For years, I sublimated my own desires in service of my husband’s. I wasn’t living my own life.
Poet David Whyte has said that if you are living the life you are meant to live, someone will inevitably feel betrayed by it. My ex-husband can legitimately say that I betrayed him by having an affair. But would I also have betrayed him if I had become my true self in our marriage? He might have felt so. It would have meant putting myself and my own needs before his, but that’s what I was too scared to do. Since then, I have learned that betraying yourself can never be the price you pay to avoid betraying someone else. We don’t serve anyone if we are pretending. We only serve their façade—the part of them that is in denial and unwilling to admit what they already know. We don’t owe anyone the denial of who we are.
We can’t give our lives away to avoid someone else’s anger, demands, or needs. I did that for much too long, and it practically killed me. I had to do something different regardless of the outcome.
As I have said, for a long time I thought divorce wasn’t possible for me. I was too frightened of the consequences if I left. It seemed unfathomable to go through the exposure of having done something terrible. But eventually, I had to face my terror and my shame. And guess what? It didn’t annihilate me. The ground didn’t crumble beneath me. I’m still standing … and I have more personal power today than I ever thought possible. If I can do that, so can you.
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