Work. Home. Family. Friends. Money. Church. Lovers. Life. At times, they’re challenging. Some can hurt us deeply. When combined, they’ll become overwhelming and consume us. The questions I often ask are: Are we holding onto too many things at once? Does pride keep us hanging on to them when it’s clear we should release some and just let go?
This week I met two very different women, each stuck in dead-end marriages. Both of them know the deal. One has little children and the other has adult offspring. While their ages and situations are different, their stories aren’t 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. Clearly, they’re unhappy ladies. 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 to me.
As I said, there’s nothing unique to be found here.
The two answers they gave with their no’s came with the words many of us use. One is children, the other is money. We are prepared to stay together for the kids or because we 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 money. 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, what people will think, losing order, routine, identity, property, family, friends, things — bolstering the fear of being alone. So we’d prefer to live in agony with someone we despise than be alone with nothing and no one at all. 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 that choice stops them. It’s a cold world out there. The routine of 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 sell their dignity too. Their minds and bodies are up for sale too.
Woman number one could leave her husband. She doesn’t know it yet, but she’s already raising her children by herself. The father figure she wants for her kids is only in her imagination. The one that comes home is totally unacceptable.
Woman number two is almost prepared to take a baseball bat to her husband’s head. A fresh start in a new environment is what she really 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.
And that’s fear’s accomplice. We need it to survive. It gives us the things we think make our life complete — but it also binds us. It traps us. In time, we’ll swap our mind, body and soul for more of it and what it promises to bring us. If we don’t watch out and learn to let go of some things, we will totally 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 — only to return to the darkness soon after. That’s a hard way to live. It’s actually quite sad.
Work. Home. Family. Church. Friends. Lovers. Life. At times, we need to let go of something to free ourselves from fear.
Which one (or part thereof) would you choose to lose to improve the quality of your life and give you back your freedom?
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 who specializes in taking pictures of lightning may be the only witness.