In November of last year, I left my home in Portland Oregon. When we first moved into that house, I cried because I loved it so much. We had lived in a 1950 ranch house before, and this house was brand new construction in a good neighborhood. My daughter was 8, and I was excited for her to have a nice home to grow up in. I had visions of all the beautiful memories we would create there. I never dreamed that a little over 10 years later I would be running out of that same house with just 4 suitcases with me and jumping on a plane to get away.
It was dark out the morning I left. As the front door closed behind me and I got in the car, I took one last look at the house that I knew I would never enter again. I cried all the way to the airport; tears of frustration and sadness. Also a release of all of the pent up anguish I had held inside for so long.
I loved that house, but somewhere along the way it became a place I didn’t want to be. I spent hours at the gym, with friends, going shopping, at bookstores, basically anything but entering that house and feeling the disconnect between my husband and I. I tried to make things better by painting the house, creating a meditation garden, and moving the furniture around. I had housecleaners and landscapers so I didn’t have to do anything. But no matter how many improvements were done, or changes were made it didn’t stop the disconnected and frustrated feeling that I felt inside. I knew deep down, I needed something different.
I had always loved Los Angeles, but didn’t think there was any real possibility to live here. But, it was after a beach trip with my husband where we had argued and I felt once again, completely misunderstood, that I looked at the internal job offerings at my finance job and saw that I could transfer to Los Angeles with my current job. It was a small light at the end of a long and dark tunnel. But I could make the change if I found the courage to do it. I could go.
From there I took one day and one interview at a time. And with every piece of positive feedback I received, all of the hope and ‘want’ that I had buried inside of me for the past few years came welling up inside of me. I had brushed my needs under the rug so that I could continue living the life I was living. But when there was a real possibility that I could get what I wanted, all those feelings came out of hiding. I could get away from feeling bad for no reason, I could get away from being misunderstood, I could get away from life being so hard every day. I could start a new life. I could begin again.
After 2 months of interviews, I was told that the job was mine if I wanted it. I was in disbelief. I had to find a place to live, I was going to move out of my house and go and live in Los Angeles. It was happening. I made it happen like I did all things in my life at that time, slightly under the radar and keeping my thoughts mostly to myself. I found a place to live and told my husband that I was starting my new job on November 1st.
But to my surprise he didn’t fight for me to stay or fight to come with me. He just let me go. He watched me walk out the door and out of his life. He stayed and sold the house and rented an apartment for himself. It made me angry that after all the anguish and suffering I had endured, he just let me walk away. I wanted him to fight for me. I wanted all of my sacrifices and ‘excuse making’ that I had done to mean something. I thought I was showing my loyalty and devotion by giving up my needs, and that he saw that. I thought he would eventually realize how much I loved him and he would love me back again. But now I just felt stupid for all of the times I tried so hard to keep us together. He didn’t want to be in our relationship anymore, I knew that for a long time but didn’t want to accept it. And I started to wonder when exactly he had stopped loving me.
I cried a lot when I first got here. For my marriage, but also for my family. It had always been the 3 of us, my husband, my daughter and I. It broke my heart that we were all now living in separate cities. I was happy in my new surroundings but had a rollercoaster of emotions of being so happy to be away and on my own in Los Angeles, and in disbelief that my marriage was over, and my family was broken apart.
I blamed my husband for a long time. But I see my part now. I wasn’t getting my needs met, and it was very apparent I wasn’t going to get them met, but I stayed. I felt so unworthy that I allowed myself not to be heard or cared about. I compartmentalized my life, and I tried to be ok with it, making excuses that it was for the ‘family’. But I was resentful and angry inside. I had become what I never wanted to be. A bitter woman in a bad marriage. I started to hate myself for being that person. I tried so many different ways to shake that feeling, but I realized that the only way to truly shake it was to leave.
Did I waste time? I don’t know the answer to that question because I don’t know what would have happened if I left earlier. Maybe I would have progressed and felt better about myself, or maybe I would have met someone similar and just had the same relationship with a new person. I don’t know, and I will never know. But, what I do know is that I have to forgive myself. I have to take responsibility for the fact that I didn’t value myself enough to walk away sooner. That hurts. That hurts more than someone else not valuing me. I am ashamed of that. I have to work through the shame and guilt of being someone that I never wanted to be, but that I allowed myself to be.
That is why this time is a gift to me. It is the alone time I need to work through my feelings of shame and unworthiness. It is a slow process of becoming ok with me, and taking care of myself. I feel very fortunate to have good friends in my life to talk to, and to have the ocean nearby that always grounds me. I wonder what the next few weeks, or possibly months of quarantine will bring for me. I wonder who I will be when I emerge. I hope that I am able to let go of the shame and guilt of my past and move forward with gratitude and love. I hope that I will learn to value myself enough to never compromise my needs and my voice again. That is up to no one else but me. I know that now.