05/20/2014 02:28 pm ET Updated Jul 19, 2014

Stupid and Selfish

When I separated from my husband a few years back, it was a decision that did not come lightly. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out if divorce was the right move. I never thought I would get divorced. I know, not exactly an Earth-shattering statement. I'm pretty sure that no one gets married thinking that they're going to get divorced.

When I made the decision to move out and separate there were two prevailing emotions that I dealt with; I felt stupid and selfish. I even remember people telling me I was those two things.

One of my friends told me I was stupid for leaving the "good life"; a nice house, two cars in the driveway, a comfortable two-income household. She didn't understand that it wasn't about the stuff.

One of my friends called me selfish. She told me that I was a bitch for thinking about myself. She told me I was a horrible person for not staying where I was and honoring my commitment.

One of my co-workers remarked, "Well, at least you're the one that's leaving, it must be easier since it was your decision."

Really insensitive statement!

In some ways it was actually worse for me to be the one who left. I had to deal with the guilt and the shame of being the one who pulled the plug on our marriage. In some ways, I thought it would be easier if he had made the decision. People would feel sorry for me if he left; I could play the victim; I wouldn't have to live with the decision and the subsequent guilt.

I spent a long time feeling stupid and selfish and truth be told, sometimes I still feel that way.

My ex-husband is a great guy. We had the most amicable divorce on the planet. After we went to the lawyer to sign the papers we went out to dinner together and hung out. We've stayed friends over the years, and we even made an attempt to didn't go well.

Although he truly is a wonderful person, I was unhappy. I felt trapped and stuck and lost in a way that I still cannot fully explain. The truth is, he wasn't happy either, but he was not one to rock the boat, so he never said anything.

There have been a lot of great things that have happened in my life as a result of moving out of my marriage. I went back to school and started my journey on a fabulous new path; I've learned to live alone and love it; and above all, I've learned who I really am.

I miss him sometimes, a lot of the time, and I suppose that I always will. There are days when I think I made the biggest mistake of my life by leaving, and days when I'm proud of myself for walking away from something that didn't serve me, or him, any longer.

I suppose I could say the politically-correct thing and say that it was best for him too; that he deserves to be with someone that really wants to be with him; that it will be better for him in the long run. I could say those things, and have said those things, but I think maybe I said them to make myself feel better. I felt like it somehow justified my leaving.

Although a lot of great things have happened to me, one very sad thing has become apparent to me; I'm no happier now than I was then. I realize that the problems in my marriage weren't "us" problems, they were "me" problems. I've learned that happiness is an inside job and that trying to depend on someone else to make me happy is like depending on someone else to help me breathe.

In a way, it was selfish to put that burden on his shoulders. And it was stupid of me to think that was the way it was supposed to be. I had a misguided notion that marriage would "complete me." I believed that once I got married, I'd be disgustingly happy for the rest of my life. I don't know why I thought that; I didn't have very good role models for successful marriage, but like most people, I thought I was different.

I knew the statistics, more than half of marriages end up in divorce, but I kept on with this belief that I was better than everyone else and that my marriage would last.

Today, I don't feel as stupid or as selfish as I did when I first moved out of my marriage. Stupid and selfish have taken a backseat to guilty, sad, and lonely. I find myself thinking about how things used to be and regretting that I didn't stick it out longer. I regret not trying harder, and I regret leaving an entire life behind.

I'm still trying to decide if I made the right decision. I suppose I'll never really know the answer, but I have decided that feeling stupid and selfish no longer serves me and that realization alone has changed my life for the better.