When I was in my thirties and early forties, I had a 12-year relationship with a man I deeply loved. I wanted marriage, he didn’t. It was a problem. Then, in year eleven, I somehow managed to convince him to see a therapist with me, to talk about where we were headed.
First, we each went to see Jody, the therapist, by ourselves. Then, together. During that session, we’d barely had our coats off when Jody looked at me and said this: “Leave him. Now. You’re talking about marriage. He’s talking about house repairs and his mother’s birthday. Never speak to him again.”
I felt like I’d been whacked in the back with a crowbar. We both stood there, jaws open, as she told him to leave. And when he did, she said, “Don’t even let him drive you home tonight. Cut off all communication entirely, unless and until he gives you what you want. I don’t think he will, but then you’ll know for sure.”
Exhausted by her brutal honesty and feeling as if I’d been waterboarded by my own tears, I didn’t wind up listening to her that night. I didn’t want to believe any of it, even though I knew in my gut… she was right.
Back then, I ignored my instincts. I didn’t trust them and didn’t want to know what they or anybody had to say. It was simply too easy and too comfortable to keep my head in the sand. Even though I was unhappy in my dead-end situation, watching all my friends get married and have what I so desperately wanted, at least I wasn’t alone. I had somebody.
And, except for his Peter Pan tendencies, he was good. Over the years, I worked hard to make that be enough.
But even though I went home with him that night, I started to ask myself questions. What if…I let go? What would I find on the other side? Would I find the love and commitment I always wanted? Was that even possible? After all, I’d spent years convincing myself it wasn’t. I would read an article in a magazine somewhere on the value of using self-care – of pampering myself with massages and yoga classes because I was worth it. But I also remained numb to the fact that my life wasn’t going in the direction I wanted.
Now, I could see that while self-care was nice in theory—after all, who doesn’t love a good spa day—getting a massage or eating my vegetables was never going to change the fact that I was stuck. And that if I didn’t do something, 12 years could turn quickly and easily into forever. But Jody showed me another way. She forced me to pull up. Take my blinders off and see the truth now poking me in the nose. By compelling me to ask myself what would happen if I let go, she gave me something I had never had before.
Even though I didn’t act as immediately as Jody was compelling me to do, by forcing me to consider a life without him I came to understand that curiosity was freedom. I could picture myself in a different reality, and see myself as belonging to a life other than the one I had. By helping me to find the curiosity I needed to see that I had options, Jody had me practice something other than self-care.
That day I learned the value of self-love.
That day I got on the train to somewhere, and self-love was its fuel. I learned that understanding and loving myself would give me not only the curiosity I needed to see that I had options, but the safety, confidence, and courage I needed to act boldly in letting go for them, as well.
Which is ultimately what I did. I let go of that relationship and the life I’d built around it. Then, I met and married a wonderful man when I was in my forties. And twelve years later, our gloriously imperfect relationship is still going strong. Yet, I could never have gotten any of it if I didn’t go face-to-face with the fact that I was dying on the vine in a relationship going nowhere.
If you find yourself in a similar place, or in a relationship that feels stale, perhaps it’s time to get curious about the possibility in your own world. I’m not saying you need to let go of your relationship like I did, but if it really does feel stale it’s time to get proactive.
Back when I was contemplating my own ailing relationship, the only thing I got proactive about was pizza every night for dinner. And, yes, I packed on ten pounds I didn’t need.
Okay, fine. 15.
But then again, I didn’t have help. The good news is you do.
What I’ve put together for you is a 48-hour relationship detox that, over the course of two short days, you will find the clarity you need to move forward with the life you’re meant to have. It will provide you with a simple framework for getting curious and practicing radical self-love in response.
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Jill Sherer Murray is an award-winning writer and speaker who studies creativity, relationships and self-growth. She is also the founder of Let Go For It®, a lifestyle brand dedicated to helping individuals let go for a better life. Jill’s TEDx talk as well as her advice column, Big Wild Love: Let Go For It® were created in service to her loyal and growing fan base, who seek support in the act and the art of letting go for the love they desire and deserve. Follow Jill @letgoforit on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.