Would you ever take him back? It’s a question I get asked a lot.
My marriage meant everything to me, as did my husband. I loved him so deeply and couldn’t even bear to think of a world without him. I know, without any doubt in my mind, I loved him so much that I would have given my life for his in an instant.
So, would I take him back? I almost can’t believe it myself that I am writing this but my answer is, no.
Recently, I was in a situation where I came face to face with him again. But, this encounter unfolded into the moment I had dreamt about, no obsessed over, for many months as I heard the words fall from his lips, “I regret it.”
There he was standing in front of me, saying the words I had longed to hear. But as I listened to him, I withdrew into myself. This didn’t feel anything like what I had expected it to. I had prepared myself for what I would say, how I would act. I thought I would feel elated. I thought I would feel validated. In reality, all I felt was pure fear.
Why did I feel this fear?
I was fearful of two things; taking him back and not taking him back.
I have had a lot of time to think about the life I would lead if I did and the life I would lead if I didn’t. It’s tempting to think about picking up where we left off, it would halt the grief of the loss of my marriage, it would mean my hopes and dreams for the marriage still had a chance and ultimately, I wouldn’t be alone. What if I end up totally alone?
But what if I had actually taken him back? What would it be at the expense of? For me, I know it would mean that I would lose something of who I am, my value, my self-worth. I don’t think I would ever truly find peace in a situation knowing, not only that the one I love could betray me in such a profound way but also, that he could carry out the persistent cruelty that he did in the months that followed. Sometimes you can see so much cruelty in someone that it suffocates any goodness that was once there. We simply cannot un-see what we have seen.
To be perfectly honest, even then, standing in front of him, I didn’t feel like I was seeing true depth in his expression of regret or real fight in his attempt to win me back. In the early days, in spite of the cruelness, I was desperate for him to come back and he knew that. I think the strength and independence I have grown into since concern him.
Throughout this year, I have developed quite the internal radar system for spotting when my husband is trying to manipulate and control me. So why was it, when he was sobbing in front of me, listing his regrets, trying to claw back some of the man I had loved, that my radar was still picking up those undercurrents of manipulation and control.
I decided to say, no.
In saying no, I am daring to step out into the wide unknown.
Ultimately this is a decision that is fraught with unknowns, whatever we choose. It is also a decision that we have to live with.
Sometimes, we can feel so frightened about the unknown that we cling onto what we have known. Even if the ‘known’ is hurting us.
It’s like hanging on for dear life to a line of barbed wire. It’s cutting into our skin, piercing our hands, making them bleed, shredding at our flesh but if we let go we are plunged into the unknown. So we cling on.
Sometimes we can feel it’s better to hang on than to let go and, let’s face it, possibly end up alone. Something is better than nothing…right? It can also be so hard to let go of something that we love, something that is so precious to us. We will do anything to avoid that grief and loss.
Sometimes, perhaps we feel we deserve no better than the treatment we are receiving. Maybe we feel that there is simply no other option but to hold firm. In letting go, we are daring to imagine the love that we deserve. A love that respects us, that doesn’t control us, that doesn’t mistreat us and doesn’t cheat on us. Our decision directly impacts our self-worth and our self worth directly impacts our decision.
And sometimes we know that the wounds simply cannot heal if we cling onto that barbed wire any longer, that the wire will keep those wounds fresh and open. It can seem a lose lose situation. While we cling onto a love that hurts us, there is a chance that we may never heal, as this hurt can be persistent, like that unforgiving barbed wire in our skin.
If we let go, we give ourselves a fighting chance for those wounds to heal. We also open ourselves up to the possibility of a future love that is true and worthy of us.
What is it that ultimately makes us hold firm to the wire that hurts us? Fear, maybe. I have decided to let go and fall into the unknown. I have decided to trust. To trust in the fact that I deserve to someday find a love that deserves me. To trust that there is a love out there that won’t want to hurt me in a million years. To trust that there is a plan for me beyond this situation. To trust that I am worth so much more than this.
Letting go is always one of the hardest things to possibly do but it must be weighed against one important question, at what expense am I hanging on?