Week 14 – Detachment – December 2011
“Man cannot discover new oceans until he has the courage to lose sight of the shore” Andre Gide
Up to this point my husband had been around a fair bit, collecting his things, discussing finances etc. He wanted our relationship to be the same as before – except for living apart – and for us to openly be ‘friends’ with each other. I was still in so much pain that I simply froze in his presence which he took as a personal affront. For me to survive, I needed time to heal and to have an emotional separation from him which he was not giving me. I had to be strong enough to ask him for it.
This was not a straight forward process. Firstly, I had to finally face the happy-ever-after as it really was – an illusion. You know, that journey of the grief process and finally coming to a state of acceptance. I had to come to a state of accepting the happy-ever-after as an illusion and let go of it. Secondly, I had to emotionally detach from my husband by letting go – or standing aside – from those feelings of love and care I held for him right up until the very moment of separation. This was not easy and it took a considerable mental attitude from my part. It was a difficult and necessary part of my own healing – for me. Thirdly, I had to mentally separate my issues from his issues and let go of his. They were not my responsibility. They were no longer my problem. I let go of them. Fourthly, I worked at setting up an emotional distance by moving myself from a state of ‘reacting’ to ‘acting’ in his presence. ‘Reacting’ is the ‘fight – flight – or freeze’ response one often takes to a stressful situation. ‘Acting’ is a more measured planned response; by allowing time and space to absorb a situation and offering a true and honest response. Giving in to his requests or ‘freezing’ simply to save the pain of an argument is not an honest response. Fifthly, I set myself healthy boundaries by aiming to make a clear statement to him without an extensive discussion. ‘This is what I need. This is why.’ End of story. Lastly, I learned to quieten my mind and, having made my decision, to let go of all those things about the situation that I could not control – including his response.
Having worked out my action, I contacted him. I explained that after thirty seven years of marriage and four beautiful children, many worthwhile projects together, sharing triumphs and tragedies, after the sanctuary of marriage and all that means, and because I was still suffering the pain of abandonment without choice or discussion; that friendship was not at this point in time an option for me. He would have to let me go.
This was one of the most difficult things I have ever done and yet one of the most important.
Afterwards I was calm and I was at peace with myself.