A friend asked how happy I was in my marriage. “80-90%” I replied.
“Wow, that’s pretty high,” said my friend who felt unhappy in his marriage.
I don’t know how most people would rate their relationship to happiness, but I was pretty happy. My husband treated me in a kind and supportive manner. In fact, he encouraged all my life choices, even those that impacted his life.
Me: “I want to move to Oregon.”
Him: “Let me go there and check it out.” Then later, “Okay, let’s move.”
Me: “I think I’m going to massage school.”
Him: “That sounds great.”
Me: “I think I’m going to quit my job (with benefits and a salary) and start doing massage full time (as a self-employed person.”)
No push back. No shaming. No questioning my choices. That was healing for me. His support helped me make scary choices that moved me forward on my life path.
My family loved him and I loved his family. Still do. We both appreciated nature, a simple lifestyle, and adored our pets. We enjoyed travel and socializing with our friends.
And Then I Left Him.
To be clear I didn’t leave him because he was kind and supportive. Those reasons, along with common values, kept me in the relationship. That and fear. And maybe some hope.
Leaving took me two and half years. Even though I was mostly happy in the relationship I knew something was missing. When I would talk with my husband about my feelings he assured me everything was fine. It was from his perspective.
I value connection. In fact, it’s one of my top values (and even one of my super powers. I love connecting clients and friends with the perfect resource, service, tool or themselves.) I’m not interested in superficial relationships. Not with my family, my friends, or my clients. Especially not with my primary partner. I wanted a partner. I want soulful partnerships with all the important people in my life. My ex and I were good companions, but we weren’t partners.
The Cost of Staying
I could have stayed. Staying, in some ways, would have been easier. I tried to stay. I explored what was missing in my relationship and looked at how we could heal that.One of my wise friends asked what would be different if I left. I pictured a neater house, flowers in the front flowerbed, a new couch. Superficial stuff really. I guess that’s why buying a new couch didn’t work.
While I was trying to fix or fill the lack I felt, I was also considering my attraction to women. You might assume that the issue in my relationship was that my husband had the wrong equipment.That being a lesbian was my reason for leaving. But it wasn’t. I wasn’t seeking a certain gender. I craved connection. Partnership.
Over the years while I sifted and sorted my relationship I stayed stuck. I felt afraid to leave. Could I make it on my own? Would I be alone the rest of my life? Staying felt like I was agreeing to a life that was less than what I wanted. But leaving scared me. So I stayed.
Wisdom from My Body
Then my body said, “no.”
My mother had ovarian cancer. So did my paternal grandmother. And my maternal grandfather’s sister. I listen to my ovaries. When I started to have pain I took my one precious body to my OBGYN. When she palpated my belly she could feel something that didn’t feel normal to her. And I felt even more pain.
An ultrasound revealed nothing. The verdict: an ovarian cyst had ruptured during the exam. While I was waiting for the results (and trying not to freak out) I drew my ovaries. I can’t tell you what the drawing looked like, but the message was clear. My body was letting me know that I needed to choose me. I needed to make a move.
I moved into a little rental on a creek and started dating a lovely woman who I now call my wife. Actually she’s technically my wife, but I call her my partner because that is what she is. While I’ve never regretted my brave move to get unstuck, I do wish I’d been brave sooner.It took listening. It took courage. I lost a few friends in the process. But I came out (no pun intended) happier and healthier.
If you’re in a stuck place, know that I get you.I’ve been there more than once. I’ve been there more than twice. I’m here to tell you that finding a way to move from stuckness, to embrace change in a way that feels honoring and manageable, is life giving. You came here to live a full life. The life of your dreams. A 100% life, not an 80% life.
ps. I’m offering a free four week class starting on Monday July 15 called Embrace Change:
You’re a woman ready to embrace change, even if it scares you. You want to live your dream life. But fear, self-sabotage, doubt and stress block you from making the progress you’d love. You’re tired of feeling unsuccessful. Learn how to be present with where you are rather than feeling embarrassed or overwhelmed. You’ll learn to take manageable baby steps toward your goals, steps that allow you to maintain your wellness and inner balance. You’ll move past feeling stuck and fatigued to a place of confidence and energy for your next steps.
You can apply here.