To quote Frank Sinatra, I did it my way and friends, you will too. But to navigate those muddy waters of love after a separation, a divorce or a betrayal is hard to do alone. I’m here. I get it that you may feel like you still love him and maybe you do. Like me, you may hold a sacred space for him in your heart for always, simply because you were married for a long time, have a history together and maybe even kids.
Some people love with their whole hearts, accepting their spouses for who they are, who we know they can be and who they once were to us. But to see who they are now being, who is different than the man we fondly remember with loving eyes and heart, is the challenge. To find peace within us to acknowledge that the man we loved may only be a speck in the man who is not with us anymore, that’s the hard part. To see him with the eyes of reality and not the eyes of a hopeful romantic spouse is difficult.
I remember once lamenting to my friend, but I love him! To her credit, with a kind heart, she gave it to me straight and said,
You loved the man you married. You loved the man you thought you knew. But this man, the one who’s left you and your kids bears little resemblance to that man and honey, the sooner you see reality, the faster you will heal. Now isn’t it about time you let that go?
Honestly, I felt like I’d been punched in the gut. I sobbed and angrily defended him and defended that I still loved him. But she remained impassive and stoic, allowing my grief to yowl as the reality set in to my heart. Minutes ticked by, my sobbing increased and she stayed quietly on the phone waiting me out until I had expended all my tears. When I gulped and blew my nose, she was still there on the phone.
It was as if I needed to hear those words from someone whom I knew loved me, but who also knew the torture I was enduring in my head and my heart. I will be ever grateful to her for her strength and for taking the chance by telling it to me straight because I just didn’t want to see it. I wanted to cover my hurt with grief and hope.
Truth be told, I didn’t love him anymore. I loved the memory of him, the loving, kind-hearted, generous man that I had fallen in love with so many years ago. My bedraggled profession of I still love him felt instantly released when the reality jolt hit me. It was like she snapped her fingers and I saw the situation from the outside of my wounded heart.
Sometimes you just have to get to that place where you really don’t want to go. But you can get there easier with a friend who cares enough to tell you the truth with love in her heart for you. I am ever grateful for that hard conversation because it changed me.
If you are harboring that feeling in your heart, mind and soul, think about why you say you love him and if he’s really the person you think you love. Is he really someone to love now or are you loving a ghost of the man you once knew? Get a trusted friend to help you through it (or a therapist).
It’s not giving up on your man when you allow yourself to see the reality of how he’s behaving and that he’s no longer being the loving man you believed he had in him. It’s simply accepting what’s real and letting go of the fantasy that you held on for so long. You can still love his essence (which is how I hold the sacred space for him), but he is no longer worthy to occupy your heart.
I’ve come a long way, baby. You can too!