The Direction of Happiness

Since I’ve stopped using filters (other than locking this down to friends), and since I don’t know how many people are still reading at LiveJournal, I have no idea how many of you know that my marriage has been struggling for quite awhile. Since 2005, pretty much, but most intensely in the last 2 years. I’ll give back story if anyone reading this needs it, but I don’t want to bore anyone who already knows.

The easiest place to start is that I’ve known for about two years that it’s over, but I have been unable to break away. I did move out, twice. Both times were hard and both times I ended up moving back in with Jeff. I can’t list all the factors that make it difficult, but I can tell you that fear is mixed up in most of them. I can convince myself that I should just make the best of what I have. I really can, and in fact, that’s kind of where I’ve been for the past little while, with little bursts of knowing that I’m lying to myself. Jeff knows I’m ambivalent and that I don’t know how this will end, that if I said to him today that I want to spend the rest of my life with him, I’d be lying. I have said this to him point blank. These conversations tend to be gentle and honest, but I always pull my punch because I don’t want to hurt him. I always leave that little bit of room for both my own fear (what if this is the biggest mistake I’ve ever made? what if there’s no better relationship? what if no one else wants me (that I also want)? ad nauseum) and for his feelings. I alternate between feeling like a coward and feeling like I’ve given up on something. Yesterday, I got this note from Daily Om:

January 4, 2011
The Direction Of Happiness
Leaving A Relationship

When attempts at working out issues in a relationship aren’t working, it may be time to examine moving on.

One of the hardest decisions we ever make in life is leaving a long-term relationship that just isn’t working. When attempts at repairing and working out issues aren’t working, it may be time to examine moving on. We are emotional creatures, and when our heartstrings are tied to those of another, separating from that person can feel like an act of courage. It is not something most of us will take lightly, and many of us will struggle with our desire to stay in a relationship that is unfulfilling simply in order to avoid that pain. We may question whether the happiness we seek even exists, and we may wonder if we might be wiser to simply settle where we are, making the best of what we have.

On the one hand, we almost relish the idea that true happiness is not out there so that we can avoid the pain of change. On the other hand, we feel within ourselves a yearning to fulfill our desire for relationships that are vital and healing. Ultimately, most of us will follow this call, because deep within ourselves we know that we deserve to be happy. We all deserve to be happy, no matter where we find ourselves in this moment, and we are all justified in moving, like plants toward the light, in the direction that leads to our greatest fulfillment. First, though, we may need to summon the courage to move on from the relationship that appears to be holding us back.

Taking the first steps will be hard, but the happiness we find when we have freed ourselves from a situation that is draining our energy will outshine any hardship we undergo to get there. Keeping our eyes trained on the horizon, we begin the work of disentangling ourselves from the relationship that no longer fits. Every step brings us closer to a relationship that will work, and the freedom we need to find the happiness we deserve.

It felt more than a little like a cledon – when a message meant for someone else (or in this case, everyone who gets this email) has significant meaning for me. It also made me think of Brene Brown’s discussion of the roots of the word courage meaning to speak from/of the heart. Pretty much that’s what I have to do. I keep waiting to be “sure” about a particular decision, ignoring what my gut has been telling me for awhile. I keep throwing all these what-if’s into the mix: what if we get to Portland and things change, what if my relationship with L was just a “thing” and I’m really not queer, what if I’m on/off Prozac… I could stay stuck here forever, shouting over my own intuition. And then there’s the pragmatic stuff – how can I make ends meet, how will we co-parent, blah blah blah…

I’m just so scared. And I don’t talk about it much because I feel like I’ve used up all my talking vouchers, like my friends are tired of hearing about it and waiting for me to DO SOMETHING ALREADY! Thing is, this is contributing to me feeling isolated and hopeless about it. Prozac didn’t make a difference on this either way, other than I can now manage an orgasm with the vibe when I want. I didn’t have some big jump in physical attraction towards Jeff, other than the comfort of being touched by an old friend. It really sucks as physical attraction was such a huge part of our relationship for so many years. I feel sad and broken.

Probably enough of the stream-of-consciousness dumping. Despite the sadness and fear, I’m maintaining a decent observer-self through this. I just have to keep writing, at least, and reaching out even though it’s really uncomfortable. I keep wishing – hard – that this could be resolved without anyone getting hurt, even though I know that’s not possible. And as much as I focus on trying to keep from hurting Jeff and the kids, I wonder if I’m using that as a smokescreen because I am also afraid of the hurt I’ll feel.

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