A couple weeks ago in We Can Do Hard Things I said uprooting your life is really hard.
What I didn’t say was how to make it easier. Why? Because I hadn’t figured it out yet. I’d recently decided to separate from my husband and was planning to another long road trip. I was distracted.
Now that I’ve made the most painful, difficult decision of my life—and I just drove back to the other side of Canada—I’m learning how to do harder things than I’ve ever done before.
Here are the three most important things I’ve learned in the past few weeks.
1. Do yourself a favor
Be honest with yourself. Suppressing the truth isn’t just hard on your spirit and soul, it wreaks havoc on your immune system, blood pressure and heart rate. Researchers who measure the negative impact of lying on your body say even the littlest “white lies” hurt.
The big lies hurt you more than anything. Are you hiding an unhappy marriage, sexually confused teenager, alcoholic sibling or abusive grandparent? Sometimes we don’t even know we’re lying because we can’t face the truth. We can’t admit it to ourselves, and definitely not to others.
Let the truth rise to the surface. You don’t have to tell anyone yet. In fact, it may be better not to confide too early. I prefer writing my truth in my private journal—especially if it’s something I can barely admit to myself—because I don’t want to be swayed by others’ opinions.
Telling yourself the truth is the hardest, best thing you can do for yourself. Just sit with it. The pain eventually subsides…especially if you let God’s still small voice filter through the cracks.
2. Allow yourself to change your mind
After I finally faced the truth about my unhappy marriage, I slowly realized I didn’t have to live this way forever. I could actually do something about it. I didn’t have to grit my teeth and work through it because “God hates divorce” and “until death do us part.” I was shocked.
It was a long, slow, painful process. I made it harder on myself because I didn’t know that I can change my mind. I’m an adult, and few decisions are final. Any path can change. I can arrive at a destination and realize it’s not right, good, or healthy for me or for the place. And that’s okay. Nothing is forever.
In my situation, it made more sense to separate from my husband, rediscover myself, and give him time to re-evaluate his life. Maybe my mind will change, maybe not. Maybe his mind will change, maybe not. Who knows what the future holds?
3. Hold the future loosely
Last month, when I returned to Vancouver from a four-month road trip across Canada, I knew I couldn’t go back to the way things were. A month later I re-packed Ruby and re-hit the road. Now I’m in Fredericton, New Brunswick. I’m looking for an apartment to rent for the winter.
I’m definitely in the “hold the future loosely” stage. I don’t know where I’ll live, how the separation will unfold, or who my new friends will be. But I do know that even though this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’d rather face difficult challenges and be free than have an easy life and be unhappy.
Are you doing something hard? Congratulations! You’ll look back on this season, you’ll wonder how you survived, and you’ll be amazed at your resilience. You may even be grateful because you trusted the still small voice—which you learned was whispering the whole time.
With love from New Brunswick,
I am encouraged hearing and reading about your journey. Thank you for your heart-deep sharing. It’s been inspiring to me as I’m going thru a valley myself right now. Grief is a complex emotion and helps to hear other stories. I find the healing process and stories to be so uplifting. Even when a decision is excruciatingly difficult, that doesn’t make it wrong.
I look forward to holding space for you. Grieving the gap along with you dear one. Sunshine and Peace ☮️ out.
How do you leave a good marriage that has become lonely and volatile. How do I go on living. I’m 67, alone, no kids, no money. He has a career, big family and friends.
I feel hopeless.
I hear you! I understand that hopeless, helpless feeling. It’s a very painful, difficult place to be. Struggling to make a decision is hard – and so is living with whatever decision you make.
What helped me was lots of writing and meditating, until I knew what I had to do. Then I broke down my goal into small steps, and just did one at a time. It was really hard – it still is – but that’s all I did.
One thing I haven’t done yet, which I’d really like to do, is find a support group. I think it’s crucial to find people to talk to. Not people who give you advice, but people who help you find the answers within yourself.
You’re welcome to share your story and thoughts on any of my blog posts. I can’t always respond and don’t offer advice, but I read every comment. More importantly, everything you write helps you move forward in some way. Writing clarifies our thoughts and helps us process our emotions.
How can I enjoy being alone? It sounds like you found the answer and I am still looking. I am a widow of 11 years and still don’t have it together. Any advice is appreciated.
I’m sorry you’re still suffering from your husband’s death, JoAnn. It’s not easy to move on, and sometimes it gets harder if we stay “stuck” for too long.
What worked – and works – for me is coming back to my true nature. The deep well, the spark of life deep within me. It’s been called a million different things: Spirit, presence, divine love, God, Jesus, the still small voice…the name isn’t as important as the feeling of presence, of not being alone in this world.
People come to their “true nature” – that holy sense of being – in different ways. I no longer believe there is only one right path to God or that eternal consciousness. In fact, I never could really believe it. God is so huge, vast, incomprehensible and mysterious! How can our little human brains pinpoint the exact right path to the eternal being, the Creator?
So, JoAnn, I guess my advice is to find your way within. I’ve been descending deeper and deeper with spiritual teachers such as Richard Rohr and Byron Katie.
What brings you alive? If your husband was the sole meaning of your life, you may want to look at that. How can one man be everything to you? This is something worth exploring, I think.
Again, I’m sorry you’re struggling. Eleven years is a long time to suffer. Too long.