The catalyst for me starting a new blog is the break-up of my 12 year relationship with my good friend and wife. We had previously been writing for www.dutyfreeliving.com and made a good go at blogging, lifestyle design and a new way of living. So rather than getting down into the doldrums about a break-up, I thought I’d write a little bit about it. Since the decision was made to separate, I’ve been documenting my feelings and reactions to the whole process. To date (and prior to moving house), these are the key points:
Shock – For me, this was accompanied by a kind of numbness that meant I wasn’t emotional. In this stage I was very clinical and matter of fact. I did, however, lose my appetite completely and gain a new friend which I call an “Anxiety Ball”. Essentially, this was a terrible tension in the stomach area that wouldn’t allow me to focus on anything else except the issue at hand. Most of this lasted about a week from the decision to separate.
Fear – One of my big fears was about the future. I had not given any thought whatsoever about my direction without my wife and this meant I needed to act quickly to determine what the best course was. The problem was that most options seemed so backward given that I’d recently left a career, a house and relocated to a new city for a new life. My initial reaction was to head back to the safety of what I knew – a full-time job, move back to my old city and try and get some “normality” back into my life. After pondering these thoughts for about a week, I had a revelation and came up with a solution which is not much different from what I was going to do with my wife anyway. It’s just that this solution is more independent than before.
Optimism – Many believe our feelings are beyond our control and that our frame of mind is fixed by our moods. There is some merit in this, but I believe that with strength, we can shift our moods. In times such as these, it would be easy to be pessimistic about the future. It’s the default position for most people, me included, and one in which we feel entitled to. Well, we may well be entitled to pessimism, but wallowing in our own self-pity won’t get us very far. Optimism is king here and I think it’s worthwhile steadfastly sticking with optimism even when it feels good to wallow in self-pity.
So whilst all this sounds terribly depressing, it doesn’t need to be! If we allow ourselves to be slaves to our emotions, we can easily fall into the abyss. So I think the first step is to recognise that significant life changes are all part and parcel of life itself and with significant life change comes discomfort. I say a big, “Hello!” to Mr. Discomfort but, “you can bugger off if you’re going to try and drag me down.”
For many people in relationships that are heading down the Lifestyle Design path, the issue of the relationship itself is quite often off topic. As I move forward, I plan to give more thought to how relationships both enhance and hinder the Lifestyle Design process. Happy to discuss!
3 replies on “Marriage Break-Up: Pre-Moving Out”
I really appreciate your honesty in writing this article. I find myself in a similar situation and hoping to maybe learn from what you’ve gone through.
I ended a 6 year relationship in Jan 2010 and she was my best friend too. One year later I still feel lost and unsure of the future. I felt the same shock, numbness and fear that you described. Unfortunately though, unlike you, I have not been able to move towards optimism. I feel like a huge part of me is missing and I can’t seem to move forward.
Before the breakup we had planned to quit our jobs and travel together. Now, although I still want to travel, my enthusiasm for it is much less. I can’t stand my job but I’m too afraid to quit or change. The courage and energy I had for lifestyle design before is gone. I think I’m now just hanging on to all that is familiar because of the huge change in my personal life. I admire what you’re doing and how you’ve been able to move forward. Any advice on retrieving my optimism, sense of humor and zest for travel that you were able to do yourself?
I’ve been thinking about your question over the past few days and I think I have the answer. It goes something like this. We can be slaves to our moods sometimes and it’s a place that I sometimes feel comfortable in. But we can also be the master of our moods… And I think when we think about certain situations with logic, we can often see that things would be much better if we could just make the effort to be happy or optimistic or whatever mood… For me, I knew that optimism and happiness was the best path and I was determined above all else to make sure that the ending of this relationship was not going to be the end of me, despite a part of me feeling a sense of entitlement to wallow in a pit of misery. So, I chose to wake up every day, no matter how hard that is sometimes, and seize the day. I believed in these lifestyle design and travel philosophies independently of my relationship and I made a concerted effort to pursue them.
This stuff is not easy. I think you really need to make a pact with yourself to move forward and let go. You know it’s the right way to go and if you stay determined, you’ll cone out the other side a better person (a cliche that fits!)
Good luck! It’s a hard road, but it really is just a small section in a much larger and wonderful life that you will live.
Thanks for the thoughtful reply Adam. You’ve provided some really good insight and I appreciate it.
I realize that I have also felt entitled to wallow in self-pity and negativity after what happened. But there’s no challenge in feeling sorry for myself. Giving up is the easy way out. What’s tough is taking care of myself, moving forward and finding that passion in my life again. You’re so right that logically, we should want to make the effort to be happy & optimistic instead of defaulting to misery. Before this happened I often wondered why people chose to be unhappy. Now I know that when things go wrong, it’s not as easy to remain positive as I thought. This is something I continue to work on but I now know that it’s my choice to move forward and let go.
Also, great point about life and travel philosophies being independent of relationships with others. I have to remember that I’m my own person, a person that enjoyed living life to the fullest, travelling and learning about lifestyle design. I think I got so caught up being with someone else and part of a couple for so long that I forget who I was as an individual.
I woke up today feeling more positive and although I know the road ahead is tough, I take solace in that others have faced the same hardships as I and have made it through. Will continue to follow your blog and hopefully our paths may cross when I finally hit the road. Thanks again!