After being married for over 14 years, my husband and I decided it was time to separate.
We had been struggling for years and debating if he should move out for months. Big life transitions are rarely cut and dry.
If I had the choice to do it all over again with him, I would. Not just because of the three wonderful children we made, but because we both taught each other quite a bit about love, loss and ourselves.
This transition has not been easy by any stretch, I've second-guessed myself more times than I can count. The guilt comes in waves and knocks me over some days.
And I've been afraid.
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Not of being alone. Not of standing on my own two feet. Not of having how to rake the roof, or turn off the water if there is a leak, or learn how to troubleshoot the fridge if I need to.
I've been afraid of my first weekend without my three kids. I've heard this is one of the worst parts because it isn't just a weekend away or a weekend without your kids, this will become your new normal—scheduled time alone, whether you want it or not, and a reminder that you are two parents, living separate lives with the same children.
A family that is not what it once was.
The first time I allowed myself to think about this, I cried heavy, loud sobs. I sat against my headboard alone in my room for hours. I couldn't catch my breath. Of all the things I had to face, of all the hard decisions, and difficult times I knew I had ahead of me, this one paralyzed me.
Bit by bit my fear, anxiety and loneliness faded away.
But I knew I needed to get through it, and it turns out a weekend alone at my house was exactly what I needed. I hadn't done anything like this for over 13 years. I had met friends for a girls' weekend here and there, but never spent time solo in my own home.
I had a girlfriend over and we sipped wine by the fireplace. After she left I watched "50 Shades of Gray" even though I didn't read the books. (OK, that's a lie, I read all three in a week.)
I sprawled out in my bed like a starfish and did not move or wake up all night.
I went for a run. I got a massage then went out for the biggest burger I've ever eaten.
I went shopping and bought a charcoal mask, some nail polish and new heels. I went out for margaritas with my mom and sisters. We sat in the restaurant for hours and picked at nachos, then had heaping bowls of gelato.
And I was okay.
Bit by bit my fear, anxiety and loneliness faded away. It's a good feeling when you realize being alone can bring you more joy than staying with someone you know you shouldn't be with any longer.
It is healing. It is empowering. And I was feeling it all.
I missed my kids and got teary a few times, but this weekend solidified a few things for me: not only am I capable of putting a positive spin on something that terrified me, I was able to find clarity. I knew by Sunday afternoon when my husband brought my happy children home (he looked pretty damn happy, too), this was definitely the right decision for my family and me.
And the next weekend they were with their father, I was even better.
*Editorial note: the writer name is a pseudonym. The mom who wrote this post wishes to remain anonymous.