn happy most days, when I met a friend while he was visiting his family for Christmas.
Walking around Manhattan, we talked about his marriage, and he said:
[box type="none"]The thing about us is that we can execute any plan. We're really good at it.[/box]
In a way, it's a compliment. A couple should be in sync; that's the only way you can survive having children, as far as I can tell.
The way he said it, though, it was a limitation. He was looking at his married life, seeing their ability to make things work, and wondering: Shouldn't there be more?
His words rolled around in my head that whole Christmas and New Year's.
My husband and I were amazingly good at planning. Our wedding, moves, work decisions, travel. We had hiccups and arguments and misunderstandings like anyone else, but we were on a path together. There was no question about that.
And yet, I couldn't shake the same question: Shouldn't there be more?
In January, I decided the answer was yes.
Through nearly ten years together we had done so much, made so much happen, supported each other throughout.
We had also carefully avoided looking at what was missing.
He wanted kids. I was pretty sure that I didn't. I was on a journey to greater emotional intelligence through coaching after the experience with the drain in the hospital, and he thought all of that was great. For me.
What clinched it was a normal night at home.
I was on a desktop computer in my office at one end of our apartment and he was at the other, sitting in front of the TV with his laptop. My childhood is full of such memories. The comfortable isolation.
I knew that we could live forever like this.
What came next can only be described as ripping your own arm out of its socket.
I said what needed to be said.
[box type="none"]This is great, but we both want more.[/box]
Divorce meant losing our best friends, each other. It meant upending our lives: me moving in with a friend, then in with my dad, then to Washington, DC. Him recreating a home in the space that once was our home.
It meant quite a while of believing that I was the bad guy. I did this to us.
I still do beat myself up about it now and then. The what-ifs that can haunt you at 3 a.m.
Even if he didn't see it then, or wouldn't admit it, I could feel what was happening. How our lives were becoming an orchestrated co-existence.
It's not easy to tell the truth, especially when it hurts.
It's hard to face the unknown—in this case, the fear of being alone (which has been a big monster in my closet since the divorce).
It's a lot harder for me, though, not to see something once I'm staring it in the face.
It's only a matter of time before I will act on it. It took two weeks for me to say what needed to be said—ripping my arm out, and his.
Luckily I'd say both of us are growing them back nicely a few years later. (I can't express how relieved I felt to know that he was dating.)
What has surfaced since is an appreciation for doing or saying what others cannot. It can be a thankless job.
He may get remarried and have kids, and I may never get a Thank You card in the mail acknowledging my role in his happiness. Instead, I may be the bad guy in the story of his life forever. I really would hate that.
What I'd hate more? Not telling the truth. Seeing what was missing and not doing something about it.
I can't control someone else's story. I can only control my own.
Here's hoping for a good ending.