Today’s challenge is to draw a turning point in your life. This was easy because it changed everything – the life I had, the thoughts I had, ideas about life and love, my mental state, my emotional state, friends and family etc.
I told Janie I was leaving her in May of 2010. I had a lot of reasons for leaving, some bigger than others, that I tried to “get over” or work through for the last couple years of our relationship. At the same time, my relationship with Monica complicated everything because suddenly I had feelings for someone else in the middle of falling out of love with my wife. It wasn’t the cause, but it was a convenient excuse for Janie and I to blame our troubles on. Our problems were bigger and they had begun way before Monica and I met, but leaving in the middle of this burgeoning relationship was hard and hurtful for Janie to process. It looked suspicious. It was poor timing. I have regrets about how things played out.
I remember the night I told Janie I was leaving her. It is one of the clearest memories I have of anything else in that entire process. When I think back to it, I can feel the weight of everything. I experience it almost as if I am back in that moment itself. I was sobbing. Janie was crying. It was dim and late and we sat on the couch trying to reconcile what I had just told her. After the heaves of emotion and tears, we just in silence. Occasionally one of us woudl comment on how weird it felt. I remember Janie pressing her hands to her head. I remember the pain. It was the worst and most awful moment of my life – breaking her heart and my own all at once with five little words – “I can’t do this anymore.”
I learned in therapy that part of adulthood is making a decision between two hard things. And sometimes those two hard things both cause hurt and destruction. I could have stayed, but it would have hurt more than it did to leave, even when leaving felt like dying. Sometimes the choice you make is between yourself and the person you love and I’m here to say that hurting the person you love most in the world feels disgusting. It feels so ugly. I didn’t know it would feel so bad, but if I had known, I would never have done it. I would have stayed and died a little bit each day and eventually I would have thrown myself in front of a bus or off a bridge because I was so unhappy in myself. I left to save my own life, and while that is selfish and while it doesn’t make anything easier for the one who is left, it is and was the right thing to do. For me. I have never forgotten that. It changed everything – first for the worse and then, in time, for the better in almost every way.