Monday, January 22, 2007

Stuck

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Why am I stuck? What is preventing me from getting off the fence and making a definitive decision, and moving forward in some direction? I think I’m starting to develop some answers. However, I’m not so much liking the answers, and I find myself fighting against them which I believe is what I’ve been doing all along just without realizing it.

Doing what is right is not always easy. I almost always look for, and choose, the easy way out of things. Choosing the easy path rather than the right path is not the answer for long term happiness. I have spent most of my adult life choosing the easy path. Hence I find myself in the mess I’ve made for myself. Had I been faithful to following the right path rather than the easy path, my life could have been much different. Truth be told, following the “easy” path has, in many ways, made my life more difficult than was necessary. Many times in life I have failed to make any choice at all which in and of itself makes the choice for me.

I just let life flow past me as I wait for. . . what? What am I waiting for? A lot of it is certainty. I want to know for sure that I’m making the right choice. I don’t want to look back and see another wrong choice made so I put off making choices for fear of making the wrong one. Fear is a big factor, not only fear of making a bad choice, but fear of the unknown. Again I’m looking for certainty. I want to know for sure how it’s going to turn out before I make the choice. But guess what? There are no guarantees in life, no way to know for sure how things will turn out. So I wait, wait to make the choice until there is no longer a choice to be made because the opportunity has passed, and others have made their own choices, and I am left to deal with the consequences of others’ choices so that I can have someone else to blame when things turn out poorly.

So here are the questions I need to answer for myself before I make that big choice to leave W permanently, or to stay with him:
1. How much risk am I willing to take that N will be negatively impacted by the divorce vs. the negative impact of staying with parents who have a strained relationship?
2. How much risk am I willing to take that I may regret not staying with W and caring for him for the remainder of his life?
3. How much risk am I willing to take that I may regret not pursuing my own happiness by staying with W?
4. Will I be able to live with my conscience if I abandon a man who professes to love me and need me?
5. Would I be willing to leave W if I did not have someone else to turn to, if the choice were between being with W or being alone?
6. How willing am I to work on reconciliation with W?
7. How willing am I to accept that life with W would mean choosing to be celibate or choosing to continue with clandestine affairs?
8. Given that I have seen W making efforts to improve how he deals with N, am I willing to risk that relationship to pursue my own happiness?
9. Can I make the choice to stay without continuing to agonize over it, question it, have this same crisis in my head repeatedly?

I see one choice that I could make, to leave W, as a selfish one. It would be a choice that I feel like would be saying my happiness comes before all others, and to hell with the impact it has on other people. I see the other choice that I could make, to stay with W, as a selfless one. It would be a choice that I feel like would be saying that I value other things more than my own happiness. It would say that I value the vows that I took, that I really do take seriously the commitments I make. As I write this I realize it all comes back to seeing one choice as bad and wrong even though it is what I really want to do and the other choice as good and right even though it brings tears to my eyes when I consider resigning myself to it. Which choice can I live with?

11 comments:

Amy Elle said...

I understand some of that post more than I care to admit or deal with, except the celibacy.

Finished Last said...

Staying isn't in itself "selfless" and leaving is not in itself "selfish". As an ardent follower of the easy path I realize that there are consequences to ease that may be worse than the rough edges of the tough choice. Hugs and please know you're not alone

Val said...

I really don't have anything profound to say in reply to your very profound post!
Meditation? Prayer?? I don't pretend to have the answers, but I think you do in your own heart.

Fiona said...

6. How willing am I to work on reconciliation with W?

And more to the point, TS, as you did seem to be trying hard with W, is.....

How willing is W to work on a reconciliation with you...and will he ever give you what you want and need to be happy?

Whatever your decision, it is yours...and I guess staying may be the 'easier' one because it's one you can change later if you choose...but once you leave...well, you've left.

I hope things work out for you, TS, I know how hard it is to take that step away.

Karin's Korner said...

I agree with Fiona TS, the decision is yours alone. The question is Can you be happy with W? What about counseling, is that a possibility? I don't think that either one of you is happy, he can't possibly be happy right now the way your relationship is. And what about N? How is he now that W is treating him "better"? W should treat his as a SON, Is W treating him better because that is one of the reasons that you are leaving? Is he going to stop treating N "better" if you decide to stay? Just food for thought. You know you can call me or e-mail me anytime. I have been there.

freebird said...

I think FL has it exactly. It's not that cut-and-dried. You may say that leaving is selfish, but from your recent posts I think you would be struggling with your conscience for a long time - would you be comfortable living with that? You would also have some hardship on a material and practical level, as you've mentioned in the past. You describe staying as selfless, but you've said that it's easier to stay than leave, so does that mean that it's more acceptable, more comfortable, more livable-with?
Please believe that I'm not trying to persuade you either way - I'm probably muddying the water even more! But I think your most important point is No.9. I'd like to know how to do that! And I think you could apply it to staying OR leaving - either decision.

I wonder if you look at me and see yourself in 10 years' time.

trueself said...

Amy Elle - I wasn't quite sure anyone would understand it. I'm not sure whether to be glad you did or sorry you did.

FL - Interesting perspective. I tend to be such an all-or-nothing black-or-white type that I rarely see things as gray though truth be told a lot in life is gray.

Val - Profound? Me? Hardly. And knowing in my heart the right thing to do? Maybe, and maybe that's what I'm afraid of.

Fiona - For a long time I did try hard. And then I stopped. And that's when W was finally ready to start trying. So now I feel bad that I am no longer trying and not even willing to try. And as I type these words I realize how similar they sound to those of someone in an abusive situation where the abuser begs forgiveness, promises to change, but never does. W has never abused me though. Hmmm. . .

KK - So many questions, and very good ones at that. Can I be happy with W? Probably not, but I'm not sure that my happiness needs to be the top criteria for the decision when the decision impacts a lot more people than me. Counseling? Yes, we are in the midst of counseling. How about N? N is happier now that W treats him better. I think W is treating him better to keep me from leaving. I do not think that he sees anything wrong in his prior behavior, but has made changes to try to keep peace with me. I guess I fear some that if I leave, he will return to his old ways when he has N for visits, but that maybe if I stay he will continue to improve his relationship with N.

FB - At this point I don't think I'll be 100% comfortable with staying or going. Either way I will struggle with my conscience. Have I said it would be easier to stay than leave? Hmm, when writing this post I was thinking that the "easy" route was to leave and start fresh, and the "hard" route was to stay and struggle through the hard times of this marriage. Hmm. . . And yes, No. 9 could definitely apply to either choice. Sometimes I look at you and see myself in a few years, and I wonder if I will be in the same place or different.

FATSO said...

I feel your pain....big time. Sometimes it's braver to carry on and enjoy the benefits of the long-distance relationship. And i really don't think there is a single "right" answer. You'll get lots of people moralizing, but it just isn't that straightforward.

Especially when #4 is factored in. And it is complicated with the kids and geography and everything...i think your situation is far more common than many of us would dare to admit to.

Emily said...

I think the same as Freebird - in some ways, its not really clear which choice is the "right" or "hard" choice. For instance, leaving W may seem easier and more what is wanted, but it also involves learning to be more independent, which seems to be scaring you. I generally have a bias towards people who have children together staying together if possible, but even that view doesn't make it clear to me what you should do.

I hate to be a cop out, but I am wondering if either of these choices is really your big choice? I mean, I for one see issues around whether you are going to learn to *make* the tough choices, not run away from them, not let others make them for you, and also learn to see more of the good in yourself, etc as being your big issues rather than necessarily which man you end up with.

Choosing either man has consequences, good and potentially bad. But either way, you are always going to have to live with yourself. And maybe it's YOU that you need to learn how to be with.

mia said...

TS, do what's best for you first. You will never be happy if you keep putting other people's needs before your own. I'm not saying to be a total selfish bitch because you aren't that way and never could be. But I think you should do something that is good for you first. You can't be a good mom if you are miserable. W had his chance, and now you should put yourself first. N will understand when he grows up. Heck, lots of kids understand things we don't think they do. Not every kid with divorced parents is traumatized beyond repair. It's better to have N's biggest example of how to me in a marriage not be you and W. Do you want N to have to go through what you are going through now? I can tell you from experience that my parents should have divorced years ago and that my siblings and I would have been much better off if they had.

Find a way to make yourself whole and happy again. That's the best thing you could ever do for N.

trueself said...

Fatso - There is no right answer. That's what makes it so hard I guess.

Emily - As usual, you are very perceptive. Yes, I probably need to learn how to live with ME. Yep. I need to like myself first, and I can't remember back far enough to remember a time when I liked myself.

Mia - Find a way to make yourself whole and happy again. That's the best thing you could ever do for N. Good advice. Thank you.