By Elle Mason, artwork by Carrie Kaplan
I got a text from a friend today asking for help. She and her husband of more than twenty years have decided to end their marriage and he has very rapidly taken up with a new woman. Predictably, she is younger. Predictably, he is engaging in activities and actions with her that he was unwilling to do with my friend, his wife. He is beginning to introduce her to the children. To my friend it looks and feels as if this woman is slipping into the fabric of her recently vacated life, still warm from her attempts to save it. Repair it. Make it work.
This was her home, her family, her life. Once her greatest ally and the guardian of her heart, her husband has turned cold towards her, choosing not to see her tears. As much as she knows their relationship is and should be over, she still cannot bear the pain this ending has wrought upon her heart. Perhaps she expected him to wait until it was official. Perhaps she expected him to fight harder to save their relationship rather than to turn away from it so easily. Perhaps his lack of pause or pain is unbearable evidence of how little she had meant to him. Her mind is tortured with these thoughts as she navigates this ending.
Her text came at a moment of weakness. She was contemplating asking him to take her back. Anything to escape the gnawing pain gripping her at this moment. She desperately wants a lifeline out of this wretched despair. Anything, even going back to him, would be worth not feeling this.
She cannot yet see a future without him. It stretches empty and uncertain before her. She is wavering. Her first tentative steps taken towards her new beginning are like being pushed towards the edge of a cliff and being forced to jump without knowing what lies below. She has no choice as she runs out of ground and the vastness of the void looms before her.
She doesn’t trust it yet. She trembles on the edge, pushing back against the force that drives her towards it. The moment right before she falls is the most terrifying. She can see it coming. On the ledge of her old life, she still feels some tenuous safety. Maybe she won’t have to jump? Maybe she can talk her way back onto the ledge and avoid the fall. Fear grips her. She is teetering on the edge. Maybe she should just turn back and accept all of the things that brought her to this place?
I can see her there. I can feel her pain. I see her indecision, her fear of the unknown. What if no one ever loves me again? What if I am alone? Can I do this on my own? Am I doing the right thing? Is it worth it? These questions are in her tear-worn eyes as she stares over the edge.
I want to call to her, “Jump! Jump into your future.” I want to tell her how beautiful she is, how strong she is. I want her to allow herself to find the love and joy that I know she deserves and that I know awaits her. Let go of the edge… let go of that life. Let him go towards his future but don’t follow him. Create your own, on your terms. Turn your eyes forward and have faith that there is a place for you there free of pain and loneliness.
You are not standing on that edge alone. All of your friends and family are beside you and ready to take that leap with you. We’ll help cushion the fall. We are coming with you on this journey and we can’t wait to discover your new life with you. Our hearts have plenty of space for you and our ears are yours to bend. You will always belong with us and our love won’t leave you.
Grab our hands my friend. We are here.