A few weeks ago a client of mine called in tears, revealing she’d just discovered her boyfriend/soon-to-be fiancé, had been cheating on her. I listened closely, pouring love through the phone as I shared her pain. And then she said, after a good nose blow, “And you know what Jamie, I knew it.”
“You knew he was cheating?!?” I exclaimed.
“No, though there were definitely signs I ignored,” she said slowly. “I knew deep down he wasn’t the one for me but I just kept telling myself I was supposed to be with him.”
She went on to explain her unhappiness over the last 4 years. She detailed his habitual pulling away, his belittling comments, and her constant desire for more connection and deeper intimacy.
“I kept telling myself that my dissatisfaction was helping me grow; that somewhere there was a lesson to learn. I spent so many nights searching for gratitude; just one thing to be grateful for in our relationship and often I could only come up with, ‘No relationship is perfect and really, it’s not THAT bad. He loves to cook and makes a good living. It could be so much worse.’ And yet even that left me with a sick feeling in my gut. My body knew and I just couldn’t face the truth.”
Oh how common this is: Brilliant women ignoring what their body knows for fear of the truth. They stay in toxic relationships, unfulfilling careers, and lackluster friendships under the guise of growth, thinking they’re learning something through their struggle.
Crazy thing is, the actual growth is listening to your body, trusting her, speaking your truth and getting out. That’s the lesson that needs learning.
We’ve all done this. I too thought my unhappiness in my marriage was a sign of something I needed to learn within the marriage. We are women with incredible capacity who are used to working hard. We get off on it. And so we stay in unsatisfying relationships being more comfortable with struggle than with ease and joy. In fact, ease and joy can be terrifying, especially if our motto is, “if it’s not hard it’s not worth it.” When struggle is a badge of honor it’s all too easy to justify staying in unhealthy relationships as much needed “lessons” to help us change and grow.
Don’t get me wrong. Recognizing, interpreting, and voicing the truth that lives within your body is not easy either. It takes major ovaries to trust yourself and, as I see it, is one of the toughest lessons to learn.
The good thing is, we know you’re tough. You’ve shown it by staying in an unsatisfying relationship for years hoping that in honor of your struggle, some sort of golden insight will appear to guide your relationship to the perfect love promise land.
Here’s the deal. You know it’s time to go when you hear yourself saying:
“This is teaching me a lesson.”
“My pain is helping me grow.”
“It’s not that bad.”
“But our relationship has such potential.”
No honey, it’s the wisdom within you that has the potential, not the relationship.
The lesson you are now meant to learn is to trust the tight, fluttering ball in the pit of your stomach that tells you that, no matter what your old stories of loneliness and abandonment say, it’s just not right.
Be gentle with yourself through this process. Recognizing the wisdom in your body to voice the truth inside takes time and patience.
The good thing, is you don’t have to tough it out in your relationship any longer. That lesson has been learned. It’s time to ease into this new one.