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.
well done Elizabeth – you have done the right thing. Hugs, Pri
Thanks for the encouragement
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I am anxious to hear how the time following this assertion progressed for you. My ex also desires for us to be “friends” since we were “merely not meant to be together in a romantic way, but we now share these three beautiful children – for their sake”. He has a way of reiterating in me the feeling that I was not worth spending one more moment with or trying to resolve our issues because “look, you’re emotional and can’t let your anger go” – “see, I am the bigger person because I can be polite and I ‘care about you’, I just don’t love you or want to spend another moment with you”… I want to sever this emotional dependence myself. For myself. And I want to feel free because of it. I don’t really owe him anything-do I? I don’t know why he can make me feel like I do.
I am appreciating your journey. Know my prayers are with you and my praise is for you. You are an amazing woman – and I don’t even ‘really’ know you. Your story and perspective is important, thanks for sharing.
I actually intend writing a follow-up to this in another post. (Week 17 I think). It is harder for you at the moment as you would need to regularly interact with him because of your young children. I have been more able to ‘cut him loose’ and gradually disentangle as I do not have to interact now except for the divorce process (and family milestones). However, the early emotions appear the same as yours. I was being made to feel the ‘inconsiderate one’ by not wishing to be ‘friends’. I had to become assertive enough to say to myself that I had the right to make my own choice on whether I wanted him as a friend. That was MY choice. To do that I had to emotionally detach myself. It was hard but I am now in a better place for me and therefore for my children.
I thought my ex and I could be good friends until I realized that being a friend of mine is an honor for which my ex doesn’t qualify. A friend would have qualities that my ex doesn’t have. You can’t take a ruined marriage, just add water, and enjoy a refreshing cup of friendship. For me, when I thought my ex could be a friend, I was really underestimating the job description.
Well said. I am glad that you are placing a high price on who shall be your friends, and allowing yourself to choose. You deserve that. Your comment has propelled me further forward in becoming a stronger person and feeling good about myself in deserving positive people as my friends into the future. Thanks
Dealing with this divorce thing is certainly a process, but we’re lucky we can reach out from wherever we are in that process to others who are wherever they are in the process and really make a connection. Your posts are very helpful to me, too. I think we are experiencing all the stages all the time to some degree, but WE are moving forward to where THEY are not moving us.
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For me, this post speaks to me of letting go, I am not always able to cut people loose but have sometimes had to. I think my friendship with an ex has overall hurt me, kept me from being “free.” This is a great and inspirational post! Thanks for reminding me, the quote started it out so well, too!
I know what you mean about friendship with an ex hurting. Mine went overseas for 8 months, so it was easier. Since his return we have had some coffees together with the children and each time it has left me with gut-wrenching anxiety. It was a huge pretense, being “friends”. I did not feel myself at all. It made me go backwards in my own positive direction for days afterwards. I have made a conscious decision to break free again. This is one of the things that I am to address with myself.
This is also one of the most difficult things to do. Hugs & kudos that you got there. Xx♡♡
Yes VERY difficult … and it keeps bouncing back too, albeit in a smaller way.
Thanks for your support.