“How much longer can I hold out?”
This was the question that had started plaguing me every day, as soon as I woke up, while doing the school run, while getting ready for work. “How much longer can I hold out?”
No-one would have guessed it. From the outside, my life looked like a fairytale: after losing my husband of 15 years, I found and fell in love with a new man who was ready and willing to love me and love my five children as his own. He was tall, dark and handsome, his own three children were well-behaved and welcoming and, when we went out as a family, nobody suspected that we were a blended family. That’s how good we looked.
But, on the inside, all was not well. I had known for a while that things were not right between my new husband and I. Although he was a good man, trustworthy, dependable and committed to the family, I knew he was not the one for me. I knew it as soon as the limerence faded. We were not on the same wavelength: spiritually, intellectually, or emotionally. I didn’t feel seen or appreciated. I didn’t feel heard or understood. And so, after numerous failed attempts to establish a meaningful connection, I shut down: I stopped talking, stopped sharing, stopped investing. By the third year of our marriage, there was no emotional connection, no chemistry, no shared dreams or plans – except when it came to the children.
And so I suppressed my feelings: for the sake of the children. The children became my number one priority. I couldn’t afford to speak my truth and risk breaking up this beautiful blended family unit, ruining this inspiring fairytale. And I planned to stay silent and stick it out, just until the kids were old enough not to be hurt by the inevitable break-up.
It was a couple of weeks before I realised that, for while, every morning, I had been waking up to the same thought: “How much longer can I hold out?”
And then something inside me shifted.
In my coaching practise, I teach women to take back their power. I teach them to be the hero of their own life story. I teach them that they get to choose the story that will be told about their lives.
But I had chosen the story of a martyr. A martyr who lied her way through a marriage to keep a man in the house for the sake of her children. A martyr who used a good man, who was out of integrity, out of alignment. Who was a fraud.
And that was not the story I wanted to be told about my life.
That day, I said, ‘No more. I choose truth. I choose happiness. I choose me.’
After making that decision, I spent a lot of time in contemplation and prayer and the one thing that I kept asking for was this: ‘Let it be a peaceful and loving end to this chapter.’ Again and again and again. Peaceful and loving. Peaceful and loving.
Reader, I told him.
And it was peaceful and loving. There were no recriminations, no tears, no fights.
I am grateful to him for accepting my decision and immediately reassuring the children that he was still their dad. Proof of the kind of man he is.
And, after he left, I cannot describe to you the lightness that overcame me. More than the weight of his presence, it was the weight of the guilt and shame and blame and despair that was finally gone.
I could breathe again.
I could look myself in the eye again.
I could stand tall again.
If you are preparing to choose truth in any area of your life, keep these 3 things in mind:
- Speak from a place of peace and love, rather than resentment or anger.
- Don’t be attached to the outcome, either way. Your role is to speak your truth with clarity and certainty and allow the chips to fall where they may.
- Remember that, for every decision, there is a consequence. This applies equally to your decision to speak and your decision to remain silent. You get to decide which consequences are worth it and what your ultimate goal is, then choose accordingly.
They say that the truth will set you free. It certainly freed me.
Because now, every day, as soon as I wake up, while doing the school run, while getting ready for work, I am deeply grateful for the journey, grateful for the growth, grateful for the story I get to tell.