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Dr. Andra Brosh  Headshot

How I Went From Knot to Noose

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When I first got separated, my ex and I made a pact (or at least I thought we did) that neither of us would remarry. Not because we thought we would ever get back together, but because we both believed that we would never find someone to replace the other. We mutually agreed that no one could ever be "family," and that we would always know that we had each other's backs no matter what.

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You have to realize that he and I basically grew up together. We met in college and were together for more than half our lives, so it wasn't far off the mark to presume that we were kind of stuck with each other in the same way you remain attached to family.

I know you're probably thinking that this is ridiculously juvenile, and delusional, but it worked for us... until last week when he told me he had proposed to his girlfriend.

His announcement about his engagement felt like a second betrayal. First he had promised to be married to me forever, and then ultimately changed his mind. Now he had promised to marry someone else in spite of the pledge he had made to me to never remarry.

The truth is that I only have myself to blame. I went from a married life that was founded on the fantasy of forever to a post marital life that was based on an illusion. I bought into a whole new set of promises that ultimately got broken... again (hit forehead here).

The main difference this time around is that my heart is not broken along with the promise. Yes there was a sting when I got the news, but it was accompanied by a huge sense of relief. I realized that I had been keeping myself hitched to my ex with a different kind of knot than we had tied the first time.

I believe there are as many ways to be connected to another person as there are types of knots. Sometimes these ties are obvious and clear, and at other times they're more subconscious and out of awareness.

I have come to realize that my most recent situation was an unconscious tethering that was less like a knot, and more like a noose.

Staying connected to my ex in this way offered me an illusory sense of security in the world, and it allowed me to maintain a sense of hope when it seemed like the alternative was despair. The relationship was a safety net for when I might slip and fall in life, and it prevented me from having to depend solely on myself.

This agreement made us both feel like we were going to be okay. He got to feel less guilty, and I got to feel less scared. It worked until it couldn't work anymore.

Yes, I will admit that I kind of hung myself here. I don't really have any excuses other than I obviously have some more work to do when it comes to love, trust and maintaining a strong foothold on reality.

I share this with you not to garner any pity (and I certainly don't need any more judgment), but to show you that even the most educated, aware and mindful people can fall prey to the idea of everlasting love.

I think there are many of us out there who never really wanted things to end, but were forced to go on living a life that feels altered and somewhat uncomfortable. I have to presume that this was my attempt to hang onto a small piece of my life that was wrestled from my arms before I was ready to give it up.

I see this as a final snip of the rope that had kept me moored to a life that was no longer mine, and I am filled with a sense of relief to be free of a commitment that no longer serves me.

To that I say, bon voyage.