05/07/2014 11:03 am ET Updated Jul 07, 2014

When It's Time to Say Goodbye

More than a few of us will probably say goodbye to a spouse or two before we are through with our journey in the here and now. We grow and change. They don't. They grow and change. We don't. It is all a matter of perspective and probably the most basic he said/she said kerfuffle of all time, huh?

This whole partnership thing can be so very hard, and so darned confusing and painful. And if we are honest, many of us do it for way too long. We stay and try so very hard. We become heroes in the hardship of hanging in there and holding it all together.

What about that person we so loved and believed in? Where did they go -- these life-partners we've said goodbye to or should have said goodbye to? Where is that man or woman of our dreams who we married with dewy eyes and committed souls?

I find that my love for the man I married is still very much here. The problems came when he became someone else. He failed to live up to my imaginings of who he was in our "we-ness." We had a make-believe, dream-team thing going on. We had fully bought into the cultural imperative of an ideal marriage that would somehow be easily played out in Leave It to Beaver land.

But. I so loved the perfect me that showed up when I was with him -- at least in the beginning. Then that me got tangled and mangled as I tried to live up to an idealized vision of marital unity. The "she" of me and the "he" of him both morphed into less-than's as we fell so very far short of the happily-ever-after "us" we thought we were creating.

I kept hammering away because so much time had been invested. So much history and so many things were wrapped in the two-ness of us. Our love-is-forever partnership had become so much bigger than two hearts beating as one. It now revolved around houses and homes, children and schools, pets and pantries, in-laws and holidays, jobs and vacations. The core of this unit--our relationship of heart and soul -- meandered away and slid off center. I didn't watch it go. I did not really notice at all.

I just got quietly disappointed and then I got heart-tired. Then I got lazy, and then I got a little scared. So, I quieted that fear with all the doings that "do-over living" entails. A lot of discomfort can be quieted by routine and silence -- my silence, his silence and the silencing of that inner voice. You know that one that you just keep slamming the door on? It's that voice you ignore and shut out with family events, television shows and "What's for dinner?"

I got used to it and I settled. I got lulled and dulled and time kept its march. Then one morning I really looked in the mirror and understood that the relationship I was trying to save was quietly killing me. The reflected bounce-back of the "me" in this broken "we" was a sad, lost lady with only my name riding her face.

It was time to turn off routine and put aside the "must-get-dones." It was time to really look at the dance I had been doing for so long. I took some long, deep breaths. I spent some long, deep time in thoughtful fact-looking and deep heart-knowing.

Then, I purposefully walked to the back bedroom closet and pulled my suitcase down from the shelf.

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