Work. Home. Family. Friends. Money. Church. Career. Lovers. At times, life gets challenging.
Some of these can cause pressure that will hurt us deeply. When combined, they’ll overwhelm and consume us. The questions I often ask are: Are we holding onto too many things? Does pride keep us hanging on when it’s clear we should release something and just let go?
This week I met two very different women, each stuck in dead-end marriages. Both of them know the deal. Their relationships have exhausted themselves. The fire is gone. One has little children and the other has adult offspring. While their ages and situations are different, their stories aren’t dissimilar or unique. The first woman has an always-absent husband who loves his beer more than his family. The other has a love affair with his couch. They’re unhappy ladies and they know their spouses aren’t going to change. When I asked them about leaving their loveless, soul-sucking marriages, a resounding no came back.
As I said, there’s nothing unique to be found here.
The two answers came with the words many of us use when confronted with these questions. One is children, the other is money. They are prepared to stay together for the kids or because they can’t afford to split up. They are powerful reasons to not end a marriage. And, if it’s required, they can become perfect excuses too.
Excuses often cover up something else that’s greater than children or loneliness. Here’s a comprehensive list of the things those excuses can hide.
The fear of being alone consumes many of us. And then there is the fear of failure, conceding defeat, of what people will think, losing order, routine, identity, children, property, family, friends, etc — bolstering the fear of being alone. So we’d prefer to live in agony with someone we despise than be alone and lost. We’ll choose to stay than risk going. We just can’t let go.
Both of these ladies could opt out of their marriages but the fear of not knowing the outcome of making that choice stops them. From the marriage’s perspective, it’s a cold world outside it. The routine of ongoing pain looks comparatively friendly and warm. In many ways, they’ve sold their souls to fear. That’s a worse place to be because if they’re prepared to sell their soul, someone else knows they’ll be prepared to make a deal with their dignity too.
Woman number one could leave her husband and things wouldn’t change. She doesn’t know it, but she’s already raising her children alone. The father figure she wants for her kids lives only in her imagination. The one that comes home is someone else.
Woman number two is almost prepared to take a baseball bat to her husband (her words). A fresh start in a new environment is what she needs — and is better than another one that begins behind bars. These women are already alone. They just haven’t made the break to complete it. Fear stops them.
It’s fear’s accomplice. In these modern times, we need it to survive. It gives us the things we need to make our life complete — but it also binds us. It traps us. In time, we’ll exchange our mind, body and soul for more of it. If we don’t watch out and learn to let go of some things, we will succumb to all of them. While we’re acquiring the happiness we think we need, we can easily find ourselves feeling empty and unfulfilled. Instead, we will sell pieces of our mind, body and soul for brief glimpses of sunshine — always to return to the darkness afterwards. That’s a hard way to live. And it’s quite sad.
Work. Home. Family. Church. Friends. Lovers. Life. At times, we need to let go of something to free ourselves from fear and/or money.
Which one (or part thereof) would you choose to lose to improve the quality of your life and give you back your freedom?
P.S. The answer may be found in my book (below).
Five women’s bodies are discovered after the nights of thunderstorms. Their spouses are suspected of the crimes, but it becomes clear that someone else is responsible. There’s no blood and few clues. A storm photographer specialising in taking lightning pictures may be the only witness.
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