**This was originally published on Scary Mommy in August 2017
Much has changed, but the message remains.**
It’s interesting how we can walk through life thinking we have it all figured out. Society has a way of telling us what we want, who we should be, who we should be with, and once we attain it, that should equal happiness and contentment.
We don’t all have to buy into it, of course, but I definitely did. I had it “all.” A rich, full life consisting of everything most people dream of (if you buy in). Sure, the definition of happiness and fulfillment is different for everyone, but it always seems to have a collective thread of similarities, doesn’t it? A loving partner, healthy children, a career you enjoy. Those were the most important pieces to my life’s puzzle.
I felt so lucky to have found them early on, but I also felt undeserving at times because there were more moments than I’d like to admit when I felt like the pieces were somehow not quite fitting. They weren’t as flush and smooth as I thought they’d be.
But then again, not everything is supposed to be easy, so why should my life be any different?
I was married to a beautiful man for 10 years. There were a lot of happy moments, a lot of life-changing moments, a lot of peaks and an equal amount of valleys. It was an average marriage, probably above average to those looking in from the outside. They saw two deserving humans who were working toward their life passions while raising children and sharing their life with family and friends.
But for me, the woman who seemed to have it all figured out, I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t satisfied — why I was unfulfilled and why I felt so damn numb.
Being numb caused me to seek out distractions with work, friends, new projects, and with my kids, all to feel something. To fill a void, never knowing what it needed to be filled with — only that I felt hollow, empty. I began disconnecting from my spouse once I realized he couldn’t fill the void either. I had no idea what was wrong with me; I had no reason to be so unhappy. But that didn’t change the fact that I was.
Then I met the woman of my dreams.
Yeah, you read that right, I said woman of my dreams. You can imagine the inner turmoil I felt — the confusion that plagued my mind and filled my heart the first time I realized I loved her. It was the best and worst day of my life because it meant I had to make a decision. I had to make a choice.
Do I stay, or do I go? Do I end this, and continue searching my marriage for what I couldn’t seem to find? Do I neglect my needs, and in turn neglect his all the same? Do I leave my marriage and leave questions to potentially torment my children the rest of their lives? Do I dare risk the incredible judgment that comes with such a drastic change?
What the fuck am I supposed to do?
The absolute hardest decision I’ve ever made in my life was leaving my husband. He’s a great man. The man I vowed to stick out all the tough times with. The man I vowed to make happy for the rest of our lives. The man I vowed never to lie to. I own my part in this. But if I had stayed, it wouldn’t have been fair to either of us. I wouldn’t have been giving him all that he deserves. I loved him, and our family, too much to keep up the charade.
Being with her completed me. It filled the void and took away the numbness, but it hurt everyone else. It hurt my kids. It hurt my husband. It hurt her. It hurt me. And it hurt everyone who’d been doing life with us all these years.
No one could understand how I’d think my husband didn’t belong in my puzzle of life. But the thing is, my husband always belonged in my life’s puzzle and always will. He just doesn’t belong in the same place he’d been for the last 14 years. He completes me in a different way, in a way that completes my children and a way that completes our memories.
But she completes my heart. She completes my future. And she has filled the empty, bottomless pit of void.
I know what you might be thinking: “Another person shouldn’t complete you. You should complete you.”
Yes, you’re right. But when you have gone 34 years without knowing this kind of fulfillment, the kind others find in one another, and you thought it was as good as it was going to get, and you finally find it, you feel complete. You feel understood. You feel “gotten.”
I’m no longer looking to distract myself with other things that have no real purpose because I feel fulfilled in knowing where I belong. I belong with her, a woman, my woman. ME, with a WOMAN! I’m still baffled at times. It’s a shocker, I know.
I left my perfect husband for the perfect woman.
And I’m never going back. I almost did, out of guilt, and for my kids. I tried to go back to my old life so that we could be a whole family again, so that I could feel what it would be like to be accepted by everyone again, and it felt like the most foreign, unhappy feeling in the world. I had to face the reality that nobody goes unscathed in these situations, even when you know you’re doing the right thing. The best thing.
During that time, the time when I tried to make it work for everyone else and failed completely, the look of concern and panic on the faces of my children was gut-wrenching. I thought I would feel happy to be under the same roof as my family day in and day out. I thought my kids would be happy, not worried and anxious. But what I finally understood was that my kids are only okay if their mom and dad are okay. My happiness is their happiness. It was written all over their faces.
And in that moment, I realized my kids were going to be okay. They will always look to me. They will always observe what I’m doing and how I’m feeling. I had to live my truth. I want them to grow up to learn to chase what makes them happy and to never give up — even if that means they have to leave their marriage one day to do so.
Marriage is hard, especially when you realize you’re in a good one but need to leave it. Because your soulmate happens to be a woman. It was the hardest decision I have ever made, but one I would never take back because I am happier than I’ve ever been. I am more fulfilled than I ever thought imaginable, and I am complete.
My puzzle is complete. And I know it will take time for us all to fit into this puzzle seamlessly, and I know we will continue to add pieces over the years and possibly remove some, but I am happy. I am so happy. I chose happiness, and I’ll continue to choose it every time.
And this is what’s best for all of us. Now I can see that.