Learning without reflection is a waste. Reflection without learning is dangerous-Confucius
It took me five years to walk away from my 15-year marriage. Why so long? If you remember in “Beginning of The End”, I spoke about finding my soul mate. I wasn’t just talking, I really believed that I had found that in Mr. Ex. I was willing to go through hell and back with him. The problem was that once that seven-year itch kicked in, we went straight to hell and stayed there.
I said seven-year itch but, for us and many other couples, it was really a 10-year itch. After much arguing and finger pointing, our marriage had become unrecognizable. For a while, I felt like Chante’ Moore and Mr. Ex was a stranger in my house. Then one day he said he got his own place and was moving out the next morning. Yep, just like that. It was at this point that I began to go through the Seven Stages of Grieving a Break-Up.
In “Past time”, I had mentioned that I had blown through the first three stages. There is no time limit on how long you may stay in one stage or how you will go through it. I just so happened to start grieving the inevitable during the break-up and makeup of our 10-year itch.
Stage 1: Desperate for answers
Although our marriage was falling apart, I just couldn’t understand why he wanted to leave. He was my soul mate and he was supposed to stay and fight for us. What was I doing so wrong as a wife? Did I expect too much, did I want too much of his time, and how can I fix this? I just kept asking myself these questions over and over again. Never mind that when he decided to leave I had been feeling unloved, undesirable and weak. I was married but, I felt so lonely and sad. The break up lasted only a month. When he came back with his “I will change”, “I want my family back”, I just welcomed him back with open arms.
Stage 2: Denial
After a few weeks of being back together, I realized things would never be the same. Reflecting back on things now, I can admit that I was a bit bitter. I was upset about the way he left. He signed a new lease behind my back. He had been planning this for a while. All the utilities were behind and as far as he knew I was unemployed. By the grace of God, I landed a paralegal position for a state agency the same day he left.
Once together again, my feelings and the way I looked at him began to change. The more I thought about the split, the less I cared for him. I would say I was over it but, in reality, I never quite got past it. I just denied, denied, denied.
Stage 3: Bargaining
Now this stage lasted 4 years for me. As I denied the change in my heart, I began to bargain with myself. If I don’t push him to spend time home maybe he would be around more. If I stopped working on my business and work on his maybe he would value me more. Despite his wavering word, if I trusted him more maybe he would love me more. Nothing I did made a difference, it only made me complacent. It created this nasty comfort zone that I mentioned in “Courage to leave”.
My reflections taught me a lot about what to allow in my relationships. First and foremost, you have to love yourself enough to know when you’re not being loved right. One does not have to just accept whatever kind of love that another gives. Love should not be rationed but, instead limitless. It also taught me that if things don’t feel right, then don’t just push your feelings to the side. If all else fails, then sometimes you have to do what you have to do…..
Your turn to reflect
- What kind of questions have you been desperate to have answers to during a break-up? Did you ever get the answer?
- What are some things that you denied that kept you in a failing relationship?
- What part of yourself or happiness were you willing to give up to keep an unhealthy relationship?
Source: Lachmann Psy. D, S. (2014, June 10). The 7 Stages Of Grieving A Break Up. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.