When You Know, You'll Know
Since I started writing and speaking about leaving my marriage, I have been approached by women and men who are at a crossroads in their own marriages and looking for answers to determine their next moves. I decided to write this post, because I know the emotions and thoughts that come up in that space. It can be daunting to imagine the change it will require to leave the familiarity of even the most uncomfortable dynamics. It is comforting to reach out to others who have the shared experience, but truthfully the only person who can decide when and if you will leave is you.
One day you will wake up just knowing.
Recently I ran into a mentor I knew in my thirties. That was a time when my life was complicated with a difficult marriage and three kids. She and I shared similar stories of husbands who saw little value in who we were and were relentless in dimming our very bright lights. Not too long after those conversations began, she left her husband and started a new chapter of her life. I however remained with mine and was still living the same story.
Fast forward four years and I ran into this same woman. She was glowing bright and had this levity in her words and energy that radiated all around. Her career was blossoming and she was a force to be reckoned with. Shortly after leaving her marriage, she started dating and began a new relationship. This man is everything the other was not. He lifts her up, values who she is and loves and adores her. Although I had not met him yet, I could see who he was in her life through her words and actions. He didn't change her, he brought out the most authentic and peaceful parts of her. All the things her ex, like mine, had controlled and manipulated from existing through his toxicity.
I also had a little glow in me as well, but it wasn’t from happiness. It was morning sickness from being 2 months pregnant. However the true nausea came when I had to tell this woman whom I admired and who knew the depths of the unhappiness I existed in with my marriage the truth about me. Not only had I stayed, I was going to bring a fourth child into the world with him. That was an embarrassing moment of recognition and admission. I felt this guilt that I was a stupid woman who wasn’t brave enough to walk away from something my intelligence should know was unhealthy for me. That’s when she gave me the best advice that I have given to other women since. “You will know when you are ready and then you will be done.”
Leaving a life you envisioned and built is jumping into the unknown and uncertainty of an entirely new narrative. For me, I had been planning in my mind to leave in a set time frame. I would tell myself, once this child graduates, this one begins middle school and this one is in elementary school. Then it will be time. Life happens while we are making plans. Those plans were emotional placeholders to ward off the unhappiness with the possibility of something better on the horizon although far. I thought I could just stay and live a life of an empty shell for a few more years and then the time would come.
What I failed to realize was that the thought for the future ignited the release of my soul. So although my mind was planning for the future, my heart and soul were ahead of the game and already prepared for the leap sooner than my carefully Capricorn-like plan outlined. It was no longer a time frame, it was now “life is too short to waste one more moment living in misery”. I will also add on, I was the only one employed and holding down the finances on my own already, so this made my decision much easier and aspects of my transition less challenging. Even still, controlling people can even make the most capable person feel handicapped from seeing their power.
Her words came back to me at that moment,
``You will know when you are ready and then you will be done.”
As most things in life are, timing was not ideal. I had found out a few months prior that my job was in a precarious position of being changed due to a system restructuring. So while I contemplated leaving my husband, I also had to contend with the possibility that if my job changed there would be no way my emotional and mental strength could make both the drastic shift of a new job and separation all at the same time. The possibility of being tied to this man because of that had created so much fear. At one point the pressure led me to break down crying in front of my colleagues. So the day after I got a phone call from my boss sharing the news that my job was safe due to a decision by the board of directors and literally by the skin of my teeth, I now knew.
I walked downstairs the next morning, looked at my ex and said, “ I have two things to tell you. I get to keep my position in the department and I am done with this marriage and leaving you.” I know it sounds a little savage. And it was. However, I had spent seventeen years being nurturing and gentle, providing every excuse of why I needed to change and not him and working as a one woman show keeping my marriage from crumbling. At that moment I was liberated to no longer be that woman, and I gave myself permission to release her and welcome in the new.
The moment you know, you also might discover a new person in place of the one that was afraid of change and jumping into the unknown. You gain strength to be brave and walk away from unhappiness into a search for what it could possibly be to truly find peace and contentment. I knew that the marriage I was in would never fulfill that for me, and somewhere out there in the world there was something else. You know when you are ready.
When I ran into my mentor the other day, I had the opportunity to replace the last encounter with a new one. I got to share the story of where I am today. My life is mine and now I write about my experience for others to gain insight. I took my story and began producing a podcast to elevate stories of people who have turned their pain into power and led others to heal through love. The scared thirty year old mother of three bloomed into something different when I took the leap of faith on myself. My light shines bright, I glow with contentment and I am living my best life yet.
It’s not my ultimate happiness. There is always room to grow in this and I still am waiting for the time when I get to share this best life with a partner who adores me and is ready to create and build together. But for now I trust that I know when I am ready for change and will listen to myself when the moments come.
If you are at this familiar crossroad don’t question yourself or feel disappointed because . . .
“You will know when you're ready and then you will be done.”