I had a kind and handsome husband. We lived in a four-bedroom home in a suburban golf community. We had nice cars, took vacations and had a wide circle of friends and loving families. I had a good corporate job with a pension and a 401k. We had one dog and no children.
I had no reason to be unhappy or lonely. But I was.
I met my husband in graduate school at the age of 24 and I knew he wouldn’t lie, cheat, or leave me, as past boyfriends had done. But what I didn’t know then is that there’s very little passion in the safe approach.
My husband and I had love for one another, but we were never lovers. We did not cuddle, caress or lose time together. We never awoke in each other’s arms and we rarely had deep, meaningful conversations. He didn’t require me to share too much of my soul with him, so I could stay safe and hidden, but not necessarily in love.
I became exceptional at leading everyone around me to believe that I had it all together. I had all the things I was supposed to have; I did all the things I was supposed to do. No one knew how lonely I was — not my friends, not my family and not my husband — and hiding that became exhausting.
After 11 years of marriage, I separated from my husband and continued trying to outrun the loneliness. I wasn’t running from the man I married, I was running away from the life I had created, of which he was just an innocent party. I felt both incredible guilt and unbelievable freedom.
Then I began playing with fire. I met Michael through some mutual friends. He was tall, broad-shouldered, very muscular and devilishly handsome. It didn’t take long for us to establish a connection and become caught up in our intense feelings and emotions, quickly falling for one another.
I gave him my heart, my mind and my soul. I had finally come out from behind that wall and allowed someone to really see me — all of my joy and all of my pain, all of my love and all of my insecurities. I had never allowed anyone that far into my heart.
But playing with fire is a predictable activity and not surprisingly, I got burned. Soon after telling me he loved me, Michael began pulling away, seeing other women and making me feel suddenly very unimportant.
Michael had awakened feelings in me that I had never felt before. I was terrified that without him, I would never feel them again. I was afraid of going back to that numb existence that I'd felt when I was married. I was heart-broken and fell into a deep depression. I lost weight, and during the next few months, I had many sleepless nights, crying more tears than I had my entire life.
These experiences were by far the most difficult period of my life, but they were also the catalyst for the most profound change and growth in my life. I finally stopped running and hiding and spent the next two years soul-searching and answering the difficult questions.
As soon as I began to value the love I had to give, I stopped giving it so freely. As soon as I began treating myself and my heart with the tenderness and respect it deserved, others began to do the same. And it was only then that I could have a healthy and authentic relationship — no more hiding.
I am now married to my love, my champion, my rock, Derrick, who is equal parts peace and passion. He makes me the very best version of myself. And he has given me a love that is greater than I knew how to ask for and larger than I ever knew existed.
What I've learned is that when we’re in the process of mourning the death of a relationship, some days we’re doing well to simply survive. And I also know what it feels like to thrive — not just in spite of a break-up, but as a result of what I learned from it.
I discovered that only once we find love within ourselves, through ourselves and for ourselves are we able to attract more real love into our lives.