When it’s time to leave

August 31, 2016

It’s always about love, isn’t it? Almost always.

How lovely it would be if all relationships endured for a lifetime.

Of course, they endure for more than a lifetime, that’s my belief, but sometimes, in this lifetime, a relationship comes to a natural end.

Most of us are reluctant to leave another. Sometimes it’s because we don’t want to be alone. But a lot of the time it’s that we just don’t want to hurt our partner, disappoint them, or break our agreement with them.  Our choices are to be true to ourselves or to perhaps hurt another. Because sometimes, being true to ourselves means another will feel pain.

We must remember that we are meant to be happy. That’s what the Divine wants for us.

For decades the words of story-teller Oriah Mountain Dreamer in her famous poem, The Invitation, stuck in my brain

It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

The idea of being faithless is a tough one for many. But Oriah tells us that she realized that the the most trustworthy people aren’t the ones who always kept their agreements with her.  “Those who can be faithless,” she said, “who can bear the responsibility of breaking an agreement when the alternative is to betray themselves, are trustworthy.”  We aren’t used to thinking that way, are we?

Having the integrity to be true to ourselves can sometimes be hard. Honesty can hurt.  But faking it is harder.  I’ve seen firsthand that integrity is one of the keys to happiness.

So maybe you’ve been in a longterm relationship that lacks sizzle but provides comfortable companionship. The questions you must ask yourself are these: Is companionship enough? Can I live this way the rest of my life and be truly happy? Do I want more?  

But this is the kind of question I sometimes hear: He’s so nice, what’s wrong with me that I can’t be with him?”

I’ll bet you meet a lot of nice men. Do you enter relationships with them all? Is just being nice enough to hold a relationship? While being nice, a kind person, considerate are all wonderful traits, they are not enough to make a relationship for most of us.

What about love?

I can honestly say that I have loved every man I’ve been in relationship with: love has been at the core of “us.”  But it’s not always been romantic love.  Some people are ok with this. But when I was in my early 50s and married to my best friend, I decided I wanted a chance to experience romantic love again, that sizzle that poets write about.  While it was hard to leave my mate because I loved him deeply and didn’t want to hurt him, it would have been harder to have stayed with him. I had to disappoint him so I wouldn’t betray my own soul, as Oriah would say.

I did find love after midlife and it’s been one of the deepest and richest experiences ever. And while I was sad to leave my best friend, he went on to find a wife that was more suited to him and has a life that seems to suit him as well. And not that long after I left, either.

ending-relationshipsSo if you’re on the fence about your relationship and fear disappointing or betraying another, you might want to read Oriah’s book, The Invitation.

Because sometimes, in the process of being true to yourself, to your own soul, you will have to disappoint others.

And that’s not always a bad thing.  Because it’s worse to live a lie.

Here’s one final thing to remember: What comes after goodbye is often a hello — hello to a new adventure.  Because from the rocks of a relationship you’ve left, comes the bud of something new that’s just waiting to flower..


22 comments on “When it’s time to leave
  1. Perri says:

    Beautifully said, Carol. Sometimes, however, it’s fear of personal failure or being subjected to intense brainwashing by a long-term partner that makes a person stay in a relationship too long. In a situation such as this, it can take the fear of losing one’s sense of intelligent life to motivate a person to escape. Fortunately for some, the unexpected exultation of freedom lifts the body, the spirit and the whole self to a new level of happiness. Shedding the burden of repression results in a multitude of life-changing rewards. No matter what the reason is that a relationship stops working or it deprives one person in the partnership of happiness, leaving is not a betrayal. You must be true to yourself. As Kelly Clarkson sings in her song “Stronger,” Don’t think I’m lonely because I’m alone.” I escaped, and I’m living my life as it was intended to be–happy in my heart, mind and soul.

  2. Andrea Bates says:

    A goodbye can certainly lead to a hello. Love that line.

  3. This is a real, and timeless and very painful truth you’ve written about here. But more women should stop seeing the act of being true to themselves as “selfish.” More women should listen to that voice that says, “No, not this one.”

    I know someone who needs to see this post and she will. I appreciate that it was here today.

  4. Nancy says:

    Being true to yourself is everything.

  5. I had been in a relationship for a long time after my marriage ended. And, it was clear to me that while she loved me- her definition of life was different from mine. And, to be honest, we separated two or three times over the more-than-decade period. Until finally, I just had to say goodbye- not that I didn’t love her, not that I wasn’t still ‘in love’ with her, but because my life needed more- way more than I’d obtain- or give- with her.
    Am I sad that it failed? You betcha. Do I miss her? Does a tree have leaves in the summertime? But, in the long run- assuming I still have a long run left in me- this is the best situation.

  6. Annie says:

    Nice post! I broke up with my boyfriend of 5 years because I got bored… Well not exactly bored, more like I didn’t love him in the right sense of the word anymore… We drifted apart and I felt horrible, especially he didn’t seem to notice that anything changed between us…

  7. Carol this is so brilliantly written. It is so hard to leave the comfortable, safe yet unfifilling place for something unknown. From personal experience I can also say falling madly in romantic love at Midlife is possible and it’s fabulous.

  8. sue says:

    It isn’t easy leaving a relationship – guilt, fear, complacency. However, your words are so true Carol. What is the use of being in a relationship where you can’t give your all because you don’t feel it. It is stifling to the relationship and to both partners. Many people celebrate long marriages and hold themselves up as the ‘bar’ however, sometimes I wonder if they are just putting up with their situation. I don’t mean that they don’t love and care for each other but the passion has gone and life has become too comfortable to leave. Sometimes I see longterm partners who don’t even speak nicely to each other – why put up with that!

  9. Elizabeth O. says:

    Honestly, life is too short to not live for yourself and what you truly want in life. It would be difficult to live for other people and never be happy about it. It’s not about disappointing them, I think they’ll be more disappointed if they found out that you’ve been pretending to love them all this time.

  10. Silly Mummy says:

    Well put. It’s easy to stick with the status quo because the unknown is frightening, but you could be missing out on being happier.

  11. I love the line, “What comes after goodbye is often a hello.” That is such an empowering thought.

  12. Nikki Wayne says:

    Goodbye doesn’t always mean bye. Sometimes, we should say goodbye even if it is hurting.

  13. That has been one of my favourite poems for years now. Even did a seminar around it. You are very right about relationships…I am single at mid life and will stay that way unless or until I find someone who is the companion described in the poem.

  14. Laurie Oien says:

    It isn’t easy accepting all that was said here and in the comments, but it really spoke to me. This is something that’s been gnawing at me for quite some time. Thanks Carol!

  15. candy says:

    Relationships change, people change, interests change. It is called life.

  16. lisa thomson says:

    This is such a beautiful post. I’m so happy for you that you’ve found true love. We all deserve that. I really believe in your message and we must be kindred spirits! I just popped over from Round & Round Rosie’s site. My first visit here. Always nice to discover your blog!

  17. Nicole Herose Cochingco - Escat says:

    I love this post. I am so glad you will be able to move on and find the love of your life.

  18. Lisa Rios says:

    Such a beautiful article on how relationships could change and how they make a huge impact in your life. And I very much agree that a good bye does not always means bye and you can still turn it to a new start to your relationship with a hello. After all life is too short to hate anyone!

  19. Rosemond says:

    So bravely put, and a refreshing way to look at honoring commitments. I know so many who feel trapped in a bad or just OK relationship. It is truly courageous to leave one that’s not terrible.

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