One of my friends recently shared with me how fear kept her in an unhealthy marriage… until now.
Fear is (unfortunately) incredibly powerful.
I had a crippling fear as I looked at my option to either end my marriage or continue on in something that wasn’t healthy for me, but it was known. I knew what I’d get staying with AJ. More of the same.
The unknown is terrifying.
Just the thought of being without “my person” was debilitating.
Even though I said “divorce” on the third day, most of me didn’t mean it. Most of me wanted to undo the events of those three days and stay happy (and unaware). A part of me hoped saying “divorce” would light a fire in AJ and he would fight for me… or at a minimum schedule the counseling he’d been talking about for the last three days. I had hoped it wasn’t quite over… but perhaps that was the fear.
Alas, there was no sense of urgency. No need to keep me.
Is this what I really want to stay in? Sure, I was happy once… I was still madly in love. We had an amazing marriage… until I found out we didn’t. Could my fear really cause me to be so scared of the unknown that I have a preference for this “new” marriage? This marriage that was built on my husband’s lies and infidelity. Did I really prefer to be one of many in my husband’s eyes?
I’d love to tell you that it was an easy decision. I’d love to tell you that I faced that fear and just jumped into the unknown like a badass. I’d love to tell you that I was strong enough to do it on my own. I’d love to tell you in that moment, I recognized my worth and knew I deserved better.
But, that isn’t what happened.
I felt myself giving up. I felt myself thinking, maybe this is all there is… maybe this is what I get. I felt myself believing “his reasons“. I felt myself questioning my worth. I looked around and saw the chaos in my marriage. Perhaps it was my fault…
I was crushed. My soul. My spirit. My value.
Fear continued to push me towards staying. Fear told me I couldn’t do it without him. Fear told me I would never find better. Maybe I wouldn’t find anyone at all. Alone forever, collecting dogs and forgetting to shave my legs. Maybe that’s what awaits me. Or maybe, just maybe, it could be better than I ever thought… but fear quickly eliminated any hope I had for a brighter future.
In an effort to push my fear to the side, I decided to put something in my way. I couldn’t fight this fear alone. I couldn’t fight my urge to stay with AJ by myself.
I called my mom.
I knew the moment I disclosed what was happening in my marriage, she would fight off the fear for me. I needed someone to “carry the team”.
I told her everything. She gave me the punch of energy I needed to hold off the fear (for now). She asked to come out to Cincinnati and stay with me for a bit. Obviously, that would be amazing, but I was still living with AJ and I highly doubt he’d want to share the guest room with my mother.
But that was it. My next road block to stop the fear. My next help. I asked AJ how much time he needed before he moved out. He told me a month and I told him three weeks. I could do this for three weeks… but not a second longer.
My mom booked her plane ticket that day. Exactly three weeks away.
It gave me time to think about the unknown. What was so bad about it? Sure… I might remain alone. But, I started seeing that as a fine situation. I could be alone. It’d be better than giving someone all of me and receiving emptiness in return. Alone could be okay…
Alone didn’t seem as scary as it did before…
Fear began to retreat.
Several people have asked me how I have appeared to move through this process smoothly. First of all, it has been anything but smooth. Secondly, I knew I needed help. After years of having AJ as my rock and my foundation, I felt like I had nothing to hold me up, nothing to stabilize me. That thought paralyzed me with fear. I am incredibly thankful for my family and friends who were able to help me fight off the fear, insecurities and sadness I had (and still have sometimes).
My advice, no matter what your situation is, or what your decision is, surround yourself with people who can lift you up. That makes all the difference in the world.
Fear can’t fight a team.